Weekend Wrap-Up: Gamecocks Drop Series to ECU

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The Gamecocks will face Presbyterian College on Wednesday because of poor weather. via pictopia.com




South Carolina dropped the  prophylactic match of the ECU series on Sunday by a 4-2 margine. Gamecocks starter, Steven Neff (1-1), allowed 3 quick runs in the bottom of the first inning to give the Purple Pirates all the runs they would need for the victory. Neff would settle down a little after the first, giving up only more run (unearned) in his 3.2 total innings of work. It is somewhat missleading to call that run "unearned," however, as the series of events that lead to it scoring can be placed squarley on Neff's shoulders and his alone. In sequence, Neff 1) walked the batter, 2) advanced the runner to 2nd on a balk, 3) allowed the runner to third by thorwing a pick-off attempt into center field, and 4) allowed the runner home after a wild pitch. You could say it was unearned in that the batter did no work to score, but it most certainly should be charged to Neff.  After Neff followed that by giving up a bunt single, Ray Tanner brought in Reliever Tyler Webb to finish out the game. Webb performed admirably, giving up 2 hits in 4.1 innings of work. The freshman certainly made a case to be next week's Sunday starter.

More after the jump.

Although Carolina added a run each in the 7th and 8th innings, the Gamecock bats never seemd to be in this one. Case in point, Carolina had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the 8th but were unable to to take advantage of the situation. Jackie Bradley, Jr. provided one of the few highlights on Sunday as he singled following a pinch hit appearance. Bradley, who was expected to be out with an injury for much longer, continues to show off skills that made him a Freshman A.ll-American last season. Kyle Enders had a pretty decent weekend as well, throwing out a steal attempt at second and raising his average to .450 on the season.

What to take from this weekend:

Losing a series to an obnoxious ECU team may feel like a swift kick to the nether regions, but I assure you, Gamecock fans, the sky is not falling. In fact, we actually out-scored ECU this weekend by a count of 11-10. ECU is, and has been for a while, a good baseball program that returned a lot of solid starters from last year's squad that beat the Gamecock is similar fashion. We took one from them in their backyard, and that's really all we needed to do at this point to stay on track for our goals.

Even Steven Neff's performance on Sunday wasn't all that bad, aside from the unholy, satan-spawned unearned run he promenaded around the bases, of course. Neff holds a 1-1 record on the season with 5.1 innings pitched. Not great, but not terrible by college standards. It's still very early in the season for Neff, and to be honest he was the victim of some bad luck Sunday afternoon. At least two of the base hits he allowed in the first inning were ground balls, and the hit that scored them was a blooper that landed in the shallow outfield. Baseball can be a funny game, and sometimes these kinds of things happen. It's a long season, and as I'll often remind you, even the best team in the MLB loses 1/3 of its games. It's not like he was getting shelled by ECU - it was more of the dink-and-dunk variety.

Carolina, on the whole, didn't suffer all that much from its 1-2 performance. Baseball America had this to say about dropping the Gamecocks to #15:

The Gamecocks won the opener against East Carolina before losing close games the next two days. South Carolina used a balanced 11-hit attack Friday in support of Sr. RHP Blake Cooper. Jr. RHP Sam Dyson (4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) was solid in a no-decision Saturday, but the Gamecocks blew a one-run lead in the ninth, allowing the Pirates to rally for two in the frame. South Carolina was held to six hits Sunday, though Fr. LHP Tyler Webb (4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K) was strong in relief of So. LHP Steven Neff (3.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER). Sr. 1B Nick Ebert, who missed last weekend with academic issues, doubled in his first at-bat and had four walks and three runs over the weekend.

The Gamecocks currently hold a staff ERA of 3.08 and a team AVG. of .285. Expect those numbers to swing in opposite direction as the Gamecocks' pitchers face better competition and the offense gets Jackie Bradley, Jr. back for good.

Perhaps the worst thing about the weekend, though is that the Gamecocks are temporarily the fourth best baseball team in the Carolinas, behind Coastal Carolina (#8), Clemson (#13), and East Carolina (#14), but ahead of UNC (#20). We'll have a chance to rectify the situation this weekend in our weekend series against Clemson. I'll have more on that (hopefully) later this week.

Looking ahead:

The Gamecocks need to do two things this week to maintain their status as a top 25 team: a) beat Presbyterian College in mid-week game and b) Take two of three from Clemson over the weekend. The Clemson series will be a 3 game one for the first time in recent memory, with a home-and-home and a nuetral site match at Greenville's Flour Field. Carolina has dominated the series with the Tigers as of late, and a win this weekend would be a boost to our season.

Mid-Week Game:

vs. Presbyterian College (1-6), Wed. 7:00pm, @ Carolina Stadium

  • Probable Starter - Nolan Belcher (So. LHP) 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 1 BB, 4 SO

Weekend Wrap-Up Coverage:

The State

Gamecocksonline.com

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