South Carolina can put itself in the cat-bird seat to win their third straight College World Series title with a win today, and much of the Gamecocks’ fate is riding on the right arm of starting pitcher Colby Holmes.
The Conway High product takes the mound for South Carolina (46-17) on Monday night at the College World Series against Arkansas (45-20). First pitch is set for 9 p.m. with the game televised live on ESPN2.
After missing about a month late in the regular season, Holmes has been on fire in the NCAA Tournament. In his last outing in the Super-Regional, Holmes limited Oklahoma to one hit in five innings of work in the 5-1 win over the Sooners.
In his start before that, Holmes (7-1, 2.80 ERA) carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of the 7-0 win over Manhattan. He struck out a career-high nine batters and yielded just one hit in the outing to earn the victory.
Holmes, who was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team, is 7-1 on the year with a 2.80 ERA in 74.0 innings pitched with 61 strikeouts to just 15 walks. He will face off with fellow righty Ryne Stanek (7-4, 2.91 ERA).
Holmes was out with a shoulder injury when the Gamecocks and Razorbacks met earlier this season for a three-game weekend series so he may benefit from having the element of surprise. He will also have some recent history on his side too.
South Carolina has defeated Arkansas in seven of the last nine games played between the two schools over the last three years, including a two-of-three series victory this past season in Fayetteville.
The Gamecocks rallied from six runs down for an 8-6 win in 10 innings in the opener, fell 7-6 in game two and came away with the rubber game with a 10-7 victory in the series finale.
South Carolina hit .302 (32-for-106) vs. the Razorbacks with six doubles and three homers as well. It was the third best hitting performance by Carolina in a SEC series this year.
South Carolina currently owns a 22-game winning streak in the NCAA Tournament dating back to the 2010 season as well as 12 straight wins at the College World Series. Both streaks are NCAA records.
South Carolina’s 27-1 record over the last three years in the NCAA Tournament is the best three-year tournament winning percentage in NCAA history (must appear in tournament in at least two of the three years to qualify).
Junior first baseman Christian Walker tallied two hits in the victory over Florida on Saturday. He is now at 242 career hits, just three shy of Hank Small (1972-75), who is 10th on the All-Time list at South Carolina with 245.
Walker has put together 22 career hits at the College World Series and is six short of the record of 28 set by Dustin Ackley of North Carolina. He leads the Gamecocks in hitting for the season with a .318 average (71-for-223), 11 homers and 54 RBI. He has a .442 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging percentage as well.
Another Grand Strand product is playing well for the Gamecocks. Freshman outfielder Tanner English leads the Gamecocks with 23 multi-hit games. He was 2-for-3 in the 7-3 win over Florida. For the season, English is hitting .311 (70-for-225), second highest batting average on the year with 41 runs scored and 22 RBI. He also has stolen 10 bases.