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Columbia Regional: Game 2 Recap

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Colby Holmes took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and South Carolina figured out Manhattan pitcher Taylor Sewitt’s sidearm delivery the third time through the batting order as the Gamecocks beat the Jaspers, 7-0, in front of 7,043 at Carolina Stadium Friday night to complete the first day of the NCAA Columbia Regional.

It was the 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament victory for the two-time defending national champion Gameoocks.

The Gamecocks (41-17) advance to play arch-rival Clemson at 4 p.m. Saturday in the winners’ bracket. Manhattan  plays Coastal Carolina at noon in an elimination game. Clemson beat Coastal Carolina, 11-3, earlier Friday.

South Carolina and Manhattan (33-26) were locked in a double no-hitter  through five innings. The Jaspers’ only baserunner over the first seven innings came when Joe McClennan was hit by a pitch with two out in the second.

“I knew coming in that Manhattan was a good team,” said Holmes, who was knocked out of his previous start in the SEC Tournament after 2 1/3 innings. “Their pitcher threw great. Coming out of the gate I had the fastball and slider working. Everything was feeling great tonight.”

“Our players will probably tell you that what happened out there tonight was exactly what I anticipated,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “We kept trying to make them understand what Sewitt (11-2) would be about. He was as good as advertised.”

“I certainly was impressed with Holmes,” Jaspers coach Jim Duffy said. “It was a valuable experience for my guys to get a taste of SEC pitching. … He threw what I seem to think is two different fastballs. He was throwing at 84, 85 (miles per hour) to get ahead and then finishing guys at 89, 90 away.”

Sewitt had some control issues – walking four and hitting one  over the first five innings – but kept Gamecocks frustrated over the first five innings.

Joey Pankake’s leadoff double in the Gamecocks’ sixth was the first hit allowed by either pitcher. Evan Marzilli followed with a soft looper over the second baseman’s head to move Pankake to third. Christian Walker walked to load the bases.

LB Dantzler fouled out to catcher on the first pitch and ace pitcher Michael Roth, who was recruited as a two-way player, come on to pinch-hit. Sewitt got Roth to take a called third strike.

Senior right-fielder Adam Matthews picked up his teammates with a line single to left to drive in two runs. It snapped a streak of 39 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings by Sewitt.

“I figured he would come at me,” Matthews said. “He threw me a 2-0 fastball right down the middle, then went with a 2-1 slide, so I knew he would come right at me.”

“I didn’t want to walk him, so I had to five him a fastball,” Sewitt said. “It wasn’t exactly where I wanted it. He’s a good hitter and hit it exactly where he should have.”

Tanner English followed with a fly ball to right that was misplayed into a two-run triple. Sewitt got Chase Vergason to pop up to complete the inning and his stint.

Holmes, a junior from Socastee, lost his no-hitter on Joe Rock’s line single to left in with two outs in the Manhattan eighth. Unfazed, Holmes struck out Chris Kalousdian to end the inning, extending his single-game career high to nine.

Walker greeted new Jaspers pitcher Nick Girardi with a first-pitch home run down the left-field line in the eighth inning.  Dantzler walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on a single by Matthews. After Matthews stole second, he went to third on a flyout and scored on double by Vergason.

Approaching inclement weather caused the game to be suspended for 1:24 in the bottom of the eighth. Holmes did not return to pitch the ninth. Patrick Sullivan allowed Manhattan its second hit before getting the final out.

Matthews had two hits and three RBIs for USC.

The Clemson-Coastal Carolina game earlier in the day also had a weather delay.