Maryland not intimidated by potential regional matchup against Gamecocks at Carolina Stadium
COLUMBIA - Maryland baseball coach John Szefc has seen long home winning streaks before.
He became the associate head coach at Kansas in 2011. When Szefc arrived, the men's basketball program was celebrating the longest home winning streak in its history. The Jayhawks seemed unbeatable inside Phog Allen Fieldhouse, winning 69 straight in their home arena.
In Game 70, they lost by 11 points to Texas.
So Szefc knows streaks were meant to be broken. It gives him comfort as Maryland prepares for a potential matchup with No. 1 seed South Carolina in the NCAA Columbia Regional.
The Gamecocks have won 27 straight postseason home games, dating back to 2002. They've never lost in Carolina Stadium. Szefc said that level of success reminds him of Kansas basketball.
The pressure if on South Carolina, he said, not his team.
"Every time they go out there with that home streak at Allen Fieldhouse, the pressure gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger," Szefc said. "Sooner or later, they're going to lose a game at Allen Fieldhouse, and they do - even with all the greatness they have. I know that this isn't Allen Fieldhouse, but I don't see what the difference is.
"As that streak keeps building, they go out there probably with more pressure to protect it."
Top-seed South Carolina will host No. 4 Campbell at 7 p.m. with a chance to play Maryland in the winner's bracket Saturday. Szefc said he wouldn't mention the similarity with his players if they have to face the Gamecocks in Columbia. He doesn't have to.
After beating Old Dominion 4-3 in a wild regional game Friday afternoon, Maryland has plenty of confidence.
"I feel like we're ready," third baseman Jose Cuas said. "We just came off the ACC tournament, which was the same hostile crowd. We just have to keep playing the way that we play, slowing the game down, not letting the crowd get into us, and just keep playing baseball. It's a regular team, just like any team we played throughout the year. Nothing that's going to scare us or back us down."
Szefc means no disrespect.
He knows South Carolina's recent history, the postseason pedigree his program lacks. On Friday, Maryland played its first regional game since 1961. South Carolina has been to six College World Series in the past 12 years.
But Maryland isn't backing down.
"We go out there with those guys, we're playing with house money, really," Szefc said. "I mean, everybody in the ballpark expects us to lose, right? Pretty much. So the pressure, the streak, our guys don't even know how many games they've won here. Our guys could care less. I could care less.
"But I can tell you, sooner or later, streaks end. I've seen it happen at Lawrence, Kansas. I've got a lot of respect for these guys here, the coaching staff, they've got a great team here, but I've yet to see a baseball team go completely unbeaten in their home park. Sooner or later, it's gonna end."