Adam Matthews and Tanner English broke open a scoreless game in the sixth inning with a pair of two-RBI hits to lead South Carolina to a 7-0 victory over Manhattan in the second game of the Columbia Regional.
Junior Colby Holmes
Next up, Clemson.
Both the Gamecocks (41-17) and Tigers (34-26) were able to outlast their mid-major competition on Day 1 of the Columbia Regional to set up the highly-anticipated showdown between the instate rivals. South Carolina won the season series 2-1 but Clemson would gladly accept that for postseason glory.
Senior Michael Roth, who has allowed three earned runs in 28.1 innings in his career against Clemson, will get the ball against the Tigers looking for control of the Regional.
“Every baseball fan in the state of South Carolina is going to get what they wanted,” junior Christian Walker said. “They’re a god team, they want to win, and they want to take us down.”
While the Tigers were able to cruise to an 11-3 victory over Coastal Carolina, the game wasn’t so easy for the Gamecocks. Senior Taylor Sewitt flummoxed the South Carolina bats for five innings but the sixth changed the game.
Junior Colby Holmes, who brought a no-hitter into the eighth inning, was masterful for the Gamecocks. After missing three starts toward the end of the season with a shoulder injury, Holmes has had one good outing and one bad one entering his Regional-opening start against the Jaspers (33-25). Now he has two quality starts.
“He was painting the corners,” Nick Camastro said. “All we try to do is have quality at-bats against him. He was lights out and sometimes you just have to tip your cap.”
Both Holmes and Sewitt had no-hit bids going through the fifth inning. Both teams were able to put runners on base by hit batsmen or walks, but neither team could find that elusive hit. Neither team could figure out a way to even hit the ball hard off of the opposing starter early in the game.
Junior Evan Marzilli
“We needed for (Holmes) to be that good because Sewitt was doing a great job for Manhattan,” Tanner said. “We were very fortunate to be able to win and we get to play again tomorrow.”
South Carolina was finally able to break through against Sewitt in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Gamecocks loaded the bases with no one out but the side-winder came close to getting out of the jam. He was able to pop LB Dantzler up in foul territory behind the plate for the first out and freeze pinch hitter Michael Roth on a called third strike.
Sewitt fell behind in the count 3-1 to Matthews, who then turned on a fastball and roped a single to left field. That hit scored two runs giving Matthews 21 RBIs on the season. It also ended a streak of 39.1 consecutive scoreless innings thrown by Sewitt, a senior making his fourth appearance in four games.
“He was as good as advertised,” Tanner said of Sewitt. “He was very, very special. We finally got some runners on, he got two outs, it didn’t look good, then Adam came through with a big hit for us.”
English’s line drive to right field turned around Joe Rock, hit off his glove and fell on the warning track. The freshman coasted into third for a triple, his fourth of the season, as the Gamecocks doubled their lead.
Sewitt was able to get out of the inning, but was lifted to start the seventh. He gave up four runs on four hits and five walks. The senior struck out three in his 119-pitch outing.
The Gamecocks added another trio of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning off of reliever Nick Girardi. Walker roped a first pitch home run just inside the left field foul pole for his 11th blast of the season. Matthews then delivered an RBI single to score Dantzler, who walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Junior Chase Vergason, who had reached base twice in the game by walk, dropped an RBI double to left center to drive in his sixth run of the season.
The rains came with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, which effectively ended the day for Holmes. With the lengthy delay, which caused Holmes’ arm to cool, Tanner had to go to the bullpen.
Holmes finished the day throwing eight innings and allowed one hit, no walks, and hit one batter. He struck out a career high nine Jaspers on 90 pitches to move to 7-1 on the season.
“He didn’t miss up,” Duffy said. “He never missed up. He threw two different fastballs. He was throwing 84-85 to get ahead and then finishing guys at 89-90. When he spun the ball, he spun it down where he couldn’t get hurt and our guys couldn’t lay off of it.”
Over South Carolina’s final three innings, the team registered seven runs on seven hits and three walks.
Saturday's game will be the first time that South Carolina and Clemson have met in a Regional since 1980.
South Carolina will take on Clemson on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU. The first game of the day will be between Manhattan and Coastal Carolina at Noon on ESPNU. The Gamecocks and Chanticleers will be the home teams as determined by a coin toss.