South Carolina Baseball: Vanderbilt series opener postponed

South Carolina baseball had a nice offensive game in the mid-week against USC-Upstate, but weather will keep them from having a chance to play on Friday.

South Carolina baseball has postponed its Friday series opener vs. Vanderbilt due to weather
South Carolina baseball has postponed its Friday series opener vs. Vanderbilt due to weather / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

South Carolina baseball fell out of several top-25 polls after losing the first SEC series of the season this past weekend. Dropping 2 of 3 to Ole Miss was largely a result of poor situational hitting and far too many strikeouts by the guys in garnet and black.

A better (but not perfect) offensive showing in the mid-week netted the Gamecocks a victory over USC-Upstate at Fluor Field in Greenville. A strong 4th inning in which they scored 9 runs carried the day offensively, and Carolina managed to push across 5 other runs thanks to 13 walks from Upstate pitchers and big home runs from catcher Cole Messina and outfielder Blake Jackson.

USC still struck out 10 times on the day against a team that was really struggling on the mound. That will need to improve moving forward. Mark Kingston's team was up-and-down on the bump, as well, but strong relief efforts from Tyler Pitzer, Parker Marlatt, Chris Veach, and Garrett Gainey limited the Spartans to 0 runs (they scored 8 against Carolina's other 3 pitchers).

In the game, Cole Messina, Ethan Petry, and Blake Jackson hit home runs, and Messina, Petry, Parker Noland, and Will Tippett all reached base three times in the 14-8 victory.

The Gamecocks' attention turns back to SEC play, though, they will have to wait a little while longer than they had hoped to play again. Friday's game against the Vanderbilt Commodores has been postponed due to rain. If the weather permits, the Gamecocks and Commodores will play a doubleheader (two 9-inning games) starting at 1:00 PM EST on Saturday.

Ticket holders for Friday's game will be admitted to game 1 of the doubleheader and may stay for game 2 in standing room only areas of Founders Park. Ticket holders for Saturday's scheduled game may attend game 1 of the doubleheader in standing room only areas before heading to their seats for game 2.

Vanderbilt is a top-10 team in the country once again, and the Commodores are well-balanced.

On offense, the 'Dores rely on getting on base and manufacturing runs more than hitting the ball out of the yard. Vandy has hit just 25 home runs in their 22 contests this year, but they have 8 primary starters with an on-base percentage over .400, and they've stolen over 50 bags. Tim Corbin's team is not afraid to take an old-school approach and lay down a sacrifice bunt or run a hit-and-run play to advance base runners. With their team speed, they score a lot of runs without a lot of extra-base hits.

On the backs of strong on-base skills and a lot of doubles, three Commodores have a slugging percentage over .600 as 3-hole hitting catcher Alan Espinall and fellow veterans Jonathan Vastine and Troy LaNeve have been hitting the cover off of the baseball. Sophomore RJ Austin has been great situationally, as well, as he leads the team in RBI and runs from the leadoff spot.

Pitching, as it usually is in Nashville, is good. Devin Futrell is as good as they come for Sunday starters, and top-2 starters Bryce Cunningham and Carter Holton are allowing batting averages under .200 against them. The Commodores have 5 or 6 quality relievers that can be deployed at any time.

This series will be a tough one for the Gamecocks, but with the games played at Founders Park, Mark Kingston's group needs a strong effort to stay in contention to host a Regional at the end of the regular season. South Carolina baseball fans will see Eli Jones and Dylan Eskew get the ball for the two Saturday contests, but the third starting pitcher has not yet been announced.

If the Gamecocks can get quality work on the mound from their pitchers (and they should as Carolina ranks top-10 nationally in several pitching statistics, including ERA and WHIP), perhaps the confidence boost on offense from the 14-run outburst against USC-Upstate can propel the bats to a big weekend against their SEC rival.

All three games against Vanderbilt can be watched on the SEC Network+. Game 1 on Saturday will begin at 1:00 PM EST, game 2 will follow (roughly around 5:00 PM EST), and game 3 will begin at 1:00 on Sunday.

Next. South Carolina Baseball: Former Gamecock on ESPN's MLB top-100. South Carolina Baseball: Former Gamecock on ESPN's MLB top-100. dark