I know I haven't done one of these in a few weeks. For that, I apologize. However, your favorite (I know, not really) Gamecock baseball breakdown is back! So let's talk some Gamecock baseball!
The South Carolina baseball team went 4-0 this week with 4, largely, dominant wins. After brushing off the Paladins of Furman, the Gamecocks returned to Founders Park and took on the Missouri Tigers. After a shaky start by Clarke Schmidt through the first 5 2/3s innings or so of the series, the Gamecocks owned the Tigers the rest of the weekend. The bullpen was outstanding, Alex Destino continues to drive in runs, Braden Webb outdueled the probable #1 draft pick and Gene Cone cemented himself in Gamecock baseball history.
The Bullpen Finally Showed Up: Down 4-1 in the 6th inning Friday night, Coach Holbrook pulled the usually reliable Clarke Schmidt from the game. Schmidt didn't pitched terribly, but he wasn't sharp and made a few mistakes. Missouri, with their own ace on the mound, took advantage of Clarke's bad night and raced out to a 4-1 lead. Reed Scott and Tyler Johnson combined to pitch 3.1 innings with only one run allowed, strike out 5 Tiger batters and only walked one. A bullpen that had been shaky the last few weeks (outside of Josh Reagan, who apparently isn't human) stabilized the Gamecocks in the 6th inning Friday night. The Gamecock offense fed off Reed and Tyler's energy and rallied past the Tigers to get a huge 8-5 victory to open the series.
Alex Destino Is an RBI Machine: Alex Destino went 6-13 over the course of the weekend, good for a .462 average, and drove in 6 RBI's. Alex is now batting .354 on the year and already has more total hits this year (51) than he did last season (42). He also upped his RBI total to 38, which also outpaces last season's total. The biggest stat on Destino's statline however is his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). Destino's BABIP from the 2015 season was a measly .298. His BABIP for 2016 is all the way up to .375. He has also reduced his strikeout to walk ratio from 4.56 to 2.22. So, in summary, Alex is making more contact this season and, when he makes contact, it is going for basehits more often. Which, you know, is good to see from a guy in his second year in college baseball.
Braden Webb Continues to Dazzle: Braden Webb outdueled projected top-5 draft pick Tanner Houck Saturday afternoon. Webb scattered 4 hits over 5.2 innings of work while striking out 10. Braden did walk six batters, but he managed to control the Missouri baserunners and continues to look like an ace on the mound. Webb improved to 8-2 on the year and dropped his ERA to 3.28. I also find it incredible that batters are only hitting .196 against him. That tells me that Webb has Major League "stuff" and, when he's on, he makes it very difficult for college hitters to make solid contact.
Gene Cone (Insert Fire Emoji): As we all know, Gene Cone broke the school's hitting streak record (video below). Gene has now hit safely in 27 consecutive games and has a crisp batting average of .377. The dude is simply on fire. Cone's secondary average (lengthy explanation of what that is here) is up to .336, which is improved from .285 in the 2015 season. Also, Gene got SEC Player of the Week. There's not much more I can say here other than Gene is on fire.
Bonus: Here is a fun clip of Gene's record breaking hit. Enjoy.
The Gamecocks have a top five matchup against the top ranked Florida Gators this weekend. There are no midweek games as final exams start Wednesday. Go Cocks!