South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook wants his team to play with nothing to lose Thursday morning against Texas A&M, but there’ll be plenty at stake in the SEC Tournament elimination game.
USC entered the week clinging to a national seed according to most college baseball experts, but going 0-2 in Hoover could hurt the Gamecocks’ chances of securing home-field advantage until potentially the College World Series.
South Carolina has proven before that it can have success in the NCAA Tournament without playing well in Hoover, but the Gamecocks are also historically much better at home in postseason play.
Since 2002, USC’s first trip to Omaha under Ray Tanner, the Gamecocks have advanced to the College World Series all five times they have hosted a Super Regional.
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When playing a Super Regional on the road during that time, USC advanced to the College World Series once in four tries.
Holbrook said he believes his team has done enough to be considered for a national seed, regardless of what happens Thursday. But a win over the No. 4 RPI team in the country would help the Gamecocks.
“We’ve got a great opportunity tomorrow to play Texas A&M. It might take our best game, but we’ll see if we can play our best game,” Holbrook said. “If we lose tomorrow our season’s not over, so I’m not going to put all the pressure in the world on our players.”
Even if South Carolina falls short, it needs to avoid another blowout loss. The Gamecocks looked lost at times defensively in a 10-4 loss to Ole Miss Wednesday, committing a season-high five errors.
Another lackluster performance would give the committee an excuse to remove USC from national seed contention, and Holbrook’s aware there are plenty of teams ready to take the Gamecocks’ place.
“I think regardless of what happens tomorrow we’re in that conversation, but some of that’s going to be dependent on what some other teams do,” he said. “There might be 10 or 11 teams worthy of being in that conversation. I’m glad that my team is one of those 10 or 11.”