The South Carolina baseball wrapped up its worst season in the past two decades Tuesday night.
The Gamecocks lost to LSU, 8-6, in the elimination round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. USC won’t make the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years and finished at 28-28, 8-22 in SEC play, its worst conference record by both number of losses and winning percentage since joining the SEC in 1992.
The season comes a year after USC was a win away from advancing to the College World Series. While many USC fans are disappointed in the season, former Gamecock players that had a hand in their success over the past decade aren’t ready bail on the program.
“It has been a tough year but it is baseball and it happens. I got complete confidence in coach Kingston and his staff,” former Gamecock Scott Wingo said Saturday. “The guy knows what to do and he is a winner. Somethings take time. Our championship teams (2010, 2011) didn’t even make super regionals in 2008 and 2009 and we had some really good teams.
“If you are going to do something great, it is going to take time. We definitely will bounce back and I got complete confidence in coach Kingston.”
Wingo was part of back-to-back national championships at USC in 2010-2011 and was the Most Outstanding Player in the 2011 College World Series.
Wingo, a volunteer assistant at Jacksonville in 2018, is back living in the Midlands and took part in SC Legends baseball camp Saturday at Heathwood Hall along with other past USC greats including Michael Roth, Joey Pankake, Trey Dyson, Matt Price and Brian Buscher.
Roth and Pankake are in their first year out of professional baseball and are back living in South Carolina.
Roth is working in commercial real estate for NAI Earle Furman in Greenville but was color analyst for five Gamecocks games on SEC Network Plus this season. The former Los Angeles Angels and Texas Ranger pitcher pointed out to the losses to USC pitching staff as tough to overcome this season.
The Gamecocks closed the year with 11 pitchers having collegiate experience at their disposal.
“It has been a tough year for them and for Gamecock fans. Watching baseball. There have been some close games and blowouts,” Roth said. “They returned into this year returning just 20 percent of their innings and that is a big portion of innings to cover with those that don’t have experience. You got to deal with it and go from there.”
Pankake was an assistant with Buscher at Heathwood Hall this year and is coaching travel ball while finishing up classes at USC. The former Detroit Tigers minor leaguer said it is too early to push the panic button on the program.
South Carolina has a talented recruiting class coming in next season and is ranked in top 35 in country by Perfect Game.
“It hasn’t been one of the better years but I think they got a good staff and good core of players and can bounce back,” Pankake said. “I have went to a few games and they still have my support and they can learn from this season and bounce back next year.”