Mark Kingston: ‘A lot of impact players coming in’ for USC
South Carolina baseball lost junior college commit Luis Aviles on Wednesday, but it didn’t take the Gamecocks long to replace him.
That very same day, graduate transfer Dallas Beaver, from UCF, announced his commitment to Carolina.
Beaver’s choice came after stopping to visit South Carolina on his way to the Cape Cod League, and he gives coach Mark Kingston yet another powerful bat, as well as some much needed defensive flexibility.
“Just basically, listen, we’re in need of a bat, and you kind of fill that void, as long as you come do what you’ve been able to do,” Beaver said of Kingston’s pitch to him. “And he thinks that I could be a vital piece of getting the program back to where it needs to be.”
At UCF, Beaver played catcher, first base and third base, starting 114 consecutive games for the Knights and hitting .300 with 18 home runs and 86 RBIs in that span.
At South Carolina, he’ll likely be tasked with spelling workhorse catcher Luke Berryhill, who caught nearly every game this past season for the Gamecocks — Aviles was expected to do that before flipping his commitment to Tulane amidst reports that he was dismissed from his summer league team.
Berryhill, who was selected in the 13th round of the MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, has until July 15 to sign a pro contract or return to school.
“(Kingston) liked the fact that I could play several different positions and wasn’t limited to just one,” Beaver said. “He said he expects Berryhill to be back, I don’t think they’re 100 percent positive on that yet, but maybe just take the load off him a little bit, and then play some first, third, whatever the team really needs. There really was no solidified defensive spot.”
But although his defensive position isn’t settled, improving across the board in the field is a major goal for Beaver this summer in the Cape Cod League.
“I want to get better at all three positions. It’s tough to get better at one position, let alone three. So just try to get a little bit better at those three,” Beaver said. “And then offensively, continue what I’ve been doing, try to get my strikeouts down a little bit, just keep putting up good offensive numbers.”
His first game was a success — 3-for-5 at the plate and a start at third base. And he’ll have plenty of time to get to know his future teammates in Massachusetts: Four other Gamecocks are playing there this summer, including Carmen Mlodzinski, Noah Campbell, Cam Tringali and Andrew Eyster.
“I’m trying to fit in with the culture they built up there, and the best way to do that is to go out and introduce yourself to these guys whenever you get the chance to,” Beaver said.
Culture and tradition are large reasons why Beaver felt comfortable committing to South Carolina. While teams’ on-field results this past season played a “little factor” in his decision-making process, the Gamecocks’ past results and future outlook were enough to sway him despite a historically poor 2019 season.
“I know the tradition of the school, I know they’re used to winning at South Carolina. Just the year before they were in the Super Regional, so you can look at it however you want to, injuries, whatever, but I think that with the pieces we have coming in that we’re gonna get that turned right back around,” Beaver said.