Gamecocks Head To Georgia
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — South Carolina (28-6, 10-2 SEC) heads back on the road for a three-game SEC series vs. Georgia (18-14, 4-8 SEC) in Athens. Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. with Saturday’s contest at 6 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m. Friday and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.”
The Gamecocks lead the series history 63-53 vs. the Bulldogs. Georgia took two of three games last year in Columbia.
South Carolina – Clarke Schmidt (So. RHP) 7-1, 1.77 ERA, 56.0 IP, 10 BB, 70 SO
Georgia – Robert Tyler (Jr. RHP) 3-2, 2.78 ERA, 45.1 IP, 23 BB, 57 SO
South Carolina – Braden Webb (Fr. RHP) 7-1, 2.17 ERA, 49.2 IP, 24 BB, 63 SO
Georgia – Connor Jones (Jr. LHP) 4-2, 5.73 ERA, 37.2 IP, 23 BB, 38 SO
South Carolina – Adam Hill (Fr. RHP) 5-0, 2.87 ERA, 37.2 IP, 13 BB, 47 SO
Georgia – TBA
South Carolina is ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 5 by Baseball America and in the USA Today Coaches Poll, No. 7 by the NCBWA and No. 8 by D1Baseball and Perfect Game.
South Carolina went 4-0 last week with a victory over Coastal Carolina and a three-game series sweep of Tennessee. The Gamecocks are 28-6 and 10-2 in the SEC and are two games ahead of three schools for first place in the league. South Carolina’s 10-2 SEC start is the best start in the first 12 games by a Gamecock team since joining the SEC in 1992.
SCHMIDT WITH SUCCESS
Sophomore right-hander Clarke Schmidt earned the win in Friday’s 7-6 victory over Tennessee allowing two runs, one earned, on nine hits in six innings of work with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Schmidt is tied with teammate Braden Webb for the national lead in victories. Schmidt is 7-1 with a 1.77 ERA, the third-best ERA among SEC pitchers. He has allowed 14 runs, 11 earned, on 48 hits in 56.0 innings with 10 walks and a SEC-best 70 strikeouts. His 70 strikeouts is also second-highest in the nation. Opponents are hitting .231 against him.
Schmidt was named National Co-Pitcher of the Month for March as announced by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Schmidt won four games last month and struck out 46 batters in 37.0 innings pitched with a 2.19 ERA. Founded in 1962, the NCBWA is dedicated to the advancement of college baseball. Membership is open to writers, broadcasters and publicists of the sport.
JONAH WITH A JOLT
Sophomore infielder Jonah Bride was the leading hitter for the Gamecocks in the Tennessee series going 5-for-10 (.500) with a RBI and two runs scored as well as two walks and a hit by pitch. Bride raised his season average to .263 (31-for-118) with 16 RBI and 29 runs scored. He also owns a .407 on-base percentage with 16 walks and 14 hit by pitches. The 14 hit by pitches is tied for the league lead in the SEC.
CONE LEADS IT OFF
Junior outfielder Gene Cone has been South Carolina’s top hitter in league play. Cone has hit .370 (17-for-46) in 12 SEC games with a team-high 15 runs scored and a .491 on-base percentage.
Cone is on a 20-game hitting streak and hitting .324 (33-for-102) for the season with 24 runs scored and nine RBI to go along with a .427 on-base percentage. He was 1-for-4 with two runs in Friday’s 7-6 win over Tennessee.
Sophomore outfielder Alex Destino had a game-winning RBI pinch-hit single in the bottom of the eighth inning in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Tennessee. With the base hit, Destino extended his hitting streak to 21 games. The hitting streak was snapped on Wednesday vs. North Carolina.
Destino leads the Gamecocks with a .356 batting average (42-for-118) with 21 runs scored and 27 RBI. He has a .397 on-base percentage and a .517 slugging percentage. His hitting streak was the longest streak by a Gamecock player since Jackie Bradley Jr. hit safely in 22 consecutive games in the 2010 regular season.
Destino’s top games this year included going 5-for-5 with four RBI in an 8-1 win vs. Clemson and 3-for-6 with a double, two homers, two runs and a career-high seven RBI in a 16-5 win over Penn State.
WEBB WORKS HIS MAGIC
Freshman right-hander Braden Webb earned the win in Saturday’s 7-4 win vs. Tennessee. Webb allowed four runs on seven hits in 7.1 innings with two walks and 10 strikeouts. Webb has reached double-digits in strikeouts in three consecutive SEC contests with 11 last week at Vanderbilt and 14 as well at Ole Miss on March 25. Webb is the only pitcher in the SEC to win all four of his starts to open league play.
For the season, Webb is 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA tied with teammate Clarke Schmidt for the league lead in victories. He has allowed 17 runs, 12 earned, on 27 hits in 49.2 innings. Webb has 63 strikeouts to 24 walks and teams are hitting .157 against him, second-best among SEC pitchers. Webb has 42 strikeouts in his four SEC starts in 29.2 innings pitched. SEC teams are hitting .162 against him.
Webb has been named SEC Freshman of the Week twice this year. Webb struck out 11 batters in eight scoreless innings and limited third ranked Vanderbilt to just two hits in a 4-0 win. Fresh off 14 strikeouts vs. Ole Miss, Webb was masterful not allowing a hit until a two-out double in the sixth inning and just two in the contest. Webb’s eight innings tied a season-high for innings pitched that he set at Ole Miss. Webb was also National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball for his performance at Ole Miss. In the Ole Miss game, after allowing three consecutive base runners to reach with one out in the first inning, Webb retired 17 in a row and 23 of 25 at one stretch to help lead the Gamecocks to victory. Webb’s 14 strikeouts were the most by a Gamecock since Billy Buckner struck out 16 on March 6, 2004 vs. Clemson and one short of the school’s freshman record of 15 set by Brian Williams on May 29, 1988 vs. Georgia Tech.
A Gamecock has earned a weekly honor from the SEC six times. John Jones was SEC Co-Player of the Week on February 29 and SEC Player of the Week on March 21, Clarke Schmidt earned SEC Pitcher of the Week on March 7 and Adam Hill was SEC Freshman of the Week on March 14.
REAGAN FROM THE LEFT
Junior left-hander Josh Reagan earned three saves this past week with one against Coastal Carolina and a pair against the Volunteers. Reagan pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts in the 4-2 win over Coastal. He added two scoreless innings in the 7-6 win over Tennessee and pitched out of a bases loaded, no outs jam vs. Tennessee in Sunday’s 4-3 victory.
Reagan is 1-0 with a SEC-best 10 saves and a 0.31 ERA in 18 relief appearances. He has allowed only one run this year on 13 hits with 25 strikeouts in 29.0 innings and opponents batting .134 against him.
Freshman infielder LT Tolbert hit a two-run homer and tied a career-high with three RBI In Friday’s 7-6 win over Tennessee. Tolbert drove in a team-high four runs over the weekend vs. the Volunteers. Tolbert is hitting .236 (29-for-123) with 19 RBI and 19 runs scored and a .312 on-base percentage.
HILL ON THE MOUND
Freshman right-hander Adam Hill was effective despite a no-decision in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Tennessee. Hill allowed three runs on five hits in 5.1 innings with a walk and a strikeout. He is 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA in eight starts. Hill has 47 strikeouts in 37.2 innings and opponents are hitting .214 against him.
Hill was named SEC Freshman of the Week after winning a pair of games the week of March 7-13 to improve to 4-0 on the year. In a predetermined split on March 8, Hill went three innings and allowed one run on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts in a 7-1 win over Wofford. He followed that up with 5.1 scoreless innings in March 13th’s 2-0 win over Charleston Southern. Hill allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out eight in the victory over CSU.
MOONEY IN THE MIDDLE
Senior infielder Marcus Mooney had a key two-run double in the 4-3 win over Tennessee on Sunday and was also 2-for-4 with a RBI single in Saturday’s 7-4 win. Mooney is hitting .306 (33-for-108) with 18 RBI and 20 runs scored. Mooney has a .397 on-base percentage and is fielding .955 with just six errors at shortstop. Mooney tied a career-high in hits in the middle of March going 4-for-5 in the 12-6 win over USC Upstate and 4-for-4 in a 10-6 win over Davidson.
Sophomore catcher John Jones doubled and scored a run in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Tennessee. Jones is hitting .331 (43-for-130) with 30 runs scored and 34 RBI. He has a .447 on-base percentage. Jones’ 34 RBI is tied for eighth-best in the SEC. His six homers on the year is tied for seventh-best in the league. He has 43 hits, which ties him with teammate Dom Thompson-Williams for 15th best in the SEC.
Jones was named SEC Player of the Week on March 21 after hitting .500 (7-for-14) in the Arkansas series with a pair of game-winning home runs as well as eight runs batted in. Jones opened the series going 3-for-5 with a pair of run scored and a RBI in the 10-6 win. He followed that up with a two-run homer to break a 2-2 tied in the 6-2 win over Arkansas on Saturday. Jones capped the weekend off going 3-for-5 with a double and a game-winning three-rum homer in the bottom of the eighth inning that lifted Carolina to an 8-6 victory vs. the Razorbacks. Jones’ five RBIs in Sunday’s contest was a career-high as well.
That was Jones’ second conference award of the year as he was also Co-Player of the Week on February 29 after the Penn State series. 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.
Junior outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams had reached base in 26 consecutive games to open the season before the streak snapped on March 31 at Vanderbilt.
Thompson-Williams stole second base and scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning in the 4-3 win over Tennessee. He was also 2-for-3 with a team-leading eight double and a run scored in Saturday’s 7-4 win. He was 2-for-4 with a RBI double in the 4-2 win over Coastal Carolina.
Thompson-Williams is hitting .344 (43-for-125) with 28 RBI and 32 runs scored and a .447 on-base percentage. He ranks tied for ninth in the SEC with 32 runs scored and tied for 15th with 43 hits on the year.
CULLEN CATCHING ON
Freshman catcher Chris Cullen went 1-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI in the 7-4 win over Tennessee. Cullen is hitting .271 (23-for-85) with 10 runs scored and 18 RBI in 26 games played with 22 starts behind the plate. Cullen has driven in 10 of his 18 runs with two outs.
JOHNSON BRINGS THE HEAT
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Johnson has shown an electric arm this year out of the bullpen. Johnson has struck out 25 batters in 22.2 innings in 14 relief appearances and owns a pair of saves. Opponents are hitting .235 against him.
Sophomore infielder Madison Stokes made his first start of the season in a 4-2 win over Coastal Carolina and has started in four of the last five games. Stokes is hitting .267 (4-for-15) in his first five games played this year after recovering from a Jones fracture in his foot.
Junior right-hander Reed Scott pitched 1.2 scoreless innings of relief for his first save of the year in the 7-4 win over Tennessee and followed that up with 1.1 scoreless vs. North Carolina. Scott has a 3.27 ERA in 15 relief appearances and has allowed just eight runs on 23 hits in 22.0 innings pitched.
Senior infielder DC Arendas was one of the Gamecocks’ top hitter in the Vanderbilt series batting .400 (4-for-10) with four runs scored, a homer and two RBI. He followed that up with a 2-for-3 day at the plate vs. Coastal Carolina.
Arendas is hitting .239 (21-for-88) with a .346 on-base percentage. Arendas has been stellar defensively as well fielding .991 for the season with just one error in 108 chances with 39 putouts and 68 assists. That error came at shortstop as well, not at his primary position of second base.
Freshman outfielder TJ Hopkins was 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored in the 7-4 win over Tennessee and had a key two-run double in the 7-6 win the night before vs. the Volunteers. Hopkins is hitting .305 (18-for-59) with 12 runs scored and 14 RBI and a .386 on-base percentage in 22 games played with 17 starts. 12 of his 14 RBI have come with two outs.
Hopkins’ diving catch in right-center in the 10-6 loss at Vanderbilt was the No. 6 Play of the Day on ESPN”s SportsCenter. Hopkins went 2-for-4 in a 4-0 win at Ole Miss and made eight putouts in the outfield, one short of single-game school record by an outfielder. He tied a single-game school record with two outfield assists on Opening Day. vs. Albany.
Junior right-hander Taylor Widener won his first game of the season in a 4-2 win over Coastal Carolina. Widener allowed two runs on two hits in five-plus innings with a walk and five strikeouts. Widener has struck out 25 batters in 25.0 innings with opponents hitting .221 against him.
South Carolina has outscored its opponents this year 224-118 including 58-22 in the first two innings of play. The Gamecocks are 22-1 on the year when scoring first and 14-1 when scoring in the first inning. South Carolina is 21-0 when out-hitting its opponent and 16-1 when hitting at least one home run. The Gamecocks are 26-0 when leading after the sixth inning. South Carolina is 10-3 in games decided by three runs or less. Carolina has reached double-digits in hits in 15 games this year with a 15-0 record with 10 hits or more.
South Carolina is second in the SEC with a 2.97 team ERA. Opponents are batting .217. The Gamecocks have allowed 118 runs, 101 earned, on 246 hits in 306.0 innings. The Gamecocks have compiled 331 strikeouts to 115 walks. The Gamecocks average 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, sixth-best in the nation also.
AT THE PLATE & ON THE FIELD
South Carolina is hitting .297 (347-for-1170) as a team with a .387 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage. The Gamecocks have hit 23 homers. Carolina is fielding .979 as a team with just 26 errors on the year.
Georgia is 18-14 and 4-8 in the SEC heading into this weekend’s series. The Bulldogs are led by junior right-hander Robert Tyler, one of the best prospects in the country for the 2016 MLB Draft. Tyler is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA and has 57 strikeouts in 45.1 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .155 against him. Junior outfielder Skyler Weber is the top hitter for the Bulldogs. He is hitting .318 (47-for-148) with 19 runs scored and 19 RBI. Sophomore outfielder Keegan McGovern is Georgia’s top power hitter with five homers and 25 RBI to go along with seven doubles and a team-high 29 walks. Junior left-hander Connor Jones will start on Saturday. He is 4-2 with a 5.73 ERA, opponents are batting .229 against him.