For the second time in a month the Gamecocks won a three-game series against the best team in the nation. Four weeks ago the South Carolina Gamecocks (28-7, 12-3 SEC) defeated the Florida Gators 2 games to 1. This past weekend the Gamecocks took 2 of 3 from the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores (32-5, 11-4 SEC).
In game one Michael Roth (8-1, 1.24 ERA) out-dueled Vanderbilt ace Sonny Gray (7-2, 1.79 ERA). Roth went 7.2 innings while allowing 1 earned run on 3 hits and 2 walks. Roth struck out 8 en route to winning his third consecutive SEC Pitcher of the Week honor. Roth, for his part, was gracious when congratulated by teammate stating, "Thanks man. We prob should have shared it" via twitter. The Gamecocks batters did their part by collecting 11 hits on the night. Ultimately, USC prevailed 3-1.
The 'Cocks fared much worse in game two. USC starter Colby Holmes (3-1, 4.19 ERA) lasted just 4.1 innings and gave up 6 earned runs. As a squad the Gamecocks relinquished 10 hits - but only 3 after Holmes left the game. The real injury of the game was just that - an injury. Adam Mathews re-injured his hamstring legging out a bunt to first base. Mathews is expected to be out about a month and may be ready for the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks couldn't seem to get anything going on offense. USC left 3 runners on base in both the 7th and 9th innings. The Commodores would go on to win the game 6-4.
But USC rebounded to take the final game of the series 5-3. Forrest Koumas (4-0, 2.35 ERA) went 5.1 innings while giving up 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walk. The young Koumas continues to show promise but struggles with control at times. Matt Price came on to pitch the final 3 innings after Tyler Webb bridged the 6th. Price was masterful in his performance, striking out 7 of the batters he faced in 3 innings of work. Price lowered his season ERA to 2.36.
For their hard-fought victories the Gamecocks received a solid #2 ranking in the nation. It's hard to blame voters for putting a 34-3 Cavaliers team ahead of the Gamecocks, but, dang it., we've beaten two #1 teams already this year. It's largely an irrelevant issue, but it would be nice to see the Gamecocks ranked #1 again. I guess we'll just have to be satisfied with #2 while waiting for UVA to stumble.
The Gamecocks now rank 8th in the SEC in the batting average (.287), 3rd in SLG% (.442), and 5th in OB% (.385). The Carolina pitching staff still lags behind Vanderbilt's in ERA (2nd, 2.54) but tops the league in batting average against (.214). USC ranks 3rd in batters struck out (290), 1st in fielding percentage (.978), 12th in errors (29), 12th in stolen bases against (12), and 12th in caught stealing by (7). Michael Roth leads the league in ERA (1.24), wins (8), while Christian Walker leads the league in putouts (333).
This week the Gamecocks will travel to Patriot's Point for a mid-week game versus the College of Charleston on Tuesday. The Gamecocks took the first game from the Cougars this season 24-4. Monte Lee, a former USC assistant, is the head coach of the CofC. USC leads the all-time series 43-5.