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Havens provides a hard-to-top final act

RALEIGH — Reese Havens’ days as a member of the South Carolina baseball team are more than likely over.

His last day wasn’t too shabby.

The junior shortstop, who is expected to be drafted in the first two rounds on June 5, won the Gamecocks’ first game Sunday with one swing of his bat. He tried to do the same thing in USC’s second game.

In the bottom of the ninth inning of an elimination game with James Madison — Havens sent a full-count offering from Kyle Hoffman over the fence in right field, breaking the 5-5 tie and advancing USC to the championship round of the Raleigh Regional.

“I got a breaking ball up (in the zone),” Havens said. “I got a good swing on it, and it worked out for us.”

Havens put another good swing on the ball hours later. After stepping in as the first batter against N.C. State, Havens launched an 0-1 pitch from Wolfpack starter Eric Surkamp over the fence in right, giving USC a 1-0 lead.

That was the only run USC scored in a 2-1 loss, which ended its season. The Gamecocks’ other two hits were singles by Kyle Enders.

On the day, Havens had 3 RBIs, two home runs, two runs scored and reached based on four of his nine at-bats.

“We fought hard in that first game and Reese capped it with that walk-off home run,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “Then he hit another one to start the next game, which started things off pretty good for us.”

Havens’ day was a fitting end to his season.

After hitting .259 his freshman season and .274 last season, Havens finished second on the team this year with a .357 batting average. His 17 home runs were one shy of doubling the total from his freshman and sophomore seasons combined.

But even with his statistics and his rising draft stock this season, the former player of the year in Class 2A will remember the times he had with his teammates just as much.

“It’s tough because we are basically family with these guys,” Havens said. “We’re with each other more than our own families. We’ve made lasting relationships, great friends, and it’s tough to see guys go.”

Havens said that he has not thought about the draft yet because he has been focusing on the team and its goals.

Even though he has not made an official decision about his baseball future, Havens’ name will be called Thursday. And if Saturday was his last day as a USC baseball player, he did not disappoint.