Gamecocks sweep regional with win over rival Clemson

For the third straight year, South Carolina will play in the NCAA Super Regional. The Gamecocks jumped on rival Clemson early on Sunday en route to claiming the Columbia Regional title with a 4-3 victory at Carolina Stadium in front of a sellout crowd of 8,242.

South Carolina (43-17) will host the winner of the Charlottesville Regional next week in its 10th Super Regional appearance in the last 13 years. The victory is the Gamecocks’ NCAA-record 19th consecutive postseason win. Carolina has now won 22 straight postseason games at home, including an 11-0 mark all-time at Carolina Stadium.

With the loss, Clemson concludes its season with a 35-28 record.

One of the keys to Carolina’s win was the stellar regional debut of freshman starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery. The Sumter, S.C., native worked 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and five hits and fanning six batters to improve his record to 5-1. He kept Clemson’s bats under control for most of the day as he retired 12 straight batters at one point during the game. Junior Tyler Webb closed things out for the Gamecocks to pick up his third save of the season, allowing one run and two hits and striking out four in 2 1/3 innings on the mound.

Clemson starter David Haselden (4-2) was tagged with the loss after surrendering three runs and three hits in 2/3 of an inning.

Carolina tallied 10 hits on the afternoon, as LB Dantzler, Tanner English and Chase Vergason led the charge with two hits each. The multi-hit game is English’s team-leading 21st of the season. Freshman Joey Pankake added his third triple of the year, and freshman Connor Bright contributed a double, which is the first extra base hit of his career.

Seven Tigers recorded one hit apiece with Thomas Brittle and Spencer McGibbon each tallying a double to lead the way.

The Gamecocks came out swinging early and put together a three-run outburst in the top of the first inning. Pankake ignited the offense as he narrowly missed hitting a leadoff home run off the center-field wall and turned it into a triple. Evan Marzilli followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, and Pankake slid under the tag at home to score Carolina’s first run. Marzilli’s sac fly was his eighth of the season, which moves him into a tie with Jim Curl (1981) and Jim Pankovits (1974) for first all-time in a single season at Carolina. Christian Walker then drew a walk and later scored on a single to left by regional MVP Adam Matthews, and Bright made it a 3-0 game with a run-scoring double off the wall in left.

Carolina pushed its lead to 4-0 in the sixth. English doubled, advanced to third on a Clemson throwing error by the left fielder and then scored on a single by Vergason to give the Gamecocks a four-run cushion.

Clemson cut Carolina’s lead in half in the bottom of the sixth, as Brittle delivered a RBI double and scored two batters later on a groundout by Phil Pohl.

The Tigers made things interesting in the ninth by pulling to within 4-3 on a two-out RBI single by Spencer Kieboom, but Webb was able to get Brad Felder to fly out to right to end the game and send the Gamecocks to the Super Regional.

The Gamecocks will take on either Appalachian State, Oklahoma or Virginia in the Super Regional. Virginia and Oklahoma are playing in an elimination game tonight. The winner will face Appalachian State on Monday in the final at 4 p.m. with the if necessary game to follow at 8 p.m. The NCAA will announce dates, times, sites and television coverage for the Super Regionals late Monday night. Check back with GamecocksOnline.com for latest updates with information on next week’s Super Regional.

Super Regional books remain on sale online for $45 each at GamecocksOnline.com/tickets. Single game standing room only tickets will go on sale online at 10 a.m. Monday at ticketmaster.com for $18 each.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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