Just like that, the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team is SEC East champions. Over the weekend against Alabama, we saw signs that this team might be special. Tyler Johnson continues to make a case for the closer role, John Jones is alive, and we're champions....so what does that mean?
Fuego: Tyler Johnson is turning into a special, special pitcher. Tyler was able to lock down 3 saves in as many days against the Alabama Crimson Tide. What's even more astounding about this is he seemed to have his best "stuff" Saturday afternoon as he slider was sharp and his fastball touched 96 MPH. The performance was also impressive because both offenses had dominated the day as he pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings. Johnson lowered his ERA to 2.95 over the last three games.
God's Gonna Cut You Down: If we are going to be playing our best baseball going into the postseason John Jones needs to keep working his way out of his slump. Friday night Jones finally broke through with an important two-run homerun and then drove in 4 RBI's, tying his season high, on Saturday afternoon. Our offense can be lethal, but it is exponentially better when John Jones is hitting the ball well.
Champions...So What Does it Mean?: Last year I wrote of the disappointment that was our 32-25 (13-17) finish. Gamecock baseball was better than that and the fanbase deserves better than that. I also wrote that hope was not lost for the program. Luckily for all of us, Coach Holbrook proved that there was still hope as he overhauled the roster. The arrivals of Braden Webb, Dom Thompson-Williams, John Jones, Chris Cullen and the rise of Clarke Schmidt, Josh Reagan, Gene Cone, and Tyler Johnson have been absolutely essential to turning our program around. To be clear, the job is not done. The goal around here is not to win the SEC East, but get to Omaha. But Chad Holbrook has shown us that he has what it takes to improve the team when drastic measures are needed.