South Carolina infielder DC Arendas picked a good time to find his offensive stroke.
The senior, who entered the NCAA tournament hitting .206, hit .500 with a pair of homers and four extra-base hits in the Columbia Regional and has a new-found approach entering this weekend’s super regional matchup with Oklahoma State.
Throughout most of the season Arendas was being patient at the plate, but entering the postseason he decided to become more aggressive and the move has paid off.
“It’s difficult to hit with two strikes. Coach told me something about in the history of the game hitting with two strikes your career average is like .180,” Arendas said. “The numbers are against you if you hit with two strikes. I was just trying to get a pitch to hit early in the count.”
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In South Carolina’s 23-2 win over Rhode Island Sunday afternoon, Arendas went 4-for-4 and was a double shy of the cycle.
In each of the at bats he was either ahead in the count or even with the pitcher when he got a hit.
“He works hard, and it was great to see him drive some balls. I think he just turned on the aggressive switch, which he didn’t know where that was for the last couple of months,” Holbrook said. “All of a sudden he got the bat off his shoulders and stopped hitting in 1-2 and 0-2 counts all the time. It’s hard to hit with two strikes, and I think he finally said in his mind, enough’s enough.”
Arendas was on the bench to start Sunday’s game against Rhode Island but was inserted into the lineup at third base after Jonah Bride was ejected for not sliding on a play at the plate.
Bride was also suspended for Sunday night’s game against UNCW, and Arendas went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the 10-1 victory.
“He’s a great guy. I love him to death. All year he knows he can do much more than he showed he can,” Bride said. “I gave him a big hug when he came into the locker room and congratulated him. I couldn’t be more happy for what he did.”
While Arendas has just recently found his offensive groove, his defense has kept him in the lineup for most of the year.
The Greensboro, N.C., native has started 40 of USC’s 62 games and has played in all but four while spending time at second base, shortstop and third.
“My nickname for DC is D Smooth. He’s definitely one of the smoothest infielders I’ve ever seen and he just handles himself so well on the baseball field. It’s fun to watch,” USC slugger Alex Destino said. “It’s been great for us to see for him. We know that he’s been getting bashed and rattled pretty good by fans this year and people talking down.”
Arendas has tuned all of the outside noise out and tried to be a productive teammate anyway possible, whether it’s defensively, in the dugout or more recently at the plate.
“I just wanted to contribute whether I was in the lineup or not. That’s really been the team motto for all of us, just try to do everything that you can,” he said. “The results you really can’t focus on. It’s a difficult game. I just wanted to lay everything out there and try to help us win anyway I could.”
USC Super Regional
What: Best 2-of-3 series with winner advancing to CWS.
Who: Oklahoma State (39-20) vs. USC (46-16)
Game1: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Where: Founders Park