This week South Carolina pushed their record to 6-0 behind what has come to be the signature facet of Gamecock baseball - stellar pitching. The Gamecocks (6-0, 0-0 SEC) battled a tough Elon squad this weekend. The Elon Phoenix (4-3, 0-0 SoCon) are no slouches when it comes to stick ball. They were the Southern Conference regular season champions last year as well as in 2009, 2008, and 2006. Over the last 10 years the Phoenix have made it to the NCAA regionals five times. Basically, what I'm trying to tell you is that Elon ain't no Maine.
The Gamecocks began the series in traditional fashion - trotting out all-stud pitcher Michael Roth (1-0, 0.69) on Friday night. Roth did his part by keeping the Elon bats at bay. In 7 innings of work Roth did not allow a run, struck out 7, and walked 3. Nolan Belcher pitched a scoreless 8th inning in relief. Patrick Sullivan capped the evening by striking out 2 and and then giving up a home run to Garrett Koster... which ended the collective no-hit bid for the Gamecocks. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Well now you know how I felt while following the game on Twitter. I didn't know the team had a no-hitter until it was over. Stupid superstitions. Anywho, the USC batters did their part as well. Christian Walker, Grayson Greiner, and Joey Pankake tied to lead the team with two hits a piece. Walker had 5(!) RBI on the night, two of which came on a home run in 6th inning. All in all, the Gamecocks' effort delivered a 8-1 victory to begin the weekend.
Game two passed with little intrigue until the 9th inning. Matt Price (1-0, 1.80) took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Tyler Webb (1-0. 0.00) pitched four nearly perfect innings in relief. Webb, who struck out 7, walked none, and allowed no earned runs in 3.2 innings of work, showed signs that he has put last season's foibles behind him. If Colby Holmes or any of the mid-week starters falter, I would not be surprised to see Webb as a replacement. Forrest Koumas earned the save by recording the final out after surrendering a lone hit. The Gamecock offense was less potent Saturday. Tanner English was the only Gamecock to record multiple hits on the day. Christian Walker's performance was so-so. While he did have a hit which led to an RBI, he also struck out twice. Still, it was enough for the 'Cocks to card their fifth consecutive victory.
On Sunday USC held serve with a 6-0 win over the Phoenix. Colby Holmes (2-0, 0.00) pitched 5.2 innings of 3-hit baseball. He struck out 6 and walked three in the effort. Control was a problem for master Holmes in 2011, but so far this year he has pitched this side of wild. In 10.2 innings of work Holmes has hit 2 batters. USC jumped out to an early lead with 5 runs in the first two innings. Christian Walker added a hit, which now extends his hit streak 5. LB "Tiny" Dantzler led the team with 3 RBIs, and true freshman Tanner English added a hit and 2 RBI of his own.
South Carolina extended its all-time series record against Elon to 10-3. Both #1 Florida and #2 Stanford swept their weekend opponents (William & Mary and Texas, respectively), so I don't expect the Gamecocks to move up in the national poles. However, the 'Cocks will have the chance to improve their resume this week when they play weekend series with in-state rival Clemson after taking on Presbyterian in a mid-week match up. The Blue Hose are still winless in 2012 after being swept by UGA and Mercer each of the last two weekends. Whichever Gamecock gets the start against Presbyterian shouldn't have to be all that impressive to secure the victory. South Carolina leads the all-time series with Presbyterian 42-19. We'll see you Friday Gamecock Fans.