Series of the weekend
Coastal Carolina sweeps Appalachian State
The Chanticleers (36-18-1) wrapped up the Sun Belt Conference's regular-season championship in their first year in the league by sweeping the Mountaineers in a three-game series. Coastal entered the weekend percentage points behind South Alabama in the East Division standings. South Alabama stumbled in its opener with Troy and that provided the opening Coastal needed to move into first play. The defending national champion Chanticleers closed conference play with an 11-game winning streak.
Game of the day
USC Upstate 13, New Jersey Tech 12
The teams finished 7-8 in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings and failed to qualify for the conference tournament, but combined for a memorable season finale at Cleveland S. Harley Park in Spartanburg. Upstate (24-31) held a 5-0 lead after two innings, but New Jersey Tech scored the game's next seven runs and led 7-5 after 5 1/2 innings. The Spartans scored four runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to go ahead 10-12. New Jersey Tech's second five-run inning of the day gave the visitors a 12-10 going to the bottom of the ninth. All five Spartans hitters to come to the plate reached base, with Hunter Gibson's single to short right field driving in the tying and winning runs. Charlie Carpenter had two homers while J.J. Shimko and Russel Schwertfeger added four hits apiece as part of the 18-hit Upstate attack.
Rising: Florence-Darlington Tech (42-17) went 3-0 in the Eastern District Tournament and earned its first trip to the NJCAA World Series. Two of the wins were over Region 10 rival USC Lancaster (41-17), including a 14-0 win in Saturday's title game.
Falling: South Carolina (32-23) lost its eight straight SEC series and played itself out of at-large contention for the NCAA Tournament. USC avoided a sweep against Georgia with a 10-0 win on Saturday. USC's only path to the postseason now is to win the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks are have lost their last eight SEC Tournament games.
Elsewhere across the state:
*Winthrop (31-22) won the Big South Conference regular-season championship with an 8-1 win over Radford to claim a 2-1 series win.
* Clemson (39-17) pounded N.C. State, 15-6, to avoid being swept in its final ACC series of the season. The Tigers played without center fielder Chase Pinder, who suffered an injury while attempting to make a play in Friday night's game. Regular catcher Chris Williams, injured earlier this month, played designated hitter and contributed a home run.
* Furman (29-26) assured itself of a winning season with a 2-1 series win at Belmont. The Paladins won the first two games before dropping a rain-shortened series finale on Saturday. Furman entered the weekend with an outside shot at either second or third in the Southern Conference, but didn't get the needed help in other games. Still, the Paladins went 18-6 in their final 24 regular-season games. Included in that was a 13-2 SoCon mark as they overcame a 1-8 start to finish at 14-10 in the league in Brett Harker's first season as head coach. It was a costly weekend for the Paladins. First baseman and offensive stalwart Brandon Elmy suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday and is not expected to be back in time for the SoCon Tournament beginning Wednesday. Elmy shared the team lead with 11 home runs.
* Presbyterian (29-26) salvaged the third game of its series at Liberty to earn the No. 3 seed for the Big South Tournament. That's the best since the Blue Hose joined the league. Connor Jahn took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, while Nick Wise and Nick Guimbarda led the offense.
* Wofford (28-28) spotted The Citadel (16-34) a pair of unearned first-inning runs, but rallied to win the rubber game of their series, 4-2, in Charleston. Kody Ruedisili reached base five times and three Terriers pitchers combined to go nine inning without allowing an earned run.
* Charleston Southern (22-29) snapped a nine-game losing streak and used a four-run sixth to top Air Force, 4-3, and avoid a three-game sweep. The Buccaneers, who suffered one-run losses in the first two games, entered the weekend with an outside chance to qualify for Big South Tournament, but other results did not go their way.
* Tommy Richter had four hits and Danny Wondrack added three as College of Charleston (26-29) avoided a CAA sweep at Delaware with an 11-7 win over the Blue Hens.
* USC Aiken (40-15) was cashiered from the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional with a 7-4 loss to Catawba in Mount Olive, N.C. The Pacers needed a ninth-inning rally to win their tournament opener, then lost their next two games.
|Andrew Kitick (USC photo)|
Off the field
Andrew Kitick, media relations director for baseball during South Carolina's two College World Series championship seasons, worked his final game at Founders' Park with Saturday's 10-0 win over Georgia. He worked more than 1,000 USC baseball games and was involved in six trips to the CWS. Kitick is returning to his native Illinois and told me in an e-mail he's going to step back and figure out his next challenge. He's one of the best in the media relations business and was always good to me ... perhaps better than he should have been after I left traditional media and started this website. He was gracious in granting me press box access.
All the best, Andrew!