It’s time again for the most terrifying part of any South Carolina baseball fan’s year: SEC Tournament week. It’s a fantastic week as a college baseball fan in general and as an SEC baseball fan in particular, but it’s often miserable for South Carolina. The Gamecocks have, somewhat inexplicably, been so bad in Hoover that it’s almost funny (or, if it’s not actually funny, at least laughing about it helps). The struggles could be chalked up to general bad luck and bad breaks or possibly to an actual curse of some sort.
More likely, what began as some bad luck in Hoover snowballed into something that’s gotten in the heads of the coaches and players in recent seasons. The knowledge that the Gamecocks haven’t won a game in the SEC Tournament since 2012 feels like it hangs more heavily over the team each season. The Gamecocks are 0-7 in Hoover in the seasons since that 2012 win, meaning they are winless in Hoover under Chad Holbrook. But the Gamecocks have to eventually snap that losing streak and this season would be the ideal time for it.
Game 1: South Carolina vs Vanderbilt
The Gamecocks are the 11th seed in the tournament and finished the regular season 32-23 (13-17 SEC) and the Commodores are the 6th seed and finished the regular season 33-21-1 (15-13-1 SEC). The Gamecocks went 1-2 against Vandy in early April during the regular season series. While Carolina continued to trend downwards after that series, the Commodores had a decent second half of conference play, winning four of their last five SEC series.
Holbrook mentioned senior RHP Reed Scott (3.67, 43 SO, 17 BB) as the likely starter Tuesday morning. Scott has made a couple of SEC starts since the Gamecocks lost Clarke Schmidt to an injury and is available because he only pitched 1.1 innings against Georgia last weekend. The Commodores will start junior RHP Matt Ruppenthal (3.32 ERA, 37 SO, 14 BB), who pitched seven scoreless innings against the Gamecocks in Vandy’s extra-inning victory in April.
USC vs Vandy Stats
Since the first round of the tournament is single elimination, the loser of this game goes home while the winner advances to the double elimination portion of the tournament to play 3rd-seeded Kentucky.
When: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday
How to Watch: On TV on the SEC Network or online through WatchEspn
How to Listen: 107.5 The Game & The Gamecock Radio Network