The last time the South Carolina Gamecocks failed to make the College World Series:
Mark Sanford was still governor ... Tim Scott was still a member of the S.C. House ... Democrats still controlled both chambers of Congress ... Clemson was still dominating its football rivalry against South Carolina, with six victories in the previous seven games.
But with Tuesday’s heartbreaking 5-4 loss at North Carolina, USC’s season, and its remarkable streak of three straight appearances in the CWS finals, came to an end.
The Gamecocks won’t be going back to Omaha for the eight-team CWS this week, despite outscoring the Tar Heels, 17-11, in a three-game NCAA Super Regional series.
But USC did finish with a strong 43-20 record in its first season under head coach Chad Holbrook, who replaced Ray Tanner when he accepted the promotion to athletic director.
After finishing in the top two for three consecutive seasons (national champs in 2010 and 2011 and runner-up to Arizona last year), not reaching the final eight is disappointing for the Gamecocks and their fans.
Yet Tuesday’s defeat can’t erase this extraordinary accomplishment: USC is the first school to reach three College World Series finals in a row since Texas did it from 1983-85 — and the Longhorns won only one national title in that stretch.
So congratulations to the Gamecocks on their sustained baseball success.
And in the immortal words of long-ago Brooklyn Dodger fans: Wait till next year.
Meanwhile, here’s a statistical reminder that should give dejected garnet-and-black loyalists a boost:
USC has won seven out of its last nine baseball games — and four straight football games — against lately hapless Clemson.