USC Gamecocks Baseball

NCAA Columbia regional: Team-by-team preview

The four teams are playing for the opportunity to advance to a Super Regional against the winner of the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional:

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

Coach: Chad Holbrook, 1st season

Record: 39-18

Conference finish: Second in SEC East

Ranking: No. 18 in Baseball America

NCAA tournament appearances: 29

Top position players: 1B LB Dantzler, Sr. (.332 BA, 15 HR, 48 RBIs), SS Joey Pankake, Soph. (.315 BA, 10 HR, 38 RBIs), C Grayson Greiner, Soph. (.291 BA, 4 HR, 35 RBIs)

Top pitchers: LHP Nolan Belcher, Sr. (7-5, 2.30 ERA), LHP Tyler Webb, Sr. (2-2, 16 saves, 1.24 ERA), LHP Adam Westmoreland, Sr. (7-3, 3 saves, 2.05 ERA)

Fast fact: USC is 28-6 at Carolina Stadium this season, which upped its home record to 152-32 (.826) in the five-year history of the ballpark.

Tourney tidbit: The Gamecocks have 11 trips to the College World Series, where they have reached the final six times, winning in 2010 and 2011.

CLEMSON TIGERS

Coach: Jack Leggett, 20th season

Record: 39-20

Conference finish: Third in ACC Atlantic

Ranking: No. 22 in Baseball America

NCAA tournament appearances: 38

Top position players: 3B Shane Kennedy, Jr. (.317 BA, 4 HR, 32 RBIs, 27 SB), C Garrett Boulware, Soph. (.310 BA, 8 HR, 44 RBIs, 2B Steve Wilkerson, Jr. (.294 BA, 2 HR, 32 RBIs)

Top pitchers: RHP Daniel Gossett, Soph. (9-4, 2.53 ERA), LHP Matthew Crownover, Fr. (7-2, 2.05 ERA), RHP Scott Firth, Sr. (6-5, 4 saves, 3.23 ERA)

Fast fact: Clemson has posted a 12-8 record on opponents’ home fields this season, with one of those losses coming in Columbia. The Tigers’ only neutral-field win came against USC at Greenville’s Fluor Field.

Tourney tidbit: The Tigers’ 38 NCAA tournament trips are the fifth-most in college baseball history behind Texas, Florida State, Miami and Oklahoma State. They’ve been invited all but one season since 1987.

LIBERTY FLAMES

Coach: Jim Toman, 6th season

Record: 34-27

Conference finish: Fourth in Big South North; tournament champions

Ranking: Not ranked

NCAA tournament appearances: 3

Top position players: C Trey Wimmer, Sr. (.303 BA, 4 HR, 36 RBIs), 2B Bryan Aanderud, Sr. (.321 BA, 1 HR, 37 RBIs), OF Ryan Cordell, Jr. (.262 BA, 6 HR, 39 RBIs, 26 SB)

Top pitchers: RHP Brooks Roy, Sr. (7-5, 3.39 ERA), RHP Trey Lambert, Jr. (7-3, 3.76 ERA), RHP Ashton Perritt, Soph. (3-1, 9 saves, 1.35 ERA)

Fast fact: Liberty coach Jim Toman, who played at N.C. State, coached for seven seasons as an assistant under Ray Tanner in Raleigh and 11 more with the Gamecocks.

Tourney tidbit: The Flames, who haven’t played in the NCAA tournament since 2000, made it in after losing the first game of the Big South tournament before winning five straight, four by one run.

SAINT LOUIS BILLIKENS

Coach: Darin Hendrickson, 6th season

Record: 41-19

Conference finish: Tied for first in Atlantic 10; tournament champions

Ranking: Not ranked

NCAA tournament appearances: 3

Top position players: OF Alex Kelly, Sr. (.340 BA, 11 HR, 60 RBIs), 1B Mike Vigliarolo, Soph. (.347 BA, 8 HR, 40 RBIs), C Grant Nelson, Sr. (.336 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBIs)

Top pitchers: RHP Alex Alemann, Sr. (6-6, 3.36 ERA), RHP Clay Smith, Jr. (8-2, 3.76 ERA), RHP Marco Mejia, Sr. (3-2, 6 saves, 2.81 ERA)

Fast fact: The only SEC team Saint Louis played this season was Ole Miss, which won 8-7 in 11 innings on May 1 in Oxford.

Tourney tidbit: The Billikens, who last made the tournament in 2010, won five straight games, four in a 27-hour span, in a title run through the A-10 tournament after falling to the losers’ bracket.

Compiled by Neil White

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