Monthly Archives: February 2012
Let’s start with a celebration…
Congratulations to Michael Roth on being named SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week! Roth is sharing the honor with Bobby Wahl of Ole Miss.
It was another great weekend for Gamecock Baseball, as the Yardcocks swept Elon in their second series of the season. The Gamecocks won decisively in two of the three games (8-1 on Friday and 6-0 on Sunday), and pulled off another close victory on Saturday, defeating the Phoenix 3-2. USC went on to defeat Presbyterian in their first mid-week game, 2-1.
Once again, the Gamecocks pitching staff was on fire, combining for 32 strikeouts on the weekend, and adding another 6 on Tuesday evening. The hero of Tuesday’s game would have to be freshman shortstop, Joey Pankake. He launched a home run into the Blue Hose bullpen to break a 4th inning tie. Of course, he may have had a little luck on his side as Tuesday was National Pancake Day.
It was another solid set of games for the Gamecocks. The bats started to get going, the pitching remains almost scarily good, and the new players are settling in. There is still the question of who will be the regular starter at 2nd base. I haven’t seen all three contenders play there yet so I’m reserving judgment. I’d be willing to bet that whoever starts the Clemson series will end up with the starting job.
And speaking of the Clemson series…it starts Friday night. The Gamecocks and the Tigers will play game 1 on Friday night in Charleston (Clemson will be the home team), game 2 in Columbia, and game 3 in Clemson. Just like any time Carolina and Clemson meet in a sporting event, this series promises heated competition. Last year USC took two of three from the Tigers. And let’s not forget the 2010 CWS when the Gamecocks beat the Tigers twice to make it to the championship series and ultimately to win the title. There’s no doubt that these games will be intense.
The Tigers seemed to struggle in their series against Maine last weekend, losing the opening game of the series but then bouncing back to win games two and three. The same thing happened during the first weekend of the season against UAB. Both losses were only by one run, though it should be noted that in the loss to Maine, all of Maine’s runs came with two outs. There’s no doubt that Clemson is a tough team, and they always seem to show up to play against Carolina.
So let’s do a little comparison:
Carolina overall record: 7-0
Clemson overall record: 4-2
Carolina team ERA: 0.83 (prior to the PC game)
Clemson team ERA: 2.83
Carolina opp. batting average: .102 (prior to PC)
Clemson opp. batting average: .290
Carolina pitching through 54 innings: 18 hits, 68 Ks, 12 walks
Clemson pitching through 54 innings: 60 hits, 45 Ks, 16 walks
Carolina batting (prior to PC): .292 avg, .349 on base percentage, .422 slugging percentage
Clemson batting: .285 avg, .384 on base percentage, .440 slugging percentage
Carolina fielding (prior to PC): .982
Clemson fielding: .967
On paper it looks like the teams are pretty evenly matched at the plate, with a very slight edge going to Clemson. USC has that same edge when it comes to pitching. It will be interesting to see how Clemson’s potent lineup matches up against USC’s stellar pitching.
Friday in Charleston, 6 p.m. (Clemson is the home team)
Saturday in Columbia, 2 p.m.
Sunday in Clemson, 2 p.m. (streaming on ESPN3.com)
The Gamecocks are still ranked #2 by Collegiate Baseball and #3 by Baseball America.
Disclaimer: I was only able to attend Friday’s game, so this post isn’t nearly as in-depth as it should be. I hope to resume live Tweeting the games during the series this weekend. You can follow along at @ThoughtfulCock.
Finally. Baseball season is here! Not being a basketball fan, the time between the BCS title game and first pitch seems to drag on forever. After what seemed like an eternity, opening day arrived, and I, in all of my season ticket holder glory, headed out to Carolina Stadium to celebrate the reigning national champions.
Friday’s game was a little rough in patches – a few miscues on some seemingly routine plays had some of the fans around me a bit worried. The inability to get too much going offensively had me a little worried (clearly unnecessarily. See also: Sunday’s 13-1 drubbing of VMI). Michael Roth pitched six strong innings, allowing one run, but striking out six. Over the course of the weekend, the Gamecocks’ pitching staff combined for 36 strikeouts, 4 walks, and a 1.33 ERA. I’ll take that as the start to a season any day. Carolina’s bats were pretty quiet for the first two games (except for Evan Marzilli, who hit .500 over the course of the weekend), but then exploded in the final game of the series.
I think that Gamecock Nation can take it as a good sign that the baseball team was able to win two tight games and then come back and utterly dominate in the third. There were certainly a lot of questions heading into this season: How will Matt Price do as a starter? Who will replace Price as a closer? How will the Gamecocks cope with replacing 3/4 of their infield? We’ve only played three games so far, but Price struck out 7 and allowed 2 runs over more than 5 innings, Forrest Koumas earned the save in game 1 (including striking out the final batter looking), and the infield, after a few jitters early on Friday seemed to settle down. Again, I’ll take it as a good sign.
This team is clearly young. But it also has proven veterans in Roth, Adam Matthews, Christian Walker, Price, and Marzilli. Will this team make a run for a third CWS Championship? It’s possible, but way too soon to tell. The Gamecocks had a very solid opening weekend, but there’s always room for improvement.
After week 1 of the season, South Carolina remains ranked 3rd in the Baseball America poll, behind #1 Florida (2-1) and #2 Stanford (3-0). The Gamecocks are ranked 2nd behind Florida in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
Friday (2/24) vs. Elon: 3 p.m.
Saturday (2/25) vs. Elon: 1:30 p.m.
Sunday (2/26) vs. Elon: 1:30 p.m.