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SCarolina, Clemson on collision course in NCAAs

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- All three of South Carolina's college
baseball powerhouses will get to stay in the state for the opening
round of the NCAA baseball tournament.

Coastal Carolina was sent to the Clemson regional, while South
Carolina learned it was the No. 4 seed national as the field was
announced Monday.

There was one more juicy nugget, as the selection committee matched the winners of the two in-state regionals in the super regional round, meaning the Gamecocks could end up facing the Tigers or Chanticleers in a best-of-3 series to decide who goes to the College World Series.

But all three coaches insisted first things first -- winning next
weekend's double-elimination regional.

"We realize we're matched up together," South Carolina coach
Ray Tanner said. "But I certainly think that they've got a couple
of teams to contend with up there. We've got a very difficult
field."

The Gamecocks (45-14) open their regional Friday against Georgia
Southern (36-24), while Stetson (41-18) plays North Carolina State
(24-25) on the other side of the bracket.

Tanner wasn't ready to say whether ace Michael Roth will get the
start Friday or be saved for later in the tournament.

Roth said it didn't matter because any team South Carolina faces
will be tough.

Stetson was in the running for a national seed for much of the season, North Carolina State swept No. 3 national seed North Carolina, and Georgia Southern's Victor Roache leads the country with 30 home runs.

What the Gamecocks need to do is put their disappointing early
exit in the Southeastern Conference tournament behind them, Roth
said.

"Obviously we didn't play great defense and the last two games
we didn't hit well enough. So, coming into this weekend, we're
going to be fired up," Roth said.

The Gamecocks have won 16 straight NCAA tournament games in
Columbia, with the last loss coming in 2002, and have never lost a
regional they hosted in Columbia since Tanner arrived 15 years ago.

South Carolina has been to 12 NCAAs in a row, while Coastal
Carolina and Clemson have each just missed one postseason since
2001.

While the Tigers (41-18) are the host of their regional, the
Chanticleers (41-18) only picked up a No. 3 seed.

Coastal Carolina will open against Connecticut (41-17-1).
Pitching matchups haven't been announced, but both teams have aces.

Anthony Meo has a 2.21 ERA and pitched a no-hitter in the Big South
Conference tournament, while Matt Barnes is 11-3 with a 1.12 ERA
for the Huskies.

Clemson beat Coastal Carolina 5-4 earlier this year, but
Chanticleers coach Gary Gilmore said he is ignoring the Tigers for
now.

"It doesn't matter who else is in that regional right now. We
can only focus on one and hopefully we can get by those guys,"
Gilmore said.

Clemson opens Friday with Sacred Heart (34-21). The Tigers
played their way into hosting a regional by winning 27 of the last
33 games after starting the season at 14-12.

"I feel like we're playing real well," pitcher Jonathan Meyer
said. "Pitching is coming on strong. I feel like everybody is
fitting into their roles real well. I feel the hitting is coming up
big when we need it."

The Tigers have advanced from the past six regionals they have
hosted, but coach Jack Leggett said playing at home is not enough
by itself.

"It's much nicer playing at home," Leggett said. "But you've
still got to go out and earn it."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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