By Eric Olson/The Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. — Kent State and two-time defending national champion South Carolina will meet Thursday morning after rain postponed their College World Series elimination game Wednesday night.
The winner will have to play a second game Thursday night against well-rested Arkansas.
“Well, that’s what happens when you get in the losers’ bracket,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “That’s why you always say you should stay in the winners’ bracket, so you don’t have to worry about things like that.
“It’s not going to be easy certainly to beat two SEC teams in one day. That’s a great story if it happens. We have to worry about South Carolina first. If we win, we’ll go home, take a nap and see if we can get back at Arkansas.”
A line of showers moved into the Omaha area about an hour before Wednesday’s game was scheduled to start. Radar indicated squalls would move through the area until late in the evening.
It probably would have been 10:30 local time before the game could have started. NCAA officials believed it would have been unfair to have Kent State (47-19) and South Carolina (46-18) start so late and then have the winner come back to play again Thursday night.
First pitch Thursday will be at 12:08 p.m. EDT.
Arizona (45-17) against Florida State (50-16) will follow at 5:08 p.m., with the Wildcats advancing to the championship round if they win. An FSU win would force another game Friday between teams to determine which one goes to the best-of-three finals.
Thursday’s third game is scheduled for 9:08 p.m.
Kent State’s pitching plans won’t change. Tyler Skulina (11-2) will start against South Carolina. If the Golden Flashes win, David Starn (11-4) or Ryan Mace (2-3) would be available against Arkansas (46-20).
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said the rainout gives him the option of starting ace Michael Roth (8-1) against the Flashes. No. 3 pitcher Jordan Montgomery (5-1) was the scheduled starter Wednesday.
“We’ll go back and talk it over,” Tanner said. “If we’re going to stay here and advance, Montgomery has to pitch (sometime).”
If the South Carolina-Kent State winner beats Arkansas, the teams would play again Friday for a spot in the finals that start Sunday.
Officials decided to postpone Wednesday’s game about 90 minutes after its scheduled starting time. Both coaches agreed the decision was correct.
“Playing at midnight is not a very good option,” Stricklin said. “Starting at 10:30, getting done at 1:30 and going back to the hotel, what are you going to eat and how are they going to sleep? Then the winner has to come back. We always talk about student-athlete welfare. The NCAA guys wanted to make sure our guys were in the best scenario possible.”