The South Carolina baseball team found itself in a familiar position on Tuesday: playing in the losers' bracket.
With Sunday's 4-3 loss to Oklahoma, the Gamecocks have lost seven straight opening-round College World Series (CWS) games in Omaha, Neb.
But as they showed against top-seeded Arizona State, there is a positive to that: They know how to fight out of the bottom-half of the bracket.
The Gamecocks made a very strong first step in that direction by clobbering No. 1 Arizona State 11-4 on Tuesday to advance in Omaha.
The Gamecocks are trying to add another notch in their losers' bracket warrior belt. In 2002, they battled through the losers' bracket to finish second. In 2004, they did the same and finished third.
They are now 5-2 in CWS games after losing the opener—not a bad way to bounce back from a little adversity.
It may seem like a knock on the program, but South Carolina seems to thrive with their backs against the wall at the CWS. Whatever works for you, guys. Just do what you do best.
This year, they will try to take one more step on that quest, and bring home the NCAA crown.
It started with a little bit of sweet revenge against the Sun Devils, who knocked the Gamecocks out of the CWS in the two teams' last CWS meeting in 1981. In fact, that was the last time Arizona State won the national championship. That may be a good sign for South Carolina, if the tables truly have turned.
The Gamecocks struggled to bring runners home in their opening-round game against Oklahoma. They went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Their only runs came off two solo home runs and a bases-loaded walk.
It would be an understatement to say that they bounced back from those woes against the top-seeded team in the tourney. But that's just what South Carolina does.
All you have to do is look at that second-inning box score, when the Gamecocks piled on an overwhelming eight runs on Arizona State. It didn't look like they had much trouble putting runs across the plate.
It was enough to put the game out of reach early, as the Gamecocks coasted the rest of the way, with only a few scoring threats raised by Arizona State.
The performance was certainly impressive, and perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised. South Carolina is no stranger to this situation.
I don't know if they are capable of running the table for a championship because that is certainly not an easy feat after dropping your first game.
What I do know is that I would not want to lose Tuesday's night cap. Playing South Carolina in the losers' bracket is the last thing you want to do with your CWS lives on the line.
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