It's become a kind of May tradition, about as much as the flowers blooming, the weather getting warmer, and hamburgers and hot dogs being put on the grill: the Gamecocks packing their things, busing down to Hoover, Alabama for the SEC Baseball Tournament—only to return just a few days later without a win.
No one can explain why the Gamecocks struggle so much in Hoover. Basically everyone has given up trying to do so, and that was before Carolina's latest mishap at the Met, a 5-1 loss to Missouri today to put an end what has been a disappointing season.
We saw in a nutshell a glimpse of what this season has been in the 8th inning. With runners at second and third with nobody out in a 3-1 ballgame, DC Arendas struck out, followed by Kyle Martin, who, even with a pair of foul popups being dropped by Tigers players, struck out as well. Elliott Caldwell ended up flying out to end the frame.
1) That was probably the season, because miracles don't happen in Hoover 2) That was a pretty good microcosm of the season tbh— G&B Attack (@GABAttack) May 19, 2015
Wrap your mind around this: The Gamecocks are 2-13 in their last fifteen games in Hoover. And, in case you haven't been following this program long, they didn't win an SEC Tournament game in 2010 and didn't make it out of the second round in 2011, the two years that they won the College World Series.
The only difference between this year and years past: there wasn't really an expectation for this team to do much in Hoover this time around.
The Gamecocks entered this year's tournament as the tenth seed, just 31-25 and six games over .500 before today, only the fourth time in the last twenty-five seasons that they've lost 25 or more games (1990, 1995 and 2006) and their fewest wins since winning 31 in 1978 and 1979. Their 13-17 conference record was their first non-winning SEC mark since the aforementioned 1999 season. While they may have been able to get away with no-showing at Hoover in past years thanks to their strong regular season marks (good enough to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team), they had zero margin for error this time around.
So it's on to next year. Instead of a long trip home to Columbia with a regional to look forward to, the Gamecocks will be headed home to clean out their lockers, hoping—wishing—that in 2016, things will be better.
And hopefully, for the fans of this program, better is indeed around the corner.