South Carolina does not get much time to flush its disappointing 13-inning loss to College of Charleston Tuesday night out of its system before facing Vanderbilt in Nashville beginning Thursday.
But USC coach Chad Holbrook expects his club to be ready to go for the Top 5 showdown.
The fifth-ranked Gamecocks played one of their worst games of the season against Charleston, committing three errors and recording only four hits through eight innings.
USC has one travel day to Nashville in between the marathon game and the start of the series with against No. 3 Vandy. Still, Holbrook believes a different team will show up in the Music City.
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“I don’t think I have a group that’s complacent. I don’t think I have a group that was reading the press clippings and thinking that they were on a pretty good run and we could just show up and win. I don’t think that’s who my team is,” Holbrook said after Tuesday’s game. “For whatever reason we just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing.”
The loss snapped South Carolina’s 13-game winning streak and was the first home loss for USC.
One streak the Gamecocks still have going is a 6-0 record in the SEC. USC has a two-game lead in the conference.
The Commodores are 21-4 (4-2) and widely considered to be one of the most talented teams in the country.
“Baseball’s a game that you’re going to get knocked off your pedestal from time-to-time. You’ve got to have high character and bounce back and play better,” Holbrook said. “I’ve got a group that can play better. We might play a lot better this weekend, and you might not see it on the win-loss record, but that’s OK.”
In addition to losing Tuesday’s game, USC had to use several key relief pitchers down the stretch.
Reliever Tyler Johnson threw 22 pitches in 1 2/3 innings, while fellow reliever Brandon Murray threw 30 pitches in 2 2/3 innings. Closer Josh Reagan was the most used relief pitcher, firing 41 pitches in 3 innings.
Holbrook said he wanted to get his relievers work but said Reagan threw more pitches than he wanted him to. But he said everyone should be available late in the game Thursday if the Gamecocks have a lead.
Infielder Madison Stokes is expected to be available against the Commodores.
Stokes was set to bat in the middle of USC’s lineup on Opening Day before being sidelined by a foot injury this winter.
Holbrook considered starting Stokes Tuesday night but decided to bring him in off the bench. However, with the game playing out the way it did, Holbrook said he did not think it was fair for Stokes’ season debut to be made with the game on the line.
“I look forward to having a healthy Madison Stokes going for our team. I think he can make a big difference for us,” Holbrook said.