Going into the Raleigh Regional, the secondary question to who would win was, at least in a lot of people's minds, when (if at all) would Ray Tanner face his old team?
The answer: Today at 7 p.m.
The Gamecocks will take on the N.C. State Wolfpack after South Carolina thumped Charlotte, 15-8, in a win that even has Ron Morris crowing about the offense, while the Wolfpack "squeaked" past James Madison, 6-2, in a game that was closer than the score suggests.
USC received its usual production from the top five of Havens, Whit Merrifield, Smoak, James Darnell and Disher. They managed nine hits and drove in nine runs.
Behind them, the bottom four of Mack, Bangs, Andrew Crisp and Wingo produced 10 hits and drove in five runs. Crisp subbed for right fielder Harley Lail, who was injured in the second inning and left the game.
Should Lail not be available today or the remainder of the regional, Tanner will inject even more offense into the lineup with Crisp, who upped his batting average to .307 with a pair of hits Friday. Lail is hitting .235.
On to N.C. State.
The Wolfpack are not quite as offense-centric as the 49ers, and also have a shortage of power, with 58 home runs on the year.
But their pitching is a bit better, with 3.39 ERA. And, by an unlucky turn, South Carolina will face Clayton Shunick (7-5, 2.12), the ace of the N.C. State rotation. Shunick has given up just 69 hits and 21 walks in 89.1 innings. He's struck out 100.
C&F can't find a listed starter for South Carolina; his bet would be Nick Godwin (7-3, 3.02), who has surrendered 67 hits and 22 walks in 86.1 innings. That's along with 77 strikeouts.
His biggest concerns will be Ryan Pond, batting .335 with 45 RBIs; Pat Ferguson, with a 0.962 OPS; and Marcus Jones and Matt Payne, tied for the team lead in RBIs with 47.
N.C. State leads the all-time series 33-21, though the Gamecocks beat the Wolfpack in the two team's last game 16 years ago.
The coach then?