COLUMBIA, S.C. --The Maryland baseball team did what a lot of people didn't think was possible and, in the process, it became a most unlikely squad to enjoy a dogpile in Carolina Stadium.
The Terps won the Columbia, S.C., regional of the NCAA tournament with a 10-1 victory over top-seeded South Carolina on Sunday night and advanced to the super regionals for the first time in school history.
It's going to be an all-Atlantic Coast Conference affair as Maryland will travel to Charlottesville, Va., next weekend to face Virginia. The two teams only faced each other once this season, with the Terps earning a 7-6 victory May 22 in the ACC tournament.
“It's a pretty incredible night for our program, for our athletic department, and I think for the state of Maryland, in general,” Maryland coach John Szefc said. “I'm really happy for our program and all of the supporters. These guys worked very, very hard to get to this point.”
Maryland, which hadn't made the NCAA tournament since 1971, snapped the top-seeded Gamecocks' 28-game home postseason winning streak Saturday night and became just the second team in 15 tries to win a regional on South Carolina's home field. The only other time the Gamecocks failed to advance in a regional at home was in 1976.
“This isn't a very easy place to play,” Szefc said. “I've been to nine NCAA regionals, and this is in the top two for toughest atmospheres I've ever coached in. It was a very hostile environment, and to be successful here, you have to have very good and tough players. That's exactly what we have.”
The Terps have been one of the hottest teams in the country since suffering a four-game losing streak at the end of April. Since May 2, Maryland is 14-2, with the two losses coming in the ACC tournament.
“The difference is we've been attacking people,” catcher Kevin Martir said. “I feel like everyone bought into it and followed the goal.”
South Carolina started closer Joel Seddon after eliminating Campbell earlier Sunday behind a four-hit complete-game effort from Wil Crowe. It worked well for the first three innings, as the junior faced the minimum, thanks to Grayson Greiner throwing out two would-be base-stealers.
Second-seeded Maryland (39-21) scored two runs in the fourth to take the lead, however, on a two-run single from Blake Schmit. The senior was in an 0-2 hole with two outs before hitting a single to left field that scored Charlie White and LaMonte Wade.
“I count down early, and I was trying to do my best to put the ball in play and make the defense make a play,” Schmit said. “He left a slider over the plate, and I got enough of the barrel on it to get through the left side of the infield. That was a big turning point in the game right there.”
The Terps added a run in the fifth on a groundout by Wade before getting another two runs in the sixth with two outs. Anthony Papio hit an RBI single, and White was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Seddon pitched 5 1/3innings, allowing five runs and eight hits to fall to 3-2 on the season. He hadn't made a start since April 9, 2013.
Maryland added another run in the seventh and four more in the ninth. Eight of the nine Terps starters had at least one hit, with Schmit leading the charge with a 2-for-3 performance and three RBIs.
Maryland's Jake Drossner, Tayler Stiles and Bobby Ruse scattered nine hits but did their best work when the Gamecocks had runners on base.
South Carolina (44-18) finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 2-for-15 with runners on base. They stranded 10.
Stiles pitched two innings in relief to improve to 5-2 on the season.
The Terps placed five players on the all-tournament team. White was the Most Outstanding Player after going 6-for-11 with four runs scored in the three games. Joining him were Martir, Wade, third baseman Jose Cuas and right-hander Mike Shawaryn.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun