The Yardcocks kicked off the 2010 season on Friday in front of a crowd of 6,380 at Carolina Stadium. Carolina rode a two homerun performance from 1b Jefferey Jones to a 10-3 win over Duquesne (pronounced due-cane). Jones, you'll remember, was slated to be the starting first baseman last year until his and Nick Ebert's batting averages started heading in opposite directions. Jones' hard work in the off season seems to have paid off as he collected 5 R(s)BI on the night. More after the jump.
Firstbaseman. Redhead. Hero.
Duquesne, you'll also remember, is the team that South Carolina has pummeled many a time in the past. In fact, the Gamecocks now own a 20-0 all time record against the Dukes. Whether this has something to do with the Duquesne athletic department announcing the cancelation of the baseball program after 2010, I can't say.
Duquesne isn't the only common thread between 2010 and previous seasons, though. You might recall Scott Wingo's propensity for being hit by pitches. Well I had to laugh when I turned on the game on my way home from work today and literally the first thing I heard was Wingo getting hit by his second pitch of the afternoon. Wingo had an all around solid game today, getting on base after all five plate appearances.
We also saw a strong pitching performance by senior right-hander Blake Cooper. We'll need his steady arm if the Gamecocks are going to make any noise in the post-season at all this year. Relief pitching, on the other hand, was only adequate. Next week's match-up against a ranked East Carolina squad will tell us a lot more about the one component of Ray Tanner's squads that have always seemd to disappoint.
You can't take much away from a season opener, especially when it's against a team that has never given us an ounce of trouble in the past. Still, by all accounts this year's squad looks to be on par with the previous years'. I fully expect us to make the NCAA tournament again, and once you get there anything can happen. The key to getting back to the CWS will be our oft neglected bullpen. If Carolina can find a closer this year, look out. Getting Jackie Bradley Junior and Nick Ebert back shouldn't hurt, either.
Carolina plays Saturday at 3:00 and again on Sunday at 1:30.