South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks dominate in mid-week again, prepare for final SEC home series

South Carolina baseball smacked Winthrop on Tuesday night as they get ready for a Thursday-Saturday series against the Georgia Bulldogs at Founders Park.
South Carolina baseball third baseman-turned-shortstop Talmadge LeCroy
South Carolina baseball third baseman-turned-shortstop Talmadge LeCroy / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina baseball keeps rolling. After an up-and-down start to the year, the last two weeks or so have seen Mark Kingston's team maintain some really solid play on the field.

The Gamecocks beat the top-5 Kentucky Wildcats in a 3-game series at Founders Park, destroyed East Tennessee State in the mid-week, and then traveled to the Missouri Tigers and took 2 of 3 in the "other Columbia." Carolina scored 66 runs in those 7 games, nearly doubling up their opponents, whom they have limited to crossing home plate just 36 times. However, 15 of those runs allowed came in one game, so the Gamecock pitching has given up just 21 total runs in the other 6 contests.

The strong run continued on Tuesday as South Carolina baseball dominated the Winthrop Eagles in 7 innings in Rock Hill by a score of 15-3.

The Gamecocks belted five home runs (courtesy of Ethan Petry, Cole Messina, Kennedy Jones, Austin Brinling, and Gavin Casas), and Brinling and Blake Jackson each reached base four times. Brinling and Jones combined for 9 RBI.

The Carolina pitching staff, collectively, didn't have the cleanest outing, but the unit of Tyler Pitzer, Jake McCoy, Tyler Dean, Joey Wittig, and Michael Polk battled and limited the damage to just 3 total Winthrop runs on 5 hits. Dean had a clean 1 1/3 inning showing and picked up the win.

The lopsided win keeps the momentum going for the YardCocks, but they will match up with the red-hot Georgia Bulldogs in a 3-game showdown from Thursday to Saturday this weekend.

The Bulldogs will enter the series with confidence as they have won five straight games, including a three-game sweep of the Vanderbilt Commodores. During their win streak, Georgia has outscored their opponents (three games against Vandy, one against Kennesaw State, and one against Texas A&M) by a score of 49-18.

Georgia has one of the top offenses in the SEC as the Bulldogs are 1st in the conference in on-base percentage, 2nd in home runs, 2nd in slugging percentage, 3rd in runs scored, and 3rd in walks. The man leading the charge is Golden Spikes candidate Charlie Condon who is hitting a ridiculous .459/.568/1.105/1.673 with a modern NCAA record-tying 33 home runs (the bats in the college game went through a few changes in the late 2000s and early 2010s, reducing power numbers).

Condon isn't the only weapon in the UGA lineup, however. Four other Bulldogs have at least 12 long balls on the season, and Corey Collins likely would be in consideration for the SEC Player of the Year award if Condon and Florida's Jac Caglionone weren't the runaway favorites to finish the year as the top-2 in award voting.

The Bulldog pitching staff has talent but hasn't had a great year. They've allowed the 3rd most walks in the league despite pitching the 2nd fewest innings, and they have surrendered the 3rd most home runs, as well. Leighton Finley and Charlie Goldstein have been the top starters for the team, but Finley hasn't been as good as hoped, and Goldstein might miss the weekend with an injury. The bullpen has struggled, too, as only two relievers who have faced over 30 batters have an ERA under 4.00.

Similarly to Mark Kingston's team this year, new Georgia head coach Wes Johnson utilizes several players at multiple positions to keep better bats in the lineup (including Condon and Collins), and, also like the Gamecocks, the 'Dawg defense has had some tough moments because of it.

The Gamecocks and Bulldogs are tied in the SEC standings, each holding 13-11 records in SEC play. The series will hold major implications for SEC Tournament seeding and Regional hosting seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

A recent television change has occurred, and now Thursday's opener, set for 8:00 PM EST, will now be shown on ESPN2 and will be streamable on the ESPN app. Friday's game 2 will begin at 5:30 PM EST and will be broadcast on the SEC Network and ESPN app. The first pitch for the finale on Saturday will be at 2:00 PM EST, and the game will be streamed on the ESPN app.

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