Neil White

In the know about Gamecocks baseball

Going Yard: Gamecocks must raise the level of their game

05/21/2013 12:23 PM

05/24/2013 9:53 PM

The South Carolina baseball team split its final four games over the regular season.

After beating Presbyterian in a mid-week game, the Gamecocks lost two-of-three against Mississippi State on the road.

Although they didn’t win the series, they did clinch the fourth spot in the overall conference standings and earn a bye out of the first-round single-elimination day of the SEC tournament. The Gamecocks (39-16, 17-12 SEC), who are ranked No. 17 in the latest Baseball America Top 25, will face the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Mississippi State and Missouri on Wednesday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

THUMBS UP

Tyler Webb

The senior left-hander made three relief appearances and posted saves in the 4-3 win over Presbyterian and Friday's 5-3 win over Mississippi State, although he took the loss with his only poor outing of the season in Thursday’s game against the Bulldogs. Webb claimed the program’s career record for appearances with 104, which surpassed the mark of 102 set by Matt Price (2009-12). Webb, who leads the SEC with 16 saves, has not allowed a run in 22 of 26 relief appearances. He’s 2-2 with a 1.27 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.

Grayson Greiner

The sophomore catcher belted the game-winning two-run homer in the 10th inning of the 5-3 win over Mississippi State. Greiner was the team’s top hitter in SEC games with a .310 average in 27 starts with three homers and 14 RBIs. On the season he is hitting .297 with four homers, 10 doubles and 34 RBIs.

THUMBS DOWN

The Gamecocks lost two of three to end the regular season against a good Mississippi State team, and that’s the type of competition they’re going to see from here on out in the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament. As they have in the previous three championship tournament runs, they must raise the level of their game to match the caliber of the teams they’re playing. They did it during the regular season against Clemson and LSU, but they failed to do so against Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Florida.

GOOD NEWS

Senior first baseman LB Dantzler bounced back from his dislocated shoulder to hit two homers in the series-ending 7-2 loss to Mississippi State. That upped his team-high numbers to .333 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs. He ranks tied for second in the SEC in homers (14), third in slugging percentage (.645), tied for fifth in walks (35), tied for sixth in RBIs (47), eighth in on-base percentage (.445), and tied for ninth in doubles (14). As the anchor in the lineup, Dantzler will need to keep producing in a big way if the team hopes to make a postseason run.

BAD NEWS

By falling just shy of a top eight national seed – unless they find a way to capture the SEC tourney – the Gamecocks will likely head on the road for a Super Regional if they advance out of their Columbia regional. That makes the trek to Omaha much tougher. USC won a road Super Regional at Coastal Carolina in 2010 on the way to a national title but lost at Stanford in 2001, at Georgia in 2006 and at North Carolina in 2007 in Super Regional play.

JUST THE FACTS

... USC made it to the SEC tournament for the 17th consecutive season, the longest current streak among the 14 SEC programs.

... The Gamecocks went 9-5 in the second half of the SEC season to finish 17-12 in the conference and grab second place in the Eastern Division. That’s the fifth straight season that USC has finished first or second in the division.

... With a 257-160 mark in SEC regular-season play since 2000, South Carolina has the most conference wins in that span.

UP NEXT

... SEC Tournament, Hoover, Ala., Wednesday through Sunday

About Neil White

Neil White is the South Carolina baseball beat writer for GoGamecocks.com. Follow Neil at @neilatthestate

 

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