South Carolina Baseball: Ranking the top-15 pitchers in Gamecock history

South Carolina Baseball's Michael Roth. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Baseball's Michael Roth. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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South Carolina baseball is one of the top programs in all of college baseball, especially since the turn of the century. Since 2000, the Gamecocks have had more wins than every team in the SEC other than LSU, and the Gamecocks’ two national championship wins and four championship series appearances trail only LSU and Oregon State during that span.

The Gamecocks’ most famous players have probably been position players, but a number of pitchers have rolled through the program and had excellent careers, as well, including winning the only Golden Spikes Award in team history.

But which of these pitchers had the best career on the mound for the South Carolina baseball program?

Honorable Mention

Braden Webb: A unique player in more ways than one, Braden Webb (2016) is one of the few players to ever play just one season at South Carolina before becoming a professional. In college baseball, a player who plays at the Division-I level must be three years removed from high school or have already turned 21 years old. Webb, an older high school graduate, would have only had to play two years before turning pro but redshirted due to injury in 2015.

His 2016 season was special, however, as he struck out 128 batters en route to an All-American team selection as a freshman (not just a Freshman All-American team but an All-American team as a freshman). Webb was part of a loaded rotation in 2016 with fellow Freshman All-American Adam Hill and All-American Clarke Schmidt.

Adam Hill: Adam Hill (2016-2018) was a Freshman All-American along with Braden Webb in the 2016 Gamecock rotation. Hill struggled with walks at times in his career, but the big right-hander had real swing-and-miss stuff that saw him finish his Gamecock career in the top-20 in career strikeouts despite playing just three seasons in college.

Nolan Belcher: A classic, small, soft-throwing lefty, Nolan Belcher (2009-2013) bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen during his Gamecock career. He was very effective in both roles but delivered his biggest moment as a starter. As a redshirt senior, Belcher pitched a 3-hit, complete game shutout over the rival Clemson Tigers.

Jim Lewis: Jim Lewis (1976-1977) played one season with the legendary Gamecock pitcher Tim Lewis, and their name similarities often caused problems for famous radio voice Bob Fulton. Lewis was a very good pitcher for two seasons in Columbia after transferring from Miami Dade. In 33 games pitched (24 starts), Lewis had 2.43 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 19 complete games. He had a brief Major League Baseball career.

Joel Seddon: A decent pitcher as a freshman and sophomore, Joel Seddon (2012-2014) turned around as a junior and logged arguably the best reliever season in the history of South Carolina baseball in 2014. In 43 1/3 innings of relief, he gave up 4 earned runs, good for an ERA under-1.00 out of the ‘pen. His 15 saves were also the 6th-highest total in a single Gamecock season ever.

Matt Threehouse: Matt Threehouse (1989-1993) is the owner of one of the collect names in Carolina baseball history, but he was also a good pitcher. Other than a strange dip as a redshirt sophomore, he was a high strikeout starting pitcher who finished third in the history of the program in career opponents sat down. Threehouse allowed a lot of base runners, but he generally was able to get out of trouble. He rode that ability to 31 career wins, good for 7th all-time.

Colie Bowers: Perhaps a surprising inclusion on a list like this, Lexington High School graduate Colie Bowers (2016-2017) actually owns a career record for the South Carolina baseball program. No player in the history of the Gamecocks (with at least 50 innings pitched) has allowed fewer hits per inning than Colie Bowers.

Bowers was certainly not an overpowering pitcher, and he only spent two seasons in Columbia, but he was difficult to square up for opposing hitters. He finished with an impressive 1.81 ERA and the third-best WHIP in program history over his 54 2/3 career innings pitched. Had he pitched more for the Gamecocks, he would have risen up this list.

Lee Gronkiewicz: Lee Gronkiewicz (1999-2001) transferred in from Spartanburg Methodist College and struggled in his first year with the Gamecocks. He was off to a much better start as a senior in 2000 before injuries derailed his season. Gronk was granted an extra year of eligibility, and the reliever made good use of it.

In 2001, Gronkiewicz set a school record for saves with 19 and put up a 1.31 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. The stellar numbers were enough for a place on the All-American team and a free agent contract from the Cleveland Indians. He was the Minor League Rolaids Reliever of the Year in 2003 and eventually made his way to the Majors for a short stint with the Toronto Blue Jays.

David Marchbanks: Overshadowed at times in the starting rotation by players like Kip Bouknight and Matt Campbell, David Marchbanks (2001-2003) was a pretty good contributor as a freshman and sophomore. His junior (and final) season, however, was special. Marchbanks was an All-American in 2003 after going 15-3 with an ERA of 2.73.

Aaron Rawl: Aaron Rawl (2002-2005) was a successful reliever for the Gamecocks for two seasons before transitioning to a full-time starting role. He made an All-American squad as a junior when he won 13 games, including a 2-hit shutout of the Tennessee Volunteers. He was actually a little better as a senior, though the win-loss record didn’t show it.

Brian Beatson: One of the top relievers in college baseball for a time, Brian Beatson (1987-1990) had a rough freshman year in ’87 but was a stud the remaining three years of his college career. In 72 relief appearances from 1988-1990, Beatson posted an ERA around 2.50 and a WHIP just over 1.00.

Allen Hilliard: Allen Hilliard (1970-1973) posted some of the best rate stats in the history of Gamecock pitchers. Hilliard has a career ERA of 2.28, but he never pitched over 77 innings in a season, despite being a starter for most of his career. Injuries kept him from becoming one of the best to ever take the hill for the Gamecocks, but Allen Hilliard was still really good.