COLUMBIA - Maryland vowed it would not succumb to the pressure of playing South Carolina inside its home stadium. The noise, the atmosphere, the Gamecocks chants and Sandstorm music - nothing would shake these Terrapins.
Their bold claims angered fans, who grumbled about the perceived disrespect on social media. Yet there the Terrapins were, refusing to wilt under the pressure, despite being held scoreless after the second inning.
No. 1 South Carolina lost to No. 2 Maryland 4-3 on Saturday before a crowd of 6,813 at Carolina Stadium. The Terrapins advance to the championship round of NCAA Columbia Regional. The Gamecocks will play No. 4 Campbell for a 1 p.m. Sunday elimination game at Carolina Stadium.
The winner between South Carolina and Campbell will advance to play Maryland at 7 p.m. Sunday night.
South Carolina junior third baseman Joey Pankake hit into a game-ending double play with the tying run on third. The loss snapped a 28-game home postseason winning streak that dated back to 2002, and was USC's first ostseason loss at Carolina Stadium.
"You've got to give Maryland credit, our crowd was terrific," South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. "They did everything they could. It was really, really neat. They were trying awfully hard, and they made it very difficult on our opponent, but we couldn't get that big one.
"I thought if we could tie it up, maybe get a little bit of momentum it would be a different story. But we couldn't."
The Terrapins took control early Saturday, scoring three runs with two outs in the second inning and jumping out to a 4-0 lead. It was South Carolina that looked rattled and shaken, with sophomore starter Jake Wynkoop knocked from the game after allowing six hits in 1 2/3 innings. USC also had two errors in the second inning, which left Holbrook in disgust.
South Carolina freshman Taylor Widener relieved Wynkoop in the second inning, and momentum began to change. Widener controlled Maryland's lineup, holding the Terrapins scoreless through a career-long 6 1/3 innings. He allowed two hits, struck out six and walked four.
"I wasn't expecting to go that long, but I just went in and did what I had to do," Widener said.
Eventually, South Carolina's lineup began to wear on Maryland freshman pitcher Mike Shawaryn, who was terrific for most of the night.
In the sixth inning, junior first baseman Kyle Martin smashed a double off the top of the right-field wall, high enough it was close to being a home run. Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook challenged the umpire over the ruling, but the call stood. Martin drove in one run, and second baseman DC Arendas' RBI sac fly pulled USC within 4-3.
But Martin never made it to home plate.
"I got ahold of it pretty well, but I thought it was a little low," Martin said. "It ended up hitting the top of the wall. Not much you can do about that."
Shawaryn pitched into the seventh, allowing three runs on five hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Maryland center fielder Charlie White was 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored.
Second baseman DC Arendas led the Gamecocks at the plate, finishing 2-for-2 with two RBIs. Martin was 3-for-4 at the plate.
Though thrilled, Maryland players and coaches walked away impressed with the Carolina Stadium atmosphere. Shawaryn said it was the type of environment he'd always dreamt of pitching in, adding the fans were great. Maryland coach John Szefc said the win showed a lot about the character of his team.
"The atmosphere here is a really strong atmosphere," Szefc said. "I was really happy with the way our guys responded in that atmosphere, under some pretty duress situations."