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What We Learned: USC vs LSU

After a cathartic win Thursday night over #1 LSU, South Carolina looked like it was going to play its way into the NCAA tournament. However, USC failed to capitalize on a prime opportunity. Over the weekend we were reminded that Kyle Martin is an elite player, LSU is really good at baseball, and this team is simply not built for postseason play (if we didn't know that already).

TheBigSpur

Farewell, KMart: Kyle Martin deserved better than this. A draft pick in the 2014 MLB draft, Martin instead chose to come back for his senior season to finish his degree, and perhaps get one more shot at Omaha. Obviously, it didn't quite work out like we all planned. This season has been a total disaster. It had to be hard on Martin to see the team plummet from a 17-3 start and a #3 national ranking to a 32-24 unranked finish. However, Martin didn't quit, he didn't pout. He continued to be a steady hand on this team. Martin finished the regular season as the team's Triple Crown leader with a .352 average, 14 homeruns (11 in conference play), a SEC leading 56 RBI, and was named today 1st Team All-SEC. He also got his 200th career hit Saturday night, becoming only the 28th player in USC baseball history to do so. It may have not worked out the way he wanted or expected, but I think I can say this with some certainty, all of Gamecock Nation thanks Kyle for his commitment and contributions to the baseball program.

LSU is really, really good: I am not saying this to try to make anybody feel better about this past weekend. Trust me, the only team I dislike more than LSU is Clemson, so this is hard for me to write. I don't have stats to back me up, other than LSU's regular season title, but from the eye test LSU is the best team in the conference and probably the country. I saw Vanderbilt (SEC regular season runner up) play at Carolina Stadium, and I saw LSU play at Carolina Stadium. LSU is the better team. Nearly everyone in their lineup can hit for power, everybody is a good, aggressive baserunner, their pitching staff is elite, and there are few baseballs that they cannot get to on defense. This past weekend was very disappointing, especially after the way Thursday night went. But there is absolutely no shame in losing to LSU. Do I think the Friday and Saturday games should have been more competitive? Yes, I do. Carolina had their chances to make these games interesting, but LSU did what great teams do. They made us pay for mistakes. LSU is the SEC regular season champ, and they absolutely deserved it.

Carolina likely won't go far in the postseason: Even if the lineup continues to hit at a decent rate, this pitching staff is simply not built to play postseason baseball. Due to Wil Crowe's Tommy John surgery, and the lack of a consistent third starter, Holbrook has had to rely on Wynkoop to eat innings at any cost, and pitching "Johnny WholeStaff" the rest of the weekend. Clarke Schmidt, Taylor Widener, and Josh Reagan have the talent to be starters in the SEC, but they simply haven't been consistent enough for me to believe they'll be good enough in tournament play. I have faith that we, with Wynkoop on the mound, can beat Missouri. And winning a game in Hoover is absolutely vital to our NCAA chances. But past that, we're going to need the next Michael Roth and Matt Price to show up to make any noise this week. And, sadly, I just don't see that happening.