If you want the number that sealed the Gamecocks' fate in a game that could have put them far ahead of the other contenders, it is this: 2-for-11. That was how South Carolina did with runners in scoring position.
It is now why they are in a fight for their tournament lives.
It didn't help that Nick Godwin wasn't exactly sharp. Sure, he lasted 5.1 innings and gave up four runs, three earned. On most days, that would be enough for the Gamecocks lineup.
But Godwin seemed to be getting in and out of trouble all night long. The Wolfpack ended up stranding 10 men despite winning, 5-4.
In any case, the Gamecocks are now one-and-done. That means they need two wins today: One against James Madison and one against N.C. State. And that just to force a Monday finale against the Wolfpack.
The battles could come down to pitching. James Madison doesn't have much left, according to Spanky.
He was unsure who would start this afternoon, other than it will be between the only two pitchers he hasn’t used yet. Both are freshman left-handers: James Weiner (0-0, 7.12 ERA, no starts) or Alex Valadja (0-0, 13.78 ERA, four starts.)
"Neither one of them has pitched much this year," McFarland said. "I told the pitchers after the game obviously we’re going to use those two guys early because they’re fresh. ...
"I mean from this point on we have to now just use Charlie Wholestaff and keep changing and try and get an inning there and an inning there."
Meanwhile, South Carolina has some options, according to Ron Morris. But it also has problems.
If any team is prepared to work its way out of the losers’ bracket of a double-elimination tournament, it is USC. ...
There cannot be many teams in the country facing elimination with a pair of healthy and fresh arms that once anchored the Saturday and Sunday spots in conference play. Yet USC has just that.
Right-hander Blake Cooper will start against James Madison this afternoon. Should USC win, lefty Will Atwood will go in the nightcap against N.C. State. ...
With Cisco unlikely to pitch today in relief, USC still has not solved its bullpen problems. Therein lies the counter argument to any thinking that USC’s pitching is positioned to fight its way out of the losers bracket and to the regional title.
To get to the 6 p.m. game against N.C. State -- and thus through the 1 p.m. matchup with James Madison -- Cooper will have to navigate a lineup with a .927 OPS.
That includes Brett Sellers, batting .413 with 17 home runs and a 1.229 OPS; and Steven Caseres, with 21 homers and a 1.178 OPS. Put together, the lineup has 72 home runs.
Spanky does have a tough choice when picking who to put up against the Gamecocks. Both of his remaining choices have WHIPs that not please a sabermetrician. Weiner has allowed 24 hits and 13 walks in 24.0 innings; the numbers for Valadja are 30 hits and 12 walks in 16.1 innings. Weiner also holds the edge in batting average against, .264 to .405. But, again, Valadja has the starting experience, such as it is.
The Gamecocks have an 8-1 record against the Dukes.
Should South Carolina get through James Madison, Eric Surkamp (5-2, 4.39) will get the ball for N.C. State. In 69.2 innings, Surkamp has surrendered 72 hits and 34 walks to go with 82 strikeouts.
N.C. State, of course, now has a 34-21 mark against South Carolina. The Gamecocks will have to start a two-game winning streak in that series to go to the super regional.
South Carolina vs. James Madison AUDIO.
South Carolina vs. James Madison GAMETRACKER.