The Gamecocks take the week off for final exams before playing host to Alabama, Chris Smelley, and that ridiculous mustache.
As many of you predicted, the Gamecocks swept UGA in last weekend's series. I rolled into town too late on Friday to catch that night's game, but I did manage to take in most of game 2 and all of game 3 on Sunday. On Friday the 'Cocks turned in their usual strong performance behind ace Blake Cooper. Cooper went 8 innings while striking out 9 en route to an 11-4 victory.
The Saturday contest was postponed in favor of a Sunday double-header due to inclement weather. The double header was of the softball variety - meaning both games were just seven innings. Sam Dyson returned to form in what was possibly his best outing of the year. He pitched a complete game and led USC to a 5-0 victory. Dyson allowed just 3 hits with no walks and 5 strike outs while lowering his season ERA to 4.35. For his efforts Dyson received SEC pitcher of the week honors.
More analysis after the jump:
Senior Jay Brown lead off the second match of Sunday before giving way to Matt Price after just 2 innings. Price fared no better against a Dawgs squad that wasn't quite ready to give up. After just 3 innings freshman Ethan Carter came on to close out the last two frames. Carter had no trouble dispatching the UGA hitters in the 6th, as he sent them down in order. In the 7th, however, Carter showed a flair for the dramatic. He allowed two quick base runners to begin the inning before recording an out from a sac bunt that advanced both runners. Tanner took the prudent move and intentionally walked to next batter. Since the score was 8-7 and a single would have ended the game (remember this one was only to last 7 innings) the smart move was to play the odds and bank on a double play. As it turns out, the double play wasn't needed. Bulldog batter Brett DeLoach struck out swinging after Carter got an early 0-2 count on him. One batter later Carter induced an infield fly to end the threat and secure the sweep.
Of course the Sunday contest was a little closer than any of us would have liked. Then again, you have to remember that no sweep in the SEC is going to be a cake walk - even against a team struggling as much as Georgia. The main takeaway is that we did, in fact, get the sweep. Carolina is now ranked as high as 3rd (Collegiate Baseball) and as low as 13th (NCBWA). The Gamecocks also took sole position of 1st place in the SEC. They now have a one game lead over Arkansas in the West and a two game lead over Florida in the East.
I feel, though, that I should point out that the Sunday game didn't have to be that close. In the sixth inning, after Jeffery Jones walked to lead off, Tanner inexplicably put the bunt on for Morales. Morales failed to execute properly and popped up for the first out of the inning. Ah, and by the way, Mathews (who pinch ran for Jones) was able to steal second earlier in Morales' at-bat. Why Tanner chose to leave the bunt on is beyond me, especially when your hitters had been shelling UGA up till that point. At the risk of sounding redundant, I'll sat it again: bunting is dumb. The Gamecocks then went on to load the bases after UGA walked a batter and then hit another. The second out of the inning was recorded on one of the flukiest plays I've ever seen. Pitcher Alex McRee sent a wild pitch sailing 3 feet over the catcher's reach. Seeing this, Mathews broke for home from third. Much to the Gamecocks' dismay, however, the pitch carommed off the backstop right back to the catcher. The catcher applied the tag for an easy out. The final out of the inning came after Scott Wingo struck out swinging. I don't know about you, but I would have liked to have had that 3rd out back given that the bases were loaded. Do we know that Adrian Morales would have gotten a hit if given the opportunity to swing? No. But I sure like his chances at swinging the bat more than the mercurial nature of bunting.
Anywho, it is onward and upward for the Gamecocks. After a week off for finals, USC plays host to Alabama and Chris Smelley. More on that later in the week once I dispatch a few finals of my own. Please share you thoughts on the Gamecocks' rankings, our upcoming match-ups, and Ray Tanner's love of all things "bunt." I'm interested in gaining some outside perspective on the issues. The poll this week is just for fun.