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May 26, 2014

Columbia Regional Breakdown

No. 18 South Carolina (42-16) begins Regional play this Friday at 7 p.m. against Campbell. Here's a breakdown of all four teams in the Columbia Regional.

1. South Carolina

Record: 42-16.
Last 10 games: 7-3.
RPI: 13.
Conference: Southeastern.
Key players: Junior first baseman Kyle Martin (.329 BA, five HR, 33 RBI); junior catcher Grayson Greiner (.328 BA, eight HR, 50 RBI); junior third baseman Joey Pankake (.307 BA, five HR, 29 RBI).
Pitching staff: Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.52 ERA), Jack Wynkoop (7-5, 2.71 ERA), Wil Crowe (7-3, 3.05 ERA).
Top reliever: Joel Seddon (3-1, 0.85 ERA).

Facts worth mentioning. South Carolina has won 27 straight postseason games at home, and is a perfect 16-0 in NCAA Tournament games in Carolina Stadium. USC's last postseason loss came in 2002 in game two of a Super Regional against Miami.

The Gamecocks have made 15 straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the longest active streak in the SEC and the fifth-longest in the nation.

USC head coach Chad Holbrook expects starters Max Schrock (.270 BA, five HRs, 18 RBI) and Connor Bright (.331, 23 RBI) to return to the lineup this weekend. He isn't yet sure where how he'll fit them back into the lineup.

Down the stretch: The Gamecocks ended the regular season on a high note, entering the SEC Tournament in position to earn a national seed after taking two of three games on the road at Vanderbilt.

But South Carolina fell flat on its face in Hoover, losing 12-0 in a run-rule shortened game to Mississippi State before being eliminated after a 7-2 loss the next day to Florida. Losers of three of their last four games, the Gamecocks hope an extra few days of rest will help them heal and prepare for the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Chad Holbrook quote: "Our players are excited to be playing at home, and I hope that the atmosphere that our great fans create will hopefully be the difference in helping us advance. We're certainly going to need our fans, and we'll need the atmosphere because the teams that we're playing are awfully good and awfully talented."

First game: The Gamecocks will play Campbell Friday night at 7. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

2. Maryland

Record: 36-21
Last 10 games: 8-2.
RPI: 25
Conference: Atlantic Coast.
Key players: Redshirt freshman infielder Brandon Lowe (.348 BA, 1 HR, 37 RBI); senior infielder Blake Schmit (.306 BA, 25 RBI); junior outfielder Charlie White (.272 BA, 2 HR, 27 RBI).
Pitching staff: Jake Stinnett (7-6, 2.60 ERA); Mike Shawaryn (10-3, 2.70 ERA); Jake Drossner (4-1, 2.18 ERA).
Top reliever: Kevin Mooney (1-1, 3.52 ERA, 11 saves in 22 appearances).
Facts worth mentioning: South Carolina junior center fielder Tanner English played summer baseball with Maryland pitcher Jake Drossner. English said Drossner texted him shortly after the Regional matchups were announced to say he was excited about coming to play in Columbia.

Maryland is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 43 years. The Terrapins are making their fourth all-time tournament appearance and their first since 1971.

Maryland reached the ACC Tournament Final, which it lost 9-4 to Georgia Tech, for the first time since 1976.

Down the stretch: Maryland enters the Regional as losers of two straight games, but the Terrapins put together an impressive run down the stretch. The Terps won their final nine regular season games, then tacked on two more victories in the ACC Tournament before losing to North Carolina 13-7 and then Georgia Tech 9-4 in the championship game.

Holbrook quote: "I talked to several coaches in the ACC, and to a man, they all said you don't want to play Maryland."

First game: Maryland will play Old Dominion Friday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

3. Old Dominion

Record: 36-24.
Last 10 games: 6-4.
Conference: Conference USA.
RPI: 36.
Key players: Freshman shortstop Nick Walker (.319 BA, four HR, 26 RBI); junior first baseman Taylor Ostrich (.317 BA, 1 HR, 22 RBI); sophomore infielder P.J. Higgins (.310 BA, 36 RBI).
Pitching staff: Andy Roberts (6-3, 3.01 ERA); Victor Diaz (5-2, 3.04 ERA); Ryan Yarbrough (6-7, 4.52 ERA).
Top reliever: Brad Gero (3-3, 2.77 ERA, 12 saves).
Facts worth mentioning: The Monarchs are making their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2000, when they were the No. 2 seed in the Clemson Regional.

Old Dominion is one of two Conference USA teams to make the NCAA Tournament. The other, Conference USA champion Rice, is hosting a Regional.

Old Dominion is tied 9-9 in its all-time series against Maryland.

Down the stretch: Old Dominion turned in a solid performance in the Conference USA Tournament, climbing out of the losers bracket with three consecutive one-run victories. The Monarchs beat Rice, a Regional host, 3-2 in the tournament semifinal game to force a rematch with the Owls in a win-or-go-home spot. But the Owls downed the Monarchs 7-5 to advance to the tournament championship game, which they would win 11-5 over UTSA.

Holbrook quote: "Maryland and Old Dominion are awfully very strong as well, with great players."

First game: The Monarchs square off against Maryland Friday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

4. Campbell

Record: 40-19.
Last 10 games: 7-3.
Conference Big South.
RPI: 67.
Key players: Sophomore catcher Matt Parrish (.328 BA, 22 RBI); senior infielder John Reilly (.320 BA, 10 RBI); redshirt sophomore catcher/outfielder Steven Leonard (.303 BA, 29 RBI).
Pitching staff: Hector Sedano (7-0, 2.41 ERA); Ryan Koopman (8-1, 2.79 ERA); Heath Bowers (10-3, 2.95 ERA).
Top reliever: Ryan Thompson (6-2, 1.23 ERA, 17 saves in 36 appearances).
Facts worth mentioning. Campbell is just one of two Regional four seeds in the tournament that won 40 games this season. The other was College of Charleston, which went 41-17 and will play Florida at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Fighting Camels have reached the 40-win mark for the third straight season.

Campbell is making its second overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Fighting Camels last made the tournament in 1990, when they traveled to Palo Alto, Ca.

Down the stretch: Campbell is hitting its stride at the right time. The Fighting Camels dropped their Big South Tournament opener last Tuesday, the battled back out of the losers bracket, winning their next five games to claim the tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Campbell has allowed just one run in each of its last three games, including a 9-1 pummeling of Winthrop on the Eagles' home field in the Big South Tournament Championship.

Holbrook quote: "We're very aware of the program they have at Campbell. I spoke to their coaching staff a couple times last year because we had a makeup game, and we about played them. I chose not to play them because I thought they might beat our tail and that it might do more harm than good. They won an awful lot of games. They're used to winning. What they've done over the last couple years there has been extremely impressive. They're going to bring some players down here that expect to win, and that's not always the case in the NCAA Tournament with a four seed."

First game: Campbell will play South Carolina at 7 p.m. Friday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Columbia Regional information, per USC.

Friday, May 30
Game 1 - No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 3 Old Dominion - 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 2 - No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Campbell - 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Saturday, May 31
Game 3 - Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 - 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 4 - Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 - 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Sunday, June 1
Game 5 - Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4 - 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 6 - Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 4 - 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Monday, June 2
Game 7 - If necessary - 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

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