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February 22, 2014

Diamond Extra: Superb Seddon

Joel Seddon has a long ways to go before comparisons to some of the greatest closers in South Carolina history, including Matt Price and Tyler Webb in the past three years, are genuine.

However, early indications are Seddon is growing into the role and paving the way for a sensational season.

Seddon overpowered three Eastern Kentucky batters in the ninth inning, polishing off Saturday's 2-0 victory with two strikeouts and routine groundout for his first career save before a sellout crowd at Carolina Stadium.

In three appearances totaling three innings so far this season, opposing hitters are batting .000 against Seddon, a hard-throwing junior from St. Clair, MI that pitched just 18 innings a season ago.

Six of the nine outs recorded by Seddon have been strikeouts. Considering Seddon allowed 25 hits and 16 runs last season, he has clearly improved by leaps and bounds.

"He's had a bulldog mentality since he got that closer's role," Greiner said. "In the past, when he was out there he was just hoping to do well. This year, he knows he's going to mow them down. He just has that mentality and confidence now that he needs and it's showing."

Seddon has greatly improved his changeup pitch since the end of last season, so he is now able to keep hitters guessing about velocity and location.

"He has developed a much better changeup than he's had in the past," Greiner said. "He can use it against righties and lefties. That changeup and his mentality have been the biggest things for Joel."

THE STREAK GOES ON: USC pitchers extended their scoreless stretch to 42 straight innings dating back to the third inning of the second game of the Bucknell series last weekend. How dominant has USC's hurlers been through six games? Ten of the 12 Gamecock pitchers that have taken the mound so far this season have earned run averages of 0.00. USC has allowed six runs in 54 innings for a superb ERA of 1.00 heading into Sunday's series finale.

"We take pride in what we do on the mound and how we go about our business," Wynkoop said after throwing 7.1 scoreless innings on Sunday. "That's a pretty cool stat. Today, I tried to give them a steady mix of pitches and keep them off-balance. They're pretty aggressive. Not letting them get extended on fastball was key."

USC's secret is actually no secret at all - throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters, don't overthrow and let the Gamecock defense do the rest.

"That's the formula that seems to be working very well for us early in the season," Greiner said. "Our starters have all been efficient early in games, so they're getting deep into games. Then we have Cody (Mincey), who has been lights out in his couple of games, and Joel at the back end of the bullpen. We can't really ask for much more than that. If those guys continue to throw well, we'll be very pleased."

Saturday, relievers Cody Mincey, Vince Fiori and Seddon needed just 14 pitches (11 strikes) to get the final five outs of the game.


-- Grayson Greiner on Wynkoop's performance: "He threw really well. He kept everything down in the zone and kept their hitters off-balance. They are a very good hitting team. Similar to Jordan (Montgomery) yesterday, he made his best pitches in the most pressure-packed situations with men on third base, men on second base."

-- Through six games, USC has outscored opponents, 51-6, and outhit them, 61-33. Two Gamecocks have scored 10 runs - Joey Pankake and Max Schrock.

-- For the second straight game, Chad Holbrook trotted out a batting order featuring Max Schrock and Tanner English at the top of the order and Marcus Mooney in the No. 9 spot. Mooney was credited with only one at-bat on Saturday because he was hit by a pitch and dropped down a nice sacrifice bunt on his first two trips to the plate.

-- Two errors on Saturday dropped USC's team fielding percentage to .986. Shortstop Marcus Mooney committed the first error by a Gamecock infielder this season when he let a grounder slip underneath his glove. USC has committed three errors in 216 chances in six games.

-- Weber Pike stroked his first career hit with a sixth-inning, pinch-hit single. The No. 8 spot in the batting order was 3-for-4 with two hits by DH Brison Celek and Pike's PH single.

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