A strong showing in Hoover got South Carolina into the conversation to make the NCAA tournament, but the previous eight weeks ultimately kept USC out.
The Gamecocks will not be a part of the postseason for the second time in three years after making it 15 consecutive years before that.
USC was a bubble team entering Monday due to a 13-17 SEC record, a No. 32 RPI and a No. 10 strength of schedule.
The Gamecocks’ RPI and strength of schedule were strong enough to be included in the discussion, but losing eight consecutive series to end the season and not having a signature series win ultimately cost USC.
“One of the things that stood out to us for South Carolina was they went 2-8 in their conference series,” NCAA Baseball Committee chairman Scott Sidwell. “Their overall body of work, we just didn’t feel like they were a team that was worthy of at-large.”
With an RPI of 32, South Carolina is the highest RPI team to not make the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks, Miami, UConn and Old Dominion were the first four teams left out of the field, according to ESPN and the NCAA.
The fact that there were so many upsets during conference championship week hurt USC and other bubble teams as at-large bids were instead taken by teams that won their conference tournament.
“There were a number of teams that wouldn’t have gotten in for at-large consideration. Certainly the field narrowed and with that made this a very, very difficult process,” Sidwell said.
The final four teams to be included in the field were Auburn, Michigan, Texas A&M and UCLA.
South Carolina proved throughout the season that it was good enough to beat anyone, but the Gamecocks were also not good enough to finish off series against top competition.
The Gamecocks played series against national seeds Florida and LSU, as well as regional hosts Kentucky and Clemson. South Carolina was tied or in the lead in the eighth inning of the rubber match game against all four of those teams before losing.
USC led Florida 5-3 in the eighth, LSU 6-5 in the ninth, Clemson 3-2 in the ninth and was tied with Kentucky at 4 in the eighth.
Had one of those games gone Carolina’s way the Gamecocks would likely be continuing their season.
“I can go back to six or seven pitches, not six or seven games, six or seven pitches when we were in position to win a series on the road,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said last week.
Instead, the Gamecocks were unable to finish off games and came well short of living up to preseason expectations for the second time in three years.