Righty vs. Lefty
South Carolina’s top three hitters are left-handed, which may be good news for the Gamecocks this weekend. All three of Oklahoma State’s starting pitchers are righties, and closer Tyler Buffett is a righty as well. Opponents have attacked USC with lefties for much of the year, but Carolina should see a lot of right-handed arms this weekend.
Can the crowd be a factor?
Oklahoma State players and coach Josh Holliday said repeatedly during Friday’s press conference that the Cowboys would not be bothered by the environment of Founders Park, but UNCW players said the same thing last weekend, and the Seahawks committed three errors and walked in a run in a 10-5 loss to the Gamecocks on Tuesday.
Fatigue an issue?
Several South Carolina players said they were simply running off adrenaline during USC’s run out of the loser’s bracket in the Columbia Regional as the Gamecocks played five games in five days. It will be interesting to see if Carolina shows any signs of fatigue on Saturday. OSU has been off since Sunday night after sweeping the Clemson Regional and should be rested for this weekend’s matchup.
How will Tyler Johnson be used?
The Gamecocks’ closer for much of the season came in and threw nine innings while allowing only one run in an elimination game against UCNW over the weekend. The sophomore could go back to being used out of the bullpen but could also start Game 2 or Game 3 depending on how the weekend plays out.
DC Arendas and LT Tolbert both swung the bat well in the Columbia Regional, but only one will be able to start at second base on Saturday. Chad Holbrook went with Arendas and his senior experience in Tuesday’s do-or-die game, but Tolbert could sneak into the lineup as well as he has looked like a different hitter since moving from playing first base to the middle of the infield. Holbrook also has a decision to make a catcher between Chris Cullen, who started most of the year, and Hunter Taylor, who came up with a couple of big hits to help USC get to this point. John Jones, who was benched last weekend, could get a start at some point as well after delivering a big two-run pinch-hit double off the wall to help Carolina win the Columbia Regional.