South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks bounce back to win two in mid-week, prep for Longwood series

South Carolina baseball bounced back a bit after losing the Clemson series by owning the mid-week, knocking off both The Citadel and Davidson.

South Carolina baseball third baseman Talmadge LeCroy
South Carolina baseball third baseman Talmadge LeCroy / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

After losing in two 1-run games to the rival Clemson Tigers last weekend (one in extra innings and one in a standard 9-inning contest), the South Carolina baseball team bounced back somewhat with a 2-0 showing in the mid-week.

The Tuesday contest against The Citadel saw Coach Mark Kingston tinker with the lineup. Dylan Brewer hit in the leadoff spot, Talmadge LeCroy hit 2nd, and with a lefty on the mound for the Bulldogs, Kennedy Jones played in left. The bats were pretty good, but LeCroy had the only two extra-base hits. LeCroy, Jones, Ethan Petry, and Tyler Causey all reached base at least three times.

Eddie Copper started the game on the mound for USC, delivering another impressive start. After 4 1/3 innings of 1-run ball (with 6 strikeouts and 0 walks/HBP), Parker Marlatt, Connor McCreary, and Drake Quinn finished the game without allowing a run, securing the 7-1 win for the Gamecocks.

On Wednesday, the weather shortened the game against Davidson. In the 4-1 win (in just 6 innings), Kingston changed the lineup even more. With Gavin Casas and Parker Noland struggling, the two lefties sat against a left-hander from Davidson. Ryan Bakes started behind the plate (Cole Messina went to first base), and freshman Lee Ellis played second base. Carolina finished with 0 extra-base hits and just 4 total hits in the 6-inning affair.

Matthew Becker struggled a bit as the starter with 3 walks in just 1 inning. However, Tyler Pitzer and Ty Good pitched the remaining 5 frames and struck out 9 combined batters while only giving up 1 free pass due to walk or hit-by-pitch.

Frankly, despite the talk around the program being that the offensive approach was going to change, nothing seemed different in the mid-week. South Carolina still was reliant on walks and hit-by-pitches as they didn't string together many base knocks or have many extra-base hits. Against vastly inferior competition, USC had just 2 extra-base hits (0 home runs) and only 5 hits with runners on base.

This weekend, the Gamecocks will look to continue fixing their offense when they face off with a Longwood squad that has lost four of their last five games. Longwood is just 1-5 on the road this season, as well. The Lancers were picked 8th out of 9 Big South teams in the preseason coaches poll, and just one player (pitcher Ethan Walker) was selected for the preseason All-Big South team.

Longwood does not hit for power (just 5 home runs in 12 games), but they get on base a lot (120 hits, 78 walks, and 42 hit-by-pitches) as they average a remarkable 20 base runners per game. Of their 128 runs, however, just 20 have come in their past 5 games. They had scored 39 in a series against Iona and a whopping 53 in a 3-game set against Siena.

Longwood does not utilize traditional pitching roles. The Lancers will have their starting pitcher operate more like an "opener," throwing just a few innings as he makes his way through the opposing lineup just once or twice. 2 of the 3 weekend starters have been good this season as Walker and Brenton Fisher have performed well.

The extra innings for the relief pitchers have not worked out well, however, as the bullpen has been abysmal. Just two relievers with more than 1 inning pitched have an ERA below 4.32. 5 relievers have ERAs above 11.00.

The Gamecocks likely will play multiple lineups this weekend as Longwood as started two righties and one lefty on the mound in their three previous weekend series. With Lee Ellis getting on base twice (walks) in his start, he could continue starting over Parker Noland, especially against the lefty Ethan Walker.

The starting rotation, at least in part, has been revealed. Eli Jones and Dylan Eskew will take the ball on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Sunday, though, is listed as a TBA. Roman Kimball has been the third weekend starter up to this point.

Game 1 on Friday will begin at 7:00, first pitch for Saturday's game 2 will be at 4:00, and the series finale is set to start at 1:30 on Sunday. All three games can be streamed on the SEC Network+. Weather could be a factor again this weekend.



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