Despite dropping a road SEC series against the Kentucky Wildcats, the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team remained in the top 25 and are currently number 4 in RPI. After taking the Friday night matchup by a score of 10-5, the Gamecocks were stifled Saturday night and then, despite a late rally, fell in extra innings in the rubber match. This week in our weekly observations, we take a look at Gene Cone (who is (still) good at baseball); John Jones, who is really struggling; stranded Gamecocks; and why we're going to be fine.
Gene Cone, Good at Baseball: Despite Gene's hitting streak coming to an end Saturday afternoon, he turned around and went 2-5 on Sunday and was a big key in the late rally to take the lead in the 8th. Gene Cone continues to be one of the brightest spots on a very good baseball team. The Gamecocks have benefited greatly from his presence in the leadoff spot in the lineup and will need him to continue his high level of play into the postseason.
Johnny's Gone Ghost: John Jones is really struggling. After coming into SEC with a batting average around .375 and .385, Jones has since his batting average steadily drop back towards the .300 range. Is Jones' performance simply regressing to the mean? Perhaps, as John was on an absolutely torrid pace through the first part of the season. It seems that, since the end of the Arkansas series, he is not seeing the ball as well. If we are going to be at our best, we can't afford to have John go 0-6 in a 3 game series against good competition.
Feeling Stranded: On Sunday afternoon, the Gamecocks scored 4 runs on 15 hits. They left 15 men on base and couldn't put the game away, early or late, despite having multiple chances to do so. After leaving six runners on base through the first three innings, the Wildcats struck first Sunday and got the early momentum. The Gamecocks managed to scratch their way into having a late lead before Reagan blew another lead. Then, in extra innings, the Gamecocks had multiple chances to put the game away but couldn't capitalize. With Texas A&M coming to town this weekend, we're going to need to do better if we are going to take the series from an elite Aggie squad.
Losing Sucks, but We'll Be Okay: Yes, losing to a team that we should be stinks. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty irritated with, not only the loss Sunday, but with the way we lost Sunday. After wasting plenty of opportunities, we lose on a walk-off homerun in Kentucky's bandbox of a baseball stadium. Despite this, I think we will be fine going forward. We have, seemingly, always struggled to play good baseball in Lexington. Also (while I think we are a superior team to Kentucky) the Wildcats were ranked early on in the year. So they are not a bad team, and probably will end up being a 2 or 3 seed in a regional. This team, so far this season, has done a very good job of rebounding after bad weeks/games. I expect them to come out Tuesday night and take care of Presbyterian and then take a huge home series against the Aggies this weekend. We're still a top 10 team, top 5 RPI team, projected national seed. We're going to be fine.
The Gamecocks will look to rebound against Presbyterian tonight at 7:00 on SEC Network+.