(17) USC Hosts Charleston Southern this Weekend
By: USC SID
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — South Carolina (12-2) hosts Charleston Southern (8-5) in a three-game series beginning on Friday night. First pitch for the opener is 7 p.m. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 4 p.m. with Sunday’s series finale slated for 1:30 p.m. All three games will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus. They also can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.” Please note, radio broadcast is subject to change due to the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Should basketball be broadcast at the same time, the baseball game will be moved to 1320 AM, “The Fan.”
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
South Carolina – Clarke Schmidt (So. RHP) 3-0, 0.43 ERA, 21.0 IP, 5 BB, 23 SO
Charleston Southern – Evan Raynor (Sr. RHP) 3-0, 0.43 ERA, 21.0 IP, 7 BB, 19 SO
South Carolina – Braden Webb (Fr. RHP) 2-1, 2.51 ERA, 14.1 IP, 11 BB, 17 SO
Charleston Southern – Daniel Johnson (So. LHP) 2-1, 4.34 ERA, 18.2 IP, 6 BB, 14 SO
South Carolina – Adam Hill (Fr. RHP) 3-0, 0.64 ERA, 14.0 IP, 2 BB, 24 SO
Charleston Southern – Jon Piriz (Sr. RHP) 0-1, 1.93 ERA, 14.0 IP, 2 BB, 12 SO
South Carolina is ranked No. 16 in the USA Today coaches poll, No. 17 by D1Baseball, and No. 21 by Collegiate Baseball.
South Carolina won a pair of midweek games this week with a 5-4 win over Furman and a 7-1 victory over Wofford.
John Jones and Alex Destino each and South Carolina scored five runs in the first three innings on the way to a 5-4 win over Furman on Wednesday night. Right-hander Tyler Haswell earned the win in relief.He allowed one run on two hits in 2.1 innings. Left-hander Josh Reagan pitched a perfect ninth to earn his fourth save this season. Carolina stole a Founders Park record six stolen bases as well.
All nine Gamecock starters tallied at least one hit and four Gamecock pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts as 16th-ranked South Carolina defeated Wofford 7-1 to snap a two-game losing streak on Tuesday night at Founders Park. Dom Thompson-Williams went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Chris Cullen added two hits and LT Tolbert drove in a pair of runs.In a predetermined split, freshman right-hander Adam Hill went three innings and allowed one run on three hits and five strikeouts to earn the win. He is 3-0 on the year.
SCHMIDT NAMED SEC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore right-hander Clarke Schmidt was named SEC Pitcher of the Week on Monday. He struck out a career-high nine batters in eight scoreless innings of work in Friday’s 8-1 win over Clemson. Schmidt’s outing was the longest of his career. He is 3-0 on the year with a 0.43 ERA after three starts. Schmidt has struck out 23 batters to just five walks. He has allowed one run on nine hits in 21.0 innings of work. Opponents are batting .143 against him. Schmidt earned the Tom Price Award as MVP of the Gamecocks for the Clemson series. Schmidt’s ERA ranks second-best in the SEC. He is also fifth-best in opposing batting average and tied for sixth-highest in the league in strikeouts. Schmidt is one of nine pitchers in the SEC with three wins on the year.
In the start before Clemson, he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed just one walk and one hit while striking out eight batters in a 7-1 win over Penn State.
Sophomore first baseman Alex Destino was 5-for-5 with four RBI in Friday’s 8-1 win over Clemson. Destino’s five hits are a career-high as well. He is hitting .339 (20-for-59) for the season with three homers, 17 RBI and 12 runs scored. He has a .508 slugging percentage also. Destino is tied for second on the team with three multi-RBI games and third with five multi-hit games. He enters Friday with a six-game hitting streak. Destino ranks 10th in the SEC in runs batted in.
Destino homered twice including a grand slam homer and drove in seven runs, the most by any SEC player this year in a game in South Carolina’s 16-5 win over Penn State.
HILL ON THE MOUND
Freshman right-hander Adam Hill has been impressive in his first three career starts for the Garnet & Black. Hill is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA and has allowed just eight hits and two walks while striking out 24 batters in 14.0 innings pitched. Opponents are batting .178 against him.
Junior outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams has reached base safely in all 14 games. This week he was 2-for-4 with a run scored in 5-4 win over Furman and 3-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored and three RBI in Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Wofford.
Thompson-Williams is second on the Gamecocks with a .385 batting average (20-for-52) for the season. He has scored 16 runs and has a .500 on-base percentage as well as a .577 slugging mark.
REAGAN FROM THE LEFT
Junior left-hander Josh Reagan has not allowed a run in six relief appearances this season. Reagan pitched a perfect ninth inning in Wednesday’s 5-4 win over Furman for his fourth save of the year. Prior that performance, Reagan pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in Sunday’s contest at Clemson.
He has pitched 10.1 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed and two walks while striking out 12 batters. Reagan is tied for first in the SEC in saves.
Sophomore catcher John Jones had a pair of multi-hit games last e week. He was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in Tuesday’s 6-3 win at The Citadel. He went 2-for-3 with a walk in Sunday’s game at Clemson as well. Jones hit a two-run homer on Wednesday in the win over Furman.
Jones leads the Gamecocks and the SEC with a .480 batting average (24-for-50). He also has 15 runs scored and 21 RBI. He owns a .594 on-base percentage and a .780 slugging mark. Jones is also second in on-base percentage, home runs and runs batted in as well as third in slugging percentage. Jones has a team-high seven multi-RBI games and a team-high eight multi-hit contests.
Jones earned National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball and SEC Co-Player of the Week after putting together arguably one of the greatest weekends at the plate in school history in the Penn State series. Jones reached base in all 14 plate appearances vs. Penn State batting 1.000 (8-for-8) with six walks for an OBP of 1.000 as well. Jones went 4-for-4 with a homer and four RBI in a 7-1 series-opening win vs. the Nittany Lions. He followed that up with a grand slam and tying a single-game school record with four walks in Saturday’s 16-5 victory vs. Penn State. In the series finale, Jones went 3-for-3 including a two-run single and a walk in the 4-2 win to sweep the series vs. Penn State. Jones’ slugging percentage for the weekend was 1.750 also.
In records going back to 1997, Jones is the only Gamecock in school history to start three games in a series and put up a 1.000 OBP, besting the previous mark of .875 set by Christian Walker in 2011 at Mississippi State as well as Walker’s .909 batting average (10-for-11). Jones’ six walks tied for the most by a Gamecock in a series since Scott Wingo’s six walks vs. Brown in 2010. Jones’ 10 RBI are the most by a Gamecock in a series since LB Dantzler drove in 10 vs. Albany vs. 2013. Jones’ 1.750 slugging percentage is the best in a series since Steven Neff’s 2.000 slugging mark vs. Arkansas in 2011.
South Carolina pitchers own a team ERA of 2.03, second-best in the SEC and lead in opponents batting average with opposing teams hitting just .189 on the year against the Gamecocks. South Carolina has 143 strikeouts to 45 walks in 124.0 innings pitched. The Gamecocks have allowed five runs or less in all 14 games this year.
AT THE PLATE & ON THE FIELD
South Carolina is hitting .312 (148-for-474) as a team with a .415 on-base percentage and a .420 slugging mark. The Gamecocks are fielding .980 on the year. Carolina has not committed an error in eight of 14 games this year. The Gamecocks have not made an error in three straight games.
MOONEY IN THE MIDDLE
Senior infielder Marcus Mooney is fourth-best in hitting for the team with a .316 batting average (12-for-38). He has 10 walks, two hit by pitches to two strikeouts. He owns a .480 on-base percentage. Mooney had two hits and a run scored in Friday’s 8-1 win vs. Clemson. He had a two-out RBI single in the 6-3 win at The Citadel.
JONAH WITH A JOLT
Sophomore infielder Jonah Bride went 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI in Friday’s 8-1 win vs. Clemson. He drove in a run also in last Tuesday’s win at The Citadel.
Bride is hitting .292 (14-for-48) with six RBI and 16 runs scored and a .466 on-base percentage. Bride’s 16 runs scored is tied for eighth-highest in the SEC along with teammate Dom Thompson-Williams. Bride leads the SEC in hit by pitch with eight.
Freshman right-hander Braden Webb struck out a season-high seven batters in Saturday’s game vs. Clemson. Webb has 17 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. Opponents are batting .148 against him. He is 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA on the year
CULLEN CATCHING ON
Freshman catcher Chris Cullen has seen action in 11 games with nine starts behind the plate. Cullen had a six-game hitting streak snapped last Friday. He is batting .314 (11-for-35) with five runs scored and eight RBI. He went 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored Tuesday vs. Wofford.
Junior right-hander Reed Scott worked three scoreless innings of relief in the 5-4 win over Furman. He picked up his first win of the season with 3.1 scoreless innings in a 4-2 win over Penn State. Scott did not allow a hit, walked just one and had a strikeout to earn the victory. Scott is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA in five appearances with 10 innings pitched.
THE VERSATILE LT
Freshman infielder LT Tolbert had a key two-run single in Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Wofford.
He has started 12 of 14 games with five starts at second base, four starts at first base, two at designated hitter and a start at shortstop. Tolbert is hitting .239 (11-for-46) with six runs scored and six RBI.
South Carolina freshman outfielder TJ Hopkins has seen some action with seven starts in right field. Hopkins is hitting .250 (7-for-23) with three runs scored, a homer and six RBI.
Hopkins had a three-run homer and four RBI in last Wednesday’s 16-4 win over Winthrop. Hopkins tied a single-game school record with two outfield assists on Opening Day. vs. Albany.
BOWERS BRINGS IT
All six outs recorded by junior right-hander Colie Bowers in Friday’s 7-1 win over Penn State were by strikeout. Bowers has eight strikeouts in 3.1 innings in a pair of relief appearances this year.
Bowers won his first career game with the Gamecocks after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts in the 8-1 win over Albany.
Bowers is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings with eight strikeouts on the year. Opponents are batting .059 against him. He has allowed just one hit this year, a solo home run against Penn State.
Senior infielder DC Arendas had two hits in a 16-5 win over Penn State and followed that up with a 2-for-2 day with a run in a 4-2 win over the Nittany Lions. Arendas has a .351 on-base percentage. He is fielding 1.000 with 17 putouts and 25 assists at second base in 13 games.
Sophomore right-hander Brandon Murray retired all eight batters he faced in a 6-3 win at The Citadel. Murray has a 1.29 ERA in 7.0 innings with six strikeouts, opponents batting .192 against him.
Murray pitched a scoreless inning in the 7-1 win over Wofford with two strikeouts.
Four different Gamecocks have started in center field in the first 14 games. Dom Thompson-Williams made his first start in center field in Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Wofford. He also started in center in Wednesday’s contest vs. Furman.
Sophomore Clark Scolamiero has five starts and is hitting .250 (4-for-16) with three runs scored and three RBI.
Junior Gene Cone has seen action in 11 games with nine starts including two in center. He is hitting .233 (7-for-30) with three RBI and six runs scored.
Freshman Danny Blair also has five starts and seen action in eight games. Blair had a career day going 3-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a RBI in Saturday’s 16-5 win over Penn State. He was 2-for-5 with a RBI double on Tuesday night at The Citadel. He is hitting .273 (6-for-22).
JOHNSON BRINGS THE HEAT
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Johnson has made five appearances through the first 13 games. Johnson pitched a career-high four scoreless innings and struck out a career-high seven batters in the 7-1 win over Wofford. Johnson has 13 strikeouts in 6.2 innings for the year.
SCOUTING CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Charleston Southern enters the weekend 8-5 on the year and riding a five-game winning streak. The Buccaneers swept UMass last week and won a pair of midweek contests this week vs. North Carolina Central and USC Upstate.
Sophomore outfielder Chris Singleton has been the most productive player at the plate for the Bucs thus far as he is batting .389 (18-for-47) a homer, triple, four doubles and a team-high 15 RBI. Senior outfielder Sly Edwards leads in hitting with a .413 batting average (19-for-46) with nine runs and seven RBI. On the mound, senior right-hander Evan Raynor has been productive with a 3-0 record and a 0.43 ERA. He has 19 strikeouts in 21.0 innings with opponents batting .116 against him. Senior right-hander Chayce Hubbard has been the primary closer with three saves.
Charleston Southern head coach Stuart Lake served as assistant at South Carolina from 1999-2002. CSU assistant Chris Brown played at South Carolina from 2005-06.
THE CHARLESTON SOUTHERN SERIES
South Carolina is 70-12 vs. Charleston Southern in the series history including a 10-4 victory in Columbia last year.
A six-run seventh inning lifted the Gamecocks to the win. Trailing 4-3 entering the seventh, DC Arendas was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and quickly scored after a sacrifice bunt from and a RBI single off the bat of Marcus Mooney. Gene Cone followed with a bunt for a base hit and both runners then advanced on a wild pitch. Elliott Caldwell drew a walk, loading the bases for Kyle Martin, who was hit by a pitch to score Mooney. With the bases still loaded, Alex Destino crushed a 2-1 pitch to right field for his first career grand slam.