South Carolina Baseball: What to expect from the 2024 Gamecocks; A USC preview

South Carolina baseball begins their season this Friday, and expectations for Mark Kingston's team are high.

South Carolina baseball star Ethan Petry celebrates a home run with Talmadge LeCroy in last year's SEC Tournament
South Carolina baseball star Ethan Petry celebrates a home run with Talmadge LeCroy in last year's SEC Tournament / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA
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South Carolina Baseball 2024 Preview and Expectations:
The Pitching Staff

Even though electric sophomore Eli Jerzembeck and high-upside freshman Reese Marcum will not play this year due to injuries, the Gamecocks have a lot of pitchers who feel as if they could contribute in 2024.

The starting rotation has no bonafide returners, but Eli Jones certainly is the closest thing to that in garnet and black. The right-handed junior had some really good moments last season and spent about half of the year in the starting rotation after various injuries befell Noah Hall and Will Sanders. He is almost assuredly going to be part of the opening weekend starting rotation.

Matthew Becker is next up in terms of experience pitching for the Gamecocks. The lefty from Chapin was injured in a recent scrimmage, though, and no official word has come out about his status. If he is healthy, he seems like a safe bet to start. If not, things could get a little wacky.

Roman Kimball transferred into the program from Notre Dame but had Tommy John surgery before getting into a real game for the Gamecocks. He is somewhat questionable to start the year from a health standpoint, but he appears ready to go. He likely will start early, and if his first fall (in 2022 leading up to the 2023 season) is any indication, he will be a good one.

Players like Ty Good (transfer righty from College of Charleston), Dylan Eskew (right-handed junior), and Eddie Copper (true freshman right-hander) could be starting candidates, as well, and plenty of other pitchers have had some good moments in the fall or early spring practices. Austin Williamson will factor in somewhere, and lefties Jackson Phipps and Garrett Gainey probably will have a role.

In the bullpen, South Carolina baseball followers know that Chris Veach (if fully healthy after hip surgery) is going to play a prominent role late in games. However, Georgia transfer Michael Polk could fight for the closer role. Veteran transfers like Drake Quinn, Rickey Williams, and Tyler Dean are names to watch, as well.

Freshmen like Eddie Copper, Tyler Pitzer, Javarra Martin, Jake McCoy, Parker Marlatt, Xavier Pelzer, and Joey Wittig all have a lot of talent. They won't all find a role this season, but the Gamecocks will be counting on a couple of them to step up and play important roles in the bullpen or starting in the mid-week.

While things are going to change a lot for the pitching staff over the course of the season, Matt Williams and Mark Kingston could run out a staff that looks something like this:

Weekend Rotation: RHP Eli Jones, LHP Matthew Becker (if healthy)/RHP Dylan Eskew, RHP Roman Kimball

Mid-Week Starters: RHP Eddie Copper, RHP Ty Good, RHP Dylan Eskew (if not on the weekend), LHP Jake McCoy, RHP Joey Wittig, LHP Javarra Martin

Late-Inning, High-Leverage Relievers: RHP Chris Veach, RHP Michael Polk, RHP Austin Williamson, LHP Garrett Gainey, RHP Drake Quinn

Names to Watch: RHP Tyler Pitzer, RHP Tyler Dean, RHP Connor McCreery, LHP Javarra Martin, RHP Joey Wittig, LHP Jake McCoy, RHP Sam Simpson, RHP Ricky Williams, LHP Jackson Phipps