Matt Connolly

Bowers, Parke have been a pleasant surprise for USC’s bullpen

Senior Colie Bowers leads South Carolina in ERA at 0.54.
Senior Colie Bowers leads South Carolina in ERA at 0.54.

Clarke Schmidt, Wil Crowe, Adam Hill, Tyler Johnson, Josh Reagan and Reed Scott were pitchers mentioned in the preseason who would make South Carolina’s rotation perhaps the best in the country.

John Parke and Colie Bowers were not.

While the first group of pitchers have been exceptional and are a big reason why the Gamecocks are ranked in the top 10 and tied atop the SEC standings, Parke and Bowers have been pleasant surprises for a pitching staff that has suffered its share of injuries.

With closer Tyler Johnson out for the first few weekends of SEC play, Bowers has turned into one of the most reliable options out of the bullpen.

The Lexington native made only seven appearances last season as a junior but has 11 already in 2017 and has a 0.54 ERA.

Bowers is 2-0 and is second in the team in saves with three while striking out 18 in 16 2/3 innings. He leads the team in opponent’s batting average at .138.

“We’re having to put some guys in some positions that they haven’t been in with games on the line and conference games on the line and I’m extremely proud of Parke and Colie Bowers,” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said.

After surrendering four runs in less than an inning in his first outing, Parke has given up only one run in the past 6 2/3 innings .

He has picked up a win and a save. His victory came in USC’s series-clinching win over Alabama Sunday afternoon.

Parke threw two scoreless innings without allowing a hit.

“He’s won some games for us in some big spots. I’m proud of him,” Holbrook said. “He’s got some confidence and he’s having some success. He’s been through a lot here.”

Parke’s emergence gives the Gamecocks another lefty to turn to out of the bullpen, which could be big as the season progresses.

Reagan was the only lefty on the roster who had thrown at least an inning in SEC play in his career entering the season.