USC faces Kent State, possible rain in College World Series tonight
OMAHA, Neb. — South Carolina is in its 11th trip to the College World Series, and seeking its third consecutive national title. If the Gamecocks lose tonight at 8 to Kent State in an elimination game on ESPN, it certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen to the program, considering many observers didn’t think USC would even get back to Omaha this year.
But a 1-2 showing in Omaha would rate as one of USC’s least successful performances ever here, behind only 0-2 in 1982 and 1985, and tied with 1-2 in 2003.
USC went 4-2 in 1975 and finished second, 3-2 in 1977 and finished second, 2-2 in 1981, 4-2 in 2002 and finished second (after losing its opener), 3-2 in 2004, 6-1 in 2010 (after losing its opener) and 5-0 in 2011, when the Gamecocks became the first team since Miami in 2001 to go undefeated in the NCAA tournament.
The weather forecast for tonight is dicey. There is a 65 percent chance of rain at game time. The forecast improves later in the evening.
The Gamecocks won their first six games of this NCAA tournament, including their World Series opener Saturday against Florida. They were 27-1 in the tournament since the beginning of 2010, with a record 22-game winning streak, before they lost 2-1 on Monday to Arkansas, putting them on the brink of elimination tonight.
Still, USC coach Ray Tanner is 20-8 in the College World Series. This is his sixth trip to Omaha, and even if USC doesn’t make the best-of-three championship series, which starts Sunday, half of Tanner’s trips here will have ended with a first- or second-place finish.
The Gamecocks must win three games in three days to make the final. If they win tonight, they get a rematch with Arkansas at 9 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2. If USC wins that game, it will play Arkansas again at 9 p.m. Friday on ESPN.
Just one team has won three straight national titles, Southern California, which won five straight from 1970-74.
As the Gamecocks continue their push toward that milestone tonight against Kent State, they will start freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery (5-1, 4.05 earned-run average, 51 strikeouts, nine walks), while Kent State will counter with sophomore right-hander Tyler Skulina (11-2, 3.63 ERA, 97 strikeouts, 41 walks). Skulina originally attended Virginia, but never played a season there and sat out 2011 at Kent State because of NCAA transfer rules.
If the Gamecocks win tonight, they will start senior ace left-hander Michael Roth on Thursday.