Baseball notebook: news, notes before hosting Winthrop
Fresh off a sweep of Dayton, South Carolina is ready for its first midweek game of the season.
The Gamecocks host Winthrop in their final tune up before the weekend series against Clemson, which starts Friday.
South Carolina's off to a good start this year, and will start freshman Will Sanders as they get into the groove of the season.
What to know, scouting Winthrop
Game time/how to watch: 4 p.m. on SEC Network Plus and 107.5 FM
Probable pitchers (South Carolina first): RHP Will Sanders (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Macklin Ohs (1-0, 2.25 ERA in 2020)
No. 16 South Carolina (3-0) hosts Winthrop (1-2) at 4 p.m. Winthrop lost its first two games of the year to App State but won Sunday's game 10-9. The Eagles are paced offensively by Joey Tepper, who is hitting .333/.556/.33 this season. Three players have multiple RBI and the Eagles only have two home runs in three games and are slugging .319 as a team.
Mark Kingston expressed faith in Brady Allen as the team’s leadoff hitter entering the season, and he showed why opening weekend.
Allen is slashing .556/.643/1.333 in three games and is tied for the team lead in runs scored.
“He’s doing what we thought he would do. He’s a real tough out but provides pop, which you don’t normally get out of the leadoff spot,” Kingston said. “He gives you a great at-bat every time. If you make a mistake he can do damage. If you don’t, he’s willing to take his walks and be a disciplined, professional hitter.”
Allen’s gotten on base nine times in 14 plate appearances and of his five hits three have gone for extra bases while also walking four times. Even when he’s struck out—which is twice this year—both have come on full counts.
“I’m feeling really comfortable. I’m just doing what I’ve done,” Allen said. “I’m working the at-bats with good plate discipline trying to put the ball in play.”
3. What they learned
It wasn’t a perfect weekend for South Carolina, but sweeping while outscoring an opponent 29-7 while hitting seven home runs seems like a pretty good start to the season.
“We’ve worked hard and the results showed this weekend we have the talent to be one of the top teams in the country this year,” George Callil said. “We have to continue to trust ourselves and take it one game at a time.”
South Carolina is hitting .356/.448/.703 to start the year and the pitching allowed six earned runs the entire weekend with 37 strikeouts and a .130 batting average against but defensively the Gamecocks committed four errors on the weekend.
“Obviously the goal was to have this type of weekend where you look up going into Monday and you’re 3-0. Check that box. We wanted to see some quality starting pitching and I think we saw that for the most part,” Kingston said. “There are a lot of things to build on; we’re not perfect yet.”
4. Offensive approach
A lot was made about the Gamecocks’ offensive approach this season and being better with two-outs and getting hits with runners on base. So far so good.
“What I was most pleased with was I would like to know how many of those were with two strikes. I thought our at-bats with two strikes were really good all night," Kingston said after game one. “That’s something we worked hard on with this group. They’ve really bought into it. That was something I was really happy to see.”
The Gamecocks have eight two-out RBI and hitting .357 with two outs. They’re also hitting .367 with runners on base and are 34-for-63 in advancement opportunities. It’s a small sample size, but it’s a good start for South Carolina’s offense.
“Having that approach of shooting it the other way, it’s made a huge difference. You can see it in the first game,” Andrew Eyster said. “We had a handful of two-strike hits. That says a lot about the kind of hitters we have and the maturity of the guys.”