In a game in which many thought would be a fierce struggle, Carolina found a way to make it look easy (after 5 innings of course), turning what I thought might be a loss into a tune-up game for the Clemson series this weekend.
After a couple appearances Steven Neff looked erattic on the mound. I began wondering how he fought for a spot as Sunday starter up to the end, and figured I found out why he lost it with those performances. But all returned back to the norm with Neff against Furman (a pretty good hitting team). He was again blazing 90's past batters for strike after strike, and making it look fairly routine. No doubt a comforting sight for Gamecock eyes around the country, since it is now believed he will be expected to start the midweek games and maybe even the occasional relief appearance. If he continues throwing like he did Tuesday, I am comfortable with him trotting out to the mound again. His stat line, a modest 4 innings of work with 2 hits a doughnut on the scoreboard and 1 walk to 7 strikeouts (a career high) while also hitting a batter. Those stats do not do justice for how well he actually threw, especially in comparison to what he looked like his first 2 appearances on the season. I give applause to Neff for staying mentally tough.
The other major storyline from this game... Christian Walker stays ridiculously hot, and seems to be making himself the spark to the USC offense. After the team struggled to settle down in the sub 40 degree temperatures, Walker blasted a 2 run shot to left field, which seemingly caught the team's bats on fire, inducing 6 walks and tagging 5 hits in an inning that yielded 9 runs. Walker is now batting .538 on the season (a full tenth of a point higher than 2nd best on the team) with 2 long balls and team leading 12 RBI through 7 games.
But to not have a love fest with Walker, I must give some props to the team as a whole, who has a .335 team batting average and have managed to draw 30 Base on Balls to 33 Strikeouts, a pretty good ratio for so early in the season. The team is also averaging only 8 runners left on base per game, which has dropped 2 full runners in just 4 games.