Matt Connolly

USC had something to smile about Saturday, but not what it expected

When South Carolina’s baseball schedule came out, it appeared this weekend would be a celebration at Founders Park.

The Gamecocks, one of the favorites in the SEC in the preseason, would be playing a team picked to finish near the bottom of the league in the final series of the regular season.

USC would have a postseason spot locked up and would be playing for an SEC title, and this would be a final farewell for the juniors and seniors in front of a packed house before beginning the NCAA Tournament.

Instead, a couple of thousand fans were on hand for each game to watch South Carolina’s year continue to spiral downward.

Needing a series win in a desperate way, the Gamecocks lost two of three to a Georgia team that entered the weekend 9-18 in the league.

It marked the eighth consecutive series loss for South Carolina and all but ends USC’s chance for an at-large bid.

Even with a 10-0 win in the series finale over the Bulldogs, there is no doubt the regular season ends as a disappointment.

“We don’t deserve a pat on the back or we don’t deserve to be congratulated just because we played one game,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “We’re at South Carolina, and we need to win more than we’ve won.”

Saturday at least offered USC players and coaches an opportunity to smile.

The Gamecocks were in control from start to finish and outhit UGA 12-3 in the blowout victory.

But what does it mean as far as the overall season? Not much. South Carolina’s only chance for a successful year depends on a run in Hoover, a place the Gamecocks haven’t won since 2012.

Still, USC believes a run is possible.

“I don’t think this is the time to be relieved about anything. Now is when you’ve gotta start hitting back. I’m not relieved,” catcher John Jones said. “I told the guys before the game I think we can win out and keep winning. If we take our mindset of one inning we can keep winning innings, keep winning games and hopefully play for a while.”

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