The defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team swept the Santa Clara Broncos last weekend in Columbia to kick off the 2011 season. Tomorrow, the Gamecocks (3-0), ranked #7 by Baseball America, face the Southern Illinois Salukis (2-2) in the first of a three game series between the two teams.
Carolina CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. is a likely first round pick in June's MLB draft and he showed why against Santa Clara, going 7 for 12 with three doubles and a home run in the sweep. Sophomore 1B Christian Walker also got off to a hot start. Walker was 6 for 12 with a homer and six RBI. In addition to Bradley, Jr. and Walker, Adrian Morales, Scott Wingo, and Adam Matthews all hit .400 or better versus the Broncos.
On the mound, the Gamecocks' starters performed admirably, and, in total, twelve pitchers saw the mound on opening weekend. The three wins were earned by Michael Roth, Tyler Webb, and Jose Mata, respectively. The staff posted a 1.67 ERA and had a K to BB ratio of 25:8. Welcome home, Coach Meyers.
Southern Illinois is coming off of a loss to UT-Martin on Tuesday. Prior to the loss, the Salukis posted wins over Grambling State and Nicholls State after dropping the season opener to Louisiana Tech. South Carolina and Southern Illinois have faced one another on the diamond twice before, with one of the meetings occurring in the 1977 College World Series. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 2-0.