Young pitchers impress in Sunday scrimmage
The Gamecock baseball team closed out the weekend with a third scrimmage Sunday afternoon. In a game littered with young talent, it was a ninth inning single by junior Matt Williams that was the difference in a 3-2 win for the Black team.
Freshman Rian Haire got off to a shaky start on the mound for the black team, allowing the first two runners to reach base. He got Carlos Cortes to ground out but sophomore Chris Cullen hit a sac fly and freshman Riley Hogan hit an RBI double to give the Garnet a 2-0 lead after one.
It didn't take long for the Black team to even the score, though, as they struck in the second inning. Junior Alex Destino opened the frame with a single off of sophomore starter Graham Lawson. Three batters later, junior Hunter Taylor singled to put runners on first and second. Williams then scored Destino with a double and freshman Christian Flint tied the game, plating Taylor on an infield single.
A slew of young pitchers shut down the offenses until the top of the ninth inning, when Williams plated freshman Joey Polak with a game-winning single off of junior Tyler Haswell. Haswell stayed on the mound and pitched the bottom of the frame for the Black team, recording a 1-2-3 inning to end the game. Thus, Haswell technically took home the loss and the save, were this scored like a real game.
The game wrapped up what was for the most part a solid weekend of play. Saturday's scrimmage was littered with defensive miscues, but overall head coach Chad Holbrook liked what he saw out of his team in the second weekend of scrimmages.
"Our pitchers threw the ball well over the weekend," Holbrook said. "All in all it was a good weekend for us. I think we're continuing to improve."
As the Gamecocks continue fall scrimmages, they'll hope to continue to improve.
Garnet: 1B, Riley Hogan; 2B, LT Tolbert; 3B, Jonah Bride; SS, Madison Stokes; LF, Carlos Cortes; CF, TJ Hopkins; RF, Jacob Olson; C, Chris Cullen; P, Graham Lawson
Black: 1B, Joey Polak; 2B, Christian Flint; 3B, Matt Williams; SS, Justin Row; LF, Alex Destino; CF, Danny Blair; RF, Chase DeMars; C, John Jones; P, Rian Haire
Graham Lawson: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), BB, 2 K
Wilson Beattie: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, K
TJ Shook: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Tyler Haswell (Black stats included): 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R (ER), 0 BB, K
Rian Haire: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 0 K
Harrison Smith: 3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, K
Hank Nichols: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
Top Offensive Performers:
Matt Williams: 2-for-4, double, 2 RBI; Christian Flint: 2-for-4, RBI; Jonah Bride: 2-for-4, double; Chris Cullen: 1-for-2, double, BB, RBI
— As with any intersquad game, it's hard to tell where the team is at this point, but the Gamecocks have to be happy with where their top pitchers are right now. Clarke Schmidt and Wil Crowe, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery, faced off yesterday, and while Schmidt was let down by some defensive miscues, both players pitched well. Holbrook even characterized Crowe as "dominant" and pointed out that his velocity and control are better than they were pre-surgery. Adam Hill also threw two scoreless innings on Friday. Cody Morris has also looked strong thus far.
— As the Gamecocks continue fall scrimmages, certain players will move around as the staff looks to try them at different positions. One such player is Carlos Cortes. I'll have more on this in a longer column later this week, but due to the abundance of talent behind the plate, the No. 1 catcher in the class of 2016 won't catch for the Gamecocks. He played a bit of left field and second base in high school, and Holbrook has started him in left a few times this fall, where he doesn't quite seem comfortable yet. He's one of the best pure hitters the Gamecocks have ever recruited, so he'll find a spot in the lineup, but even Holbrook admitted that he's not sure where Cortes' home will be in the field.
— Justin Row saw his first action of the fall, starting all three scrimmages at shortstop this weekend. Admittedly, I did not see him play Saturday, when Holbrook said he made some bad defensive plays, but he looked up to speed, despite missing time with an injury. He had some good at-bats, even if the box score won't show it.
— Holbrook was quick to point out TJ Hopkins as a guy that's looked good so far. He had multi-hit games Friday and Sunday and looked like a vacuum in center field. I think that he's one of the few guys at the moment that you can write down as a starter this season.
— Holbrook also praised freshman Christian Flint, who has quietly put together a nice fall. He wasn't the splashiest recruit, and he's a bit on the small side — okay, at 5-11, 160, he's a lot on the small side — but Holbrook likes his demeanor and knowledge of the game. Don't be surprised if he begins coming up more often as a freshman that could see significant playing time.