Gamecocks sweep Mississippi State; Travel to Auburn next
Man, did the Gamecocks need that sweep of Mississippi State this weekend. It finally put the Gamecocks over .500 in the SEC, and put them back in position to contend for both a hosting gig and a national seed in the post-season.
The series wasn’t necessarily pretty , but somehow, this week, the Gamecocks managed to find a way to win. #winanyway, as it were. (Side note: are we still using that hashtag this season? If not, do we have a new one?)
Friday night, Michael Roth just wasn’t on. He wasn’t off…he just wasn’t as effective as he normally is. Not a big deal. Even our ace pitcher is allowed to have an off day. By the 7th inning, the Gamecocks were trailing by 3 after giving up a 3 run lead. Thankfully, in the 8th inning, the Gamecocks bats came alive, as Grayson Griener led off the inning with a home run and pinch hitter Sean Sullivan slammed a two-out triple to tie the game. Thanks to a Mississippi State wild pitch, Sullivan went on to score what became the winning run. Matt Price came in and earned the save. Truly a win in the spirit of Friday the 13th.
Freshman (and apparent new Saturday starter) Jordan Montgomery threw 6.1 innings on Saturday afternoon, giving up only 1 run. Matt Price (again) earned the save. The Gamecocks put 5 on the board on a string of 2 out hits through the first 6 innings. Things were a little touch-and-go for the Gamecocks as they gave up 3 runs in the 7th, but they managed to hang on and win 5-3, cementing the series victory.
On an utterly gorgeous, albeit hot, Sunday afternoon, Colby Holmes took the mound to try to lead the Gamecocks to their first SEC sweep of the season. Holmes pitched 8.1 innings, gave up 4 runs, and only 8 hits. Tyler Webb earned the save. The pitching staff was well supported by their offense, as the Gamecocks tallied 11 hits and 6 runs. They were helped along by a pair of Mississippi State errors, but a win is a win, right? Right. The Gamecocks won 6-4 to complete the sweep of the Bulldogs.
Some things of note:
Grayson Greiner. The freshman catcher hit two doubles and a solo home run in the series against Mississippi State plus a grand slam in Tuesday night’s game against the Citadel. That was good enough to earn him SEC Freshman of the Week honors this week. Well played Mr. Greiner. Congratulations!
Jordan Montgomery. It appears that the freshman lefty has cemented his spot in the weekend rotation. Montgomery allowed one run on three hits last weekend against Tennessee, which was good enough to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors. He then came out and pitched another stellar 6+ innings against Mississippi State. Montgomery now boasts a 2.48 ERA with 31 strikeouts, 4 walks, and a 3-0 record. For reasons beyond my control, I’ve missed the past two Saturday games, so I have yet to see Montgomery pitch live, but everything I’ve heard has been praise.
LB Dantzler. His batting average might not show it, but Dantzler has 30 RBI, good enough for 11th place in the SEC. He also drove in 5 runs in the Mississippi State series. He has been pretty steady at 3rd base too, helping to anchor the infield.
The 2nd Base Question. It still doesn’t seem like Coach Tanner has made a firm decision about his second baseman. Or maybe he’s decided to just go with two and switch them up as necessary. I said in this post that whomever started the Clemson series at 2nd base would win the starting job. That was Chase Vergason, and he’s certainly been back in the lineup more recently. He’s gotten some hits when the Gamecocks needed them and his defense has been solid. I wouldn’t rule out Erik Payne yet, but as good as Vergason has looked lately, he may be a more likely day-to-day guy.
Traveling to Auburn. The Tigers are 19-16 (7-8 SEC). They lost two of three to Vanderbilt this weekend. To be honest, I haven’t heard much about Auburn baseball this year, so I don’t have too much to say. An SEC series on the road is always a tough atmosphere, but if the Gamecocks can continue to build on the momentum they gathered during the Mississippi State series, they should be able to walk away with a win or two. Or three.
vs. College of Charleston – 4/17, 7 p.m. (on SportsSouth)
at Auburn – 4/20, 7 p.m.
at Auburn – 4/21, 4 p.m. (on SportsSouth)
at Auburn – 4/22, 2 p.m.
The Gamecocks are now 27-10 (8-7 SEC). They are ranked #9 in the Baseball America poll and #13 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.