The road to Omaha begins at home for three area college baseball teams.
For South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Clemson, the game plan for getting to the College World Series is simple -- win at home and pack your bags. All three programs will play host to regionals this weekend and were awarded top national seeds when the pairings for the NCAA Tournament were announced Monday.
The top eight seeds will play host to Super Regionals if they advance out of their regionals, which bodes well for the local entrants.
South Carolina (52-8) will meet Liberty (35-21) on Friday in a 7 p.m. contest. A subpar performance at the SEC Tournament was not detrimental to the Gamecocks, whose path should be the easiest, statistically speaking, after receiving the top national seed.
It has been 15 years since USC was a regional site and the last time the Gamecocks advanced to the College World Series. Shortstop Drew Meyer said South Carolina won't be affected by its recent slump (6-4 in past 10 games).
"Our goal wasn't to win the SEC Tournament," Meyer said. "It was to go to Omaha."
By dominating the ACC, the Yellow Jackets (47-14) earned a No. 1 seed in their regional and were the nation's No. 3 seed. They also supplanted South Carolina as the number-one ranked team in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls.
The Gamecocks slipped to No. 2 (Baseball America) and No. 3 (Collegiate Baseball). Georgia Tech will meet Southern Conference champion Georgia Southern (38-21) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Clemson (45-16) finished second to Tech in the regular season and ACC Tournament but received a No. 4 national seed. The Tigers, who play host to their fifth regional in the past seven years, will meet Middle Tennessee State (37-21) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Seventh-year Clemson coach Jack Leggett was nervous awaiting the announcement. He hoped the Tigers' record would ensure a top seed.
"I was a little worried," Leggett said. "I thought we played well down the stretch and against strong non-conference competition."
The three area colleges never have advanced to the College World Series in the same year. Tech has made only one trip to Omaha (1994). South Carolina has five CWS appearances, while the Tigers have participated eight times.
Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221.
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