This past weekend the South Carolina Gamecocks (31-8, 14-4 SEC) traveled to aptly named Starkville to battle the Mississippi State Bulldogs (24-16, 7-11 SEC). Carolina prevailed in the series 2-1, but not before seeing two of its players placed on the disabled list. Evan Marzilli, who was left out of the lineup after going 2-4 on Friday and 1-3 on Saturday, is reported as being doubtful for the Auburn series due to an unspecified injury. The University sited HIPAA in not revealing Marzilli's medical condition, but we do know that he will see a specialist on Tuesday - not a good sign. University officials did reveal, though, that Marzilli is not expected to deal with any long-term effects from the condition. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was the other casualty of the weekend. Bradley apparently injured his wrist diving for a fly ball in Saturday's game. He is expected to be out at least three weeks, which would put him back in action possibly for the Alabama series right before the SEC Tournament. Now that Bradley and Marzilli are joining Adam Matthews on the DL, fully 100% of the Gamecocks' starting outfield at the beginning of the season is out of commission at the moment.
In Bradley, Marzilli, and Matthews, Carolina loses BAs of .259, .257, and .279, respectively. Those aren't exactly gaudy numbers, especially when one considers that the aforementioned group includes two members of the 2011 CWS All-Tournament Team. Not to say that they won't be missed, but at least right now USC has found players that can be just as productive. Thankfully, Ray Tanner's squad seems to have depth to spare. Across the outfield from left to right, the Gamecocks started Steven Neff, DeSean Anderson, and Jake Williams on Sunday. These three players are hitting .083, .500, and .305, respectively. Neff's average is a little disconcerting, but hopefully he'll come around in the coming weeks. On the other hand, DeSean Anderson has kicked off his career at USC in style and might even stay in the lineup once JBJ comes back.
USC collected 39 hits on the weekend against an MSU pitching staff that holds a 4.09 ERA (7th in the SEC). The 'Cocks were out-hit on Saturday 7-8, which contributed to their only loss of the weekend. The pitching staff allowed 5 runs in that game, but only three of which were earned thanks to two Gamecock errors. For some reason Carolina has struggled this year with Saturday games - dropping 4 this season already without managing to lose a series. Colby Holmes, the Saturday starter since Neff's injury, has performed admirably. The sophomore is 3-1 with 4.12 ERA. Not elite, but not terrible. For whatever reason the Gamecocks can't seem to muster enough runs or play error-free defense on Saturdays.
Oh, and remember those 39 hits Carolina had over the weekend? Christian Walker had 10 of them. In fact, in 11 at-bats, Walker reached base 14 times and struck out only once. He also recorded 27 putouts - an entire game's worth - over the weekend en route to earning player of the week honors. He is third in the SEC in batting average (.371). After dropping a game to MSU, the Gamecocks are now tied once again with Vanderbilt and Florida for the lead in the SEC, but hold the tie-breaker with each. Michael Roth (9-1) continues to dominate the SEC even without his best stuff. Roth and John Taylor lead the SEC in ERA with 1.26 and 0.89 statistics, respectively. Taylor also leads the league in opposing batting average (.157) with Roth coming in at #5 (.204). Forrest Koumas follows shortly thereafter in 6th (.207). In 40.2 innings of work, Taylor has allowed only 5 runs, 4 of which were earned. By the way, Christian Walker and Scott Wingo are also 1-2 in the SEC in fielding double play (40 and 33, respectively).
This week Carolina will play host to Liberty on Tuesday before the Auburn Tigers come to town. The Liberty match was a late addition to the schedule and allows USC to face off against a former assistant for the second week in a row. In honor of Liberty head coach Jim Toman, USC will be having dollar hot dog night (Somebody get that man a double!). South Carolina leads the all-time series 5-2. The two teams last met in 2007.