Matt Connolly

Gamecocks offense finally proving Chad Holbrook right

Chad Holbrook continued to preach throughout the regular season that South Carolina had the potential to be a strong offensive team.

In the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks are finally proving him right as USC has relied on the long ball to win two games in Hoover for the first time since 2007.

Carolina has hit seven home runs in three tournament games, with Carlos Cortes hitting three, Jonah Bride hitting two and Justin Row and Alex Destino each hitting one. The Gamecocks had five homers combined in their previous eight SEC Tournaments.

“I’ve always felt we were a better offensive team than we showed all year. I know y’all got tired of hearing me saying that. I just felt that way,” Holbrook said. “I don’t think two games proves that we’re a good offensive team, but I was expecting to see some flashes of this throughout the season.”

Going back to the final game of the regular season, South Carolina has scored 29 runs in its past four games.

South Carolina scored 10 runs in a game once in its first 29 SEC games before doing so twice in the past four.

“I think we’ve been swinging the bat pretty well this whole tournament,” Destino said. “We heard coming in it’s a graveyard. Having that good first game with guys seeing the ball leave the park instilled confidence in them. … I attribute most of it to confidence. We’re swinging good bats right now.”

Even though USC’s bullpen blew some late leads throughout the year, overall the pitching has been strong.

South Carolina’s lack of offense was forcing USC’s pitchers to be perfect for much of the regular season, but that has not been the case at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, a place that does not have the reputation of being a hitters’ park.

“You’ve got to kill balls to hit them out, even though we’re hitting them out right now, which is a little bit beyond me,” Holbrook said. “I wish I’d have seen this a lot more often from the way that we’re swinging the bats. … It’s kind of refreshing when you get to the tournament. You wait around and keep playing until you get to the weekend, and anything can happen.”

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC