COLUMBIA, S.C. – After defeating The Citadel earlier in the day to register its first 40-win season since 1999, the Virginia Tech baseball team saw its resurgent campaign come to an end on Sunday night with a 10-2 loss to top-seeded South Carolina in the regional final at Carolina Stadium.
Tasked with winning two games on Sunday to stay alive and force undefeated South Carolina into a deciding game on Monday, the second-seeded and 16th-ranked Hokies came up one win short and saw their season record closed at 40-22. The eighth-ranked Gamecocks improved to 46-15 and will face either Coastal Carolina or the College of Charleston in Super Regional play next weekend.
Sophomore right-hander Mathew Price made the start on the mound just one day after he started against Bucknell, when he was pulled from the game after just 17 pitches and a nearly two-hour rain delay. He looked good early on, allowing two runs on six hits over the first five innings. But the Gamecocks figured him out in the sixth, putting up six runs on six hits in the inning to take an 8-2 lead. Price finished with a line of seven runs on 11 hits and no walks, with three strikeouts over 5.2 innings. He took the loss to fall to 7-4.
South Carolina reliever Jose Mata (7-1) picked up the win after entering the game in the fourth inning and tossing 4.1 scoreless frames of two-hit ball, while striking out five batters.
The Hokies, who were serving as the home team in this contest, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. After second baseman Michael Seaborn drew a one-out walk from USC starter Jay Brown, designated hitter Steve Domecus crushed his 13th home run of the year to left field to tie himself for the team lead in round-trippers with Buddy Sosnoskie.
South Carolina got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth by sending a pair of doubles down the left-field line. The first came from designated hitter Brady Thomas, who soon moved to third on a groundout by third baseman Adrian Morales. Thomas then came in to score on the Gamecocks’ second two-bagger, which was hit by first baseman Christian Walker.
The Gamecocks tied the game at two in the top of the fifth on sacrifice fly to center field by center fielder Jackie Bradley that scored left fielder Evan Marzilli. Marzilli had walked, moved to second on a fielder’s choice and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Price.
South Carolina exploded for six runs on six hits in the decisive sixth to build an 8-2 cushion. Second baseman Scott Wingo, Marzilli and right fielder Whit Merrifield each registered consecutive RBI singles to chase Price from the game. With Marzilli and Whitfield still on base, Bradley greeted Tech reliever Sean McDermott with a home run to right field that cleared the bags.
Morales provided an insurance run for USC in the seventh when he launched a solo home run to left field, and the Gamecocks added one more in the eighth thanks to a pair of Hokie errors to set the final score at 10-2.
Sosnoskie and Austin Wates were each named to the All-Regional Team following the game. Sosnoskie batted .353 (6-for-17) with three home runs and eight RBIs in the four games, while Wates batted .500 (8-for-16) with four runs scored, two doubles, a triple and three RBIs.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).