In its Southeastern Conference tournament opener, South Carolina will play an exhausted Mississippi State team on Wednesday night, as the Bulldogs beat Missouri 2-1 in 17 innings on Tuesday – in a game that crept into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Missouri-Mississippi State was a single-elimination game. With Day 1 of the tournament complete, it will now revert to a double-elimination format.
USC will go with Nolan Belcher on Wednesday night, in the day’s fourth and final game. He has been the Gamecocks’ most consistent starter all season and will be pitching on one fewer day of rest than normal, because he started Thursday at Mississippi State.
Belcher this season has a 2.17 earned-run average with 83 strikeouts and 13 walks. USC lost his start at Mississippi State, 5-4, after allowing four runs in the eighth inning. Belcher was solid that night – 6 1/3 innings, nine hits, one run (earned), three walks and four strikeouts.
Continue reading “USC will face exhausted Bulldogs on Wednesday. The historic Missouri-MSU game by the numbers.” »
The Southeastern Conference baseball tournament is currently underway in Hoover, Ala., with a morning game between Kentucky and Mississippi.
South Carolina will be the last team to play in this tournament. The Gamecocks got the No. 4 seed, and because they were one of the top four seeds, they received a bye out of the single-elimination first round – a new feature in the expanded 14-team tournament.
Once teams reach the second round, the tournament reverts to a double-elimination format. So USC will play in Wednesday’s fourth and final game, against the winner of Tuesday’s fourth game, between Missouri and Mississippi State.
As was mentioned in today’s print edition story, the SEC tournament doesn’t mean a whole lot for USC this year. The Gamecocks have almost certainly locked up Regional hosting rights for the NCAA tournament. And a top eight national seed remains several victories off. USC would probably have to win the SEC tournament (five wins in five days) in order to get a national seed, while also getting help from teams currently slotted as national seeds.
Continue reading “Breaking down how insignificant the SEC tournament has been for USC over the years” »
On Thursday, South Carolina was in prime position to get an important series-opening victory at Mississippi State, as the Gamecocks try to solidify their status as an NCAA tournament Regional host and perhaps get into the conversation to receive a top eight national seed.
They led the Bulldogs 4-1 after seven innings. Then setup man Adam Westmoreland, who had entered with one out in the seventh, allowed a leadoff home run in the eighth and was yanked in favor of closer Tyler Webb.
Westmoreland and Webb, both seniors, had been very good all season.
Continue reading “Examining how rare it is for USC to blow a lead after seven innings, as it did Thursday at MSU” »
As was mentioned in today’s print edition story, this weekend’s regular season finale series at Mississippi State is a big one for South Carolina.
In short, the Gamecocks could return from Starkville feeling better about their chances of getting a top eight national seed in the NCAA tournament, or they could feel nervous about even hosting a Regional. USC has hosted a Regional the past three years, after losing road Regionals at North Carolina State and East Carolina in 2008 and 2009.
Why does this all matter?
Well, historically, USC has been very good at home in the NCAA tournament, and not so good on the road. In 20 home tournament roads, USC has advanced 18 times. In 18 road tournament rounds, USC has advanced three times. USC’s record in home NCAA tournament games is 55-8, including a current streak of 24 victories. In road games, USC is 35-31.
Of course, that is all history, and most of those games were played before USC’s current players were on the roster.
As for this season, there are two estimable college baseball writers who spend hours projecting the NCAA tournament field. One is Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt, who was quoted in today’s story. The other is Perfect Game’s Kendall Rogers, who will be quoted extensively in this entry.
Continue reading “Why USC wants Florida State and Oregon to “play horrible” down the stretch” »
The verbal spat between South Carolina and Georgia in Sunday’s series finale was probably the most interesting thing to happen on a weekend that unfolded about how everybody expected – with USC sweeping the struggling Bulldogs by a combined score of 22-6.
It started when USC’s Joey Pankake was thrown out trying to steal third base, which ended the fourth inning. As Georgia’s players left the field, second baseman Nelson Ward and shortstop Kyle Farmer appeared to exchange words with USC third base coach Sammy Esposito. Within moments, Esposito was yelling at them, several players came out of the Georgia dugout and the umpires were trying to diffuse the confrontation.
Even after that part of it ended, Georgia first base coach Jason Jacobs said something to the USC dugout as he walked toward his coach’s box for the top of the fifth. USC coach Chad Holbrook sniped back at Jacobs, as did strength and conditioning coach Billy Anderson. Meanwhile, over the Georgia dugout, at least one player and the fans behind the dugout exchanged angry words.
In the end, Esposito, Jacobs and Anderson were all ejected, but the situation did not escalate above verbal sparring. Holbrook said Sunday that additional discipline was possible, and that he would learn Monday if any was going to be handed out.
Sure enough, on Monday, USC announced that Esposito and Anderson would be suspended for Tuesday’s home game against Presbyterian.
Continue reading “Ejections result in one-game suspensions for USC assistants Sammy Esposito and Billy Anderson” »