OMAHA, Neb. -- If South Carolina wants to prolong its stay here -- and its season -- it will have to do so against the presumed most talented team in the College World Series.
Clemson's upset Monday of No. 1 overall seed Arizona State means the Gamecocks will face the Sun Devils at 4:30 p.m. today in an elimination game.
"They're the No. 1 national seed for a reason," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "They've got all the weapons to be successful."
Arizona State lost just its ninth game of the season Monday. Now 52-9, it hasn't lost consecutive games all season.
"There's a reason why we haven't lost consecutive games, and there's also a reason why we have the record that we do," said Sun Devils captain and third baseman Raoul Torrez.
"Because we're able to bounce back, and we're going to make sure that we're going to be ready to go and we're going to play for (today) and that's it."
Tanner surmised that losing might have stirred the Sun Devils' spirits. It sure sounded that way, too, after their game Monday. Coach Tim Esmay delivered some sort of speech in the outfield after the loss that sparked the team, which emerged from the huddle somehow energized.
The players essentially said it was their worst game of the season -- and it was a 6-3 loss.
"We're a good team, and we just played poorly," Torrez said. "There's not a way around it. ... For as poorly as we played, we were still in the game."
Tanner repeated several times Monday that a quality start will be required to beat the Devils. That falls on junior Sam Dyson's right arm, which wasn't very good his last time out.
Dyson lasted just 1 1/3 innings in the team's second super regional game against Coastal Carolina. Tanner and Dyson said his back was a bit creaky prior to that start.
In any case, more will be necessary today.
"He's got to have a good game," Tanner said, "no doubt about it."
Dyson needs to be in the mid-90s today to be effective, Tanner said. His fastball needs life, which then accentuates his off-speed pitches.
Dyson had a good bullpen upon arrival in Omaha, Tanner said. Time will tell if that translates to a start like the one in Myrtle Beach, the shutouts he had at Arkansas and Georgia or something in between.
Tanner continued Monday to play it cool when it came to his team's lack of success in late-inning at-bats Sunday.
The Gamecocks (48-16) had chance after chance late against Oklahoma in their CWS opener, but they couldn't come through with the necessary hits. They were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the game -- and 0 for 6 with three strikeouts in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
They left five runners in scoring position in those final three innings.
USC had the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings, but pushed across just one run -- and that was a semi-intentional walk of Jackie Bradley Jr. with two outs in the ninth.
Adrian Morales, with the tying run on third and winning run on second, swung at the first pitch, lifting it harmlessly into center field for the final out.
Tanner wasn't upset with Morales, or Brady Thomas in the eighth, for swinging at the first pitch of an at-bat. Even though the previous batter walked both times -- Bradley Jr. on four pitches -- he reasoned that often the first pitch you see is the best one.
Tanner wasn't pleased, though, with Adam Matthews' failure to get down a bunt (and strikeout) in the ninth. He also didn't like Whit Merrifield's pop foul in the ninth with the bases loaded. Merrifield has not delivered in the clutch since the end of the regular season.
Thomas lined out to right field in the eighth. Tanner spent Monday afternoon lamenting that the ball didn't go in a different arc. He said a foot in either direction, and it would've cleared the bases.
"We just never came up with that ball that got in the alley or down the line," Tanner said. "We wanted to get in a position to win that game. We did. We just didn't win it."
South Carolina has to win today, though, to continue playing.