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South Carolina can’t overlook Georgia Southern in regional

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POSTED: June 3, 2011 9:54 a.m.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are the No. 4 overall seed in the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament. They’re the only Southeastern Conference team that has been to the regionals each year since 2000. They’ve been to Omaha for the College World Series four times in the past 11 years. They’re the defending national champions. And Georgia Southern’s got to play them today.
The Gamecocks (45-14) potentially could play an in-state rival, Clemson, in the super regionals if they advance past GSU, Stetson and North Carolina State in the Columbia, S.C., regional.
So, is there any chance Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner is looking ahead to the super regionals and a potential Clemson matchup?
“Absolutely not,” he said at a press conference after the regionals were announced Monday. “We realize that we’re matched up together, but I certainly think they’ve got a couple of teams to contend with up there, and we’re concentrating right now on trying to figure out Georgia Southern. … They’ve got a guy in the lineup, (Victor) Roache — 30 home runs.”
Tanner is an N.C. State graduate and coached there for nine years, so he knows plenty about the Atlantic Coast Conference program, but he’s familiar with Stetson (41-18) and GSU (36-24) as well.
“Stetson’s a team that I think for a while there was talk that they could play themselves into a national seed,” Tanner said. “They’re a really, really tough team. With a quick look at (the other regionals), I’ve got to think Georgia Southern is the best No. 4 seed in the country.”
Tanner’s Gamecocks haven’t faced any of the other three teams in the bracket this season, but they defeated the Eagles in extra innings in 2009 and 2010.
“Coach (Rodney) Hennon has done a tremendous job over at Georgia Southern. They’re very good and they got hot at the right time,” Tanner said. “We’ve got great respect for how good they are and how they play.”
South Carolina faces the Eagles at 7 p.m. Friday, and Tanner is certain the Gamecocks won’t look past Georgia Southern.
“I know that’s coach speak,” he said, “but that’s really the way it is.”
Note: On Thursday, Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache added Louisville Slugger All-America first-team honors to his list of accolades in 2011. The sophomore currently leads Division I baseball with 30 home runs. He is one of three outfielders on the first team and the first Eagle to appear on the first team since Matt Easterday in 2000.
Roache, the Southern Conference Player of the Year, hit .327 with nine doubles, two triples, 30 homers and 83 RBIs for a .789 slugging percentage during the regular season.

 

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