After a rough start and a few shaky outings, at least for their normal standards, the South Carolina Gamecocks pitchers are in the groove. For the season, they have only given up more than 3 earned runs in a game four times this season, with two of those coming against Clemson. But since losing the series against the Tigers, they have only given up three earned runs and 10 total runs in the past six games. In fact, even more impressive is that the Gamecocks pitching staff hasn’t given up an earned run in 42 straight innings, with the last one coming in the 3rd inning against High Point last Tuesday which was five games ago.
This stretch of innings without allowing any earned runs has significantly lowered the team’s overall ERA to just 2.20 for the season, which puts them around 13th in the nation, which is much more in the range of where this pitching staff normally sits. The interesting part is this is really the only statistic which they are near the top of the nation, although fortunately it is the most important one. Many of the other areas, like strikeouts, base on balls allowed, hits allowed, and others are good but not great.
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The starters are having a good season, but the relievers are having a great season. Many games, the runs given up are very early in the game, but then the opponent gets shut down the remainder of the game. Jack Wynkoop has been very solid this season, and is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, batters are only hitting .196 and he’s only given up 5 base on balls in 27 innings. Will Crowe is showing he has given up 9 earned runs in 23 innings, but 8 of those came against Clemson, so in his other 17 innings, he has only given up one earned run, and is leading the team with 31 strikeouts. Josh Reagan has also been very solid as well and has a 2.79 ERA in four games and 19 innings.
On the reliever side, Taylor Widener has definitely been closing things down for the Gamecocks this year. He is 11th in the nation in saves with 5 already picking one up in every outing he has had. He has a strong 1.17 ERA in seven innings, and has an incredible 15 strikeouts already which ends up being more than 2 per inning. Vince Fiori has been almost unhittable this season, with a 0.69 ERA and batters only hitting .080 against him in 13 innings and 8 appearances. The two guys combined have been phenomenal all season.
The rest of the staff has done well also, and Coach Chad Holbrook has used pitchers in different scenarios. Freshman Clarke Schmidt has started once and has five relief appearances and is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA. Matthew Vogel has also had one start and one relief appearance and has been very solid this year.
Overall, this group has done a fantastic job, especially in 12 of the 16 games this year. They may not be at the top of nation in every category, but they’re not allowing runs, and holding strong when they’re needed the most. As the offense has struggled a little to get going, these guys have kept the Gamecocks in position to win and they are now 13-3 on the season and 7th in the nation. If this pitching group stays this strong, and the offense comes to life, this team will be unstoppable.
The Gamecocks play the second game of the two game series against Penn State tonight at 7pm at Carolina Stadium. This weekend starts SEC play against Kentucky, and these pitchers will need to continue to be at their best with the Wildcats batting over .300 on the season.