South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock bats stay hot in mid-week as weekend road trip is up next

South Carolina baseball whipped up on the East Tennessee State Buccaneers 15-2 ahead of their weekend road trip to the "other Columbia" to face Mizzou.
South Carolina baseball sluggers Kennedy Jones and Dalton Reeves celebrating a home run
South Carolina baseball sluggers Kennedy Jones and Dalton Reeves celebrating a home run / Cyndi Chambers Sports/Special to the

An up-and-down season for Mark Kingston's South Carolina baseball team appears to be on one of the up-swings currently. The Gamecocks are red hot at the plate as they scored 29 runs in a series win over the Kentucky Wildcats over the weekend and then smacked the East Tennessee State Buccaneers in the mid-week by a score of 15-2.

The recent surge has helped the Gamecocks stay above the "hosting line," meaning they are considered to be one of the top-16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament as things stand today. A Regional hosting seed is the expectation in Columbia, and if things continue going well for USC over the season's final month, that expectation will be met.

The thrashing of ETSU was as simple as the score would indicate: the Gamecock bats knocked the cover off the ball, and the pitchers limited the Buccaneers' hitters. Every player in the starting lineup reached base at least twice, and four YardCocks smacked home runs as Ethan Petry, Kennedy Jones, Dalton Reeves, and Cole Messina all went yard. Jake McCoy gave up 2 runs in 2 innings as the starting pitcher, but the bullpen held ETSU scoreless over the remaining 5 innings to preserve the 15-2 win in just 7 frames thanks to the 10-run rule being in effect.

This weekend's test will pit the suddenly swatting Gamecocks against the Missouri Tigers in the "other Columbia." The road series will be Carolina's first since they took two of three games from the struggling Florida Gators in Gainesville April 12th through 14th.

Missouri is at the bottom of the SEC East at the moment as they have a losing record overall and a putrid 6-15 record in conference play. Three of their victories came in a sweep of Florida the week before the Gamecocks played them.

Though USC struggled some offensively before this recent hot stretch, the Tigers ranked below the Gamecocks in most important offensive categories at the time, and the numbers have gotten worse since then. Mizzou has scored more than 2 runs in an SEC contest just once in their last two series en route to a 1-5 record combined against the LSU Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers.

On the season, Missouri has allowed opponents to post a slugging percentage 40 points higher against them than they've been able to produce. Much of that is because the UM offense only has three players who have knocked more than 10 extra-base hits this season. Jackson Lovich, Trevor Austin, Brock Daniels, and Jackson Beaman are good hitters, but the rest of the lineup has been average or worse for most of the season.

The pitching hasn't been much better as only Javyn Pimental has been good among the starters, and reliever Brock Lucas is the only pitcher on the entire team who has an ERA below 3.64. Even with those two hurlers being the best for Missouri this year, Pimental is among the SEC leaders in hit batters, and Lucas is a walks machine.

As an SEC program, the Missouri Tigers are capable of stealing this series from the Gamecocks, especially given the fact that it is being played at Taylor Field. However, South Carolina is the better team and should expect to win the three-game set.

The series against Mizzou will begin on Friday with a 7:00 PM EST first pitch, Saturday's game 2 will start at 4:00 PM EST, and Sunday's finale is slated for 2:00 PM EST. All three games will be streamed on the SEC Network+.

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