Columbia, S.C. -
South Carolina (2-1) continues play in the 2013 season with a three-game series this weekend vs. Albany (0-2). First pitch for the opener on Friday is set for 3 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday's contests scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday and Sunday's games are available on the Gamecock Radio Network's flagship station 107.5 FM, "The Game." Saturday's game will be available on 1320 AM. Live video broadcast is available at GamecocksOnline.com as well as live Gametracker stats.
LIVE COVERAGE Radio: Friday & Sunday - Flagship WNKT FM 107.5 "The Game" in Columbia Saturday - 1320 AM - Andy Demetra, Derek Scott & Tommy Moody on the call. Television: None Live Video: Gamecocks All-Access Internet: Live Gametracker stats at GamecocksOnline.com. Additional coverage on Twitter @GamecockBasebll and Facebook/Gamecocksonline
1977 GAMECOCKS TO BE HONORED
The 1977 South Carolina baseball team went all the way to the national championship game at the College World Series. June Raines' first squad made a statement. After losing its first game in the postseason, the Gamecocks won four straight at Sarge Frye Field to win the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship. The squad won three straight games in Omaha to advance to the finals of the CWS and finished with a 43-12-1 record. This Saturday, they will receive College World Series rings recognizing their achievements in a pregame ceremony.
Along the way, several Gamecocks put together extraordinary seasons. Right-hander Randy Martz went 14-0 with two victories at the College World Series. That record remains the best undefeated record in school history. He was a unanimous All-American and won the Lefty Gomez Plate, given to the top amateur baseball player in the country. Right-hander Jim Lewis pitched 149 innings, a single-season record that is still held today with 13 complete games, also a school record. He won 11 games on the year, struck out 145 batters and tallied three shutouts. The entire pitching staff had a cumulative earned run average of 2.61.
Outfielder Mookie Wilson led the Gamecocks in hitting with a .357 average and stole 33 bases. Second baseman Mark Van Bever hit .335 and stole 46 bases as well. Senior outfielder Don Repsher hit .301 with 11 homers and a team-high 57 RBI with Johnny Hinkel adding 15 home runs also. The Gamecocks hit .283 as a team with 65 homers and scored 365 runs in a 57-game schedule. They also stole 108 bases.
Wilson, Martz and Chuck McLean were named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team.
This is South Carolina's first meeting against Albany on the baseball diamond. The Great Danes dropped a pair of games last weekend to Canisius in the Ron Fraser Classic in Cary, N.C. Head coach Jon Mueller is in his 14th season at the helm of the program.
Albany went 22-32-1 last year with a 16-8 record in the America East Conference, second best conference record in the league behind 2012 CWS participant Stony Brook. Albany has one NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The Great Danes competed in the Austin Regional in 2007.
Albany returns eight position starters from last year's squad. Among those returnees is junior left fielder D.J. Hoagbook, who led Albany in hitting last year with a .318 average (48-for-151). Senior right-hander Austin Chase went 4-2 with a 4.24 ERA in 74.1 innings. Senior right-hander Kasciem Graham is also back after logging 63.2 innings last season.
GAMECOCKS IN THE RANKINGS
South Carolina is ranked by every college baseball publication in the preseason. The Gamecocks are No. 5 in the USA Today coaches' poll, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball rank Carolina No. 7 as well.
LAST WEEK'S RECAP
South Carolina opened the 2013 season with a series victory vs. Liberty at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated Liberty 4-3 on Opening Day, rallied from seven runs down, for an 8-7 win vs. Liberty in game one of a doubleheader on Sunday and lost 3-2 in the nightcap, a seven-inning affair.
This is the first time in school history that South Carolina has opened a season with three consecutive one-run games. Last year, the Gamecocks opened the year with two one-run victories vs. VMI.
South Carolina is now 83-38 on Opening Day. The Gamecocks have won 15 consecutive Opening Day games. The win also marked head coach Chad Holbrook's first career victory as a head coach in collegiate baseball. South Carolina is 9-3 on Opening Day in one-run games dating back to 1970.
MONTGOMERY WITH A CONVINCING START
Sophomore left-hander Jordan Montgomery was effective in his first start of the season to earn a win on Opening Day. Montgomery pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just five hits and two walks while striking out five batters in the 4-3 win.
He extended a scoreless inning streak of 14 straight innings without allowing a run dating back to last season. The win marked his third straight victory in a start for the Gamecocks dating back to last year.
For the second consecutive season, LB Dantzler came up with a big hit on Opening Day. Dantzler was 2-for-2 with a solo home run and sacrifice fly in the 4-3 win over Liberty. Last season he had the game-winning RBI single in a 2-1 win over VMI. Dantzler hit .333 (3-for-9) in the series with three RBI.
A CALL TO ARMS
The Gamecock pitching staff gave a very strong effort in the first weekend with a team ERA of 2.88 in 25.0 innings of work. The Gamecocks struck out 26 batters and limited Liberty to a .206 batting average over the weekend.
Tyler Webb MAKES HIS MARK
Senior left-hander Tyler Webb was sterling in two relief stints. Webb picked up a save with 1.2 scoreless innings of work in the 4-3 win on Opening Day. Webb did not allow a hit and struck out two batters to seal the victory. He would also pitch a scoreless 0.1 inning in the 3-2 loss on Sunday.
Webb currently ranks eighth all-time in school history in appearances with 80 games pitched in a Gamecock uniform. The school record of 102 was set last year by Matt Price.
102 Matt Price 2009-10-11-12
94 Michael Roth 2009-10-11-12
88 Rob Mosser 1990-91-92-93
87 Aaron Rawl 2002-03-04-05
87 Jason Pomar 1996-97-98-99
86 Jamie Poston 1997-98-99-00
81 Kip Bouknight 1998-99-00-01 80 Tyler Webb 2010-11-12-13
ACROSS THE PLATE
Junior outfielder Graham Saiko and sophomore outfielder Tanner English found their way across the plate. Both players had three runs scored to lead the team in the Liberty series over the weekend. Saiko hit .300 (3-for-10) with a RBI and three walks as well. He has a .462 on-base percentage after the first weekend. English hit .333 (3-for-9) with two walks and has a .455 on-base percentage.
WHAT A RALLY
The seven-run rally for the Gamecocks in the 8-7 victory over Liberty was the largest comeback from a deficit since Carolina rallied from an eight-run deficit in a 15-12 win at Tennessee on May 9, 2009.
PANKAKE OFF TO GOOD START
Sophomore shortstop Joey Pankake hit .333 (3-for-9) for the weekend with a pair of RBI. He had a pair of sacrifice flies on Sunday, one in each game of the doubleheader. Pankake went 2-for-2 with a run scored in the 3-2 loss.
NOLAN EFFECTIVE IN FIRST START
Senior left-hander Nolan Belcher was effective on the mound despite a loss in the doubleheader nightcap. Belcher worked 5.2 innings and allowed three runs on four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. The nine strikeouts are the most for Belcher in a game since he struck out a career-high 11 on May, 15 2009 in a win over Georgia as a freshman.
WESTMORELAND WITH THE WIN
Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland picked up the victory in the 8-7 win. He worked 2.1 innings allowing two runs, both unearned, on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
HOLMES WITH THE ANSWER
Senior right-hander Colby Holmes had the longest outing for a Gamecock this weekend with 6.1 innings of work. He allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision in the 8-7 win over Liberty.
ON BASE WITH CHASE
Senior infielder Chase Vergason continues to find his way on base. Similar to last year, Vergason is off to a great start with his .571 on-base percentage that leads the team. He tallied a base hit, walked twice and was hit by a pitch in seven plate appearances. He also scored two runs and tallied a RBI.
South Carolina totaled 15,755 in attendance for its first two dates of the 2013 season, an average of 7,877 fans at Carolina Stadium. Opening Day featured a sellout crowd of 8,242 fans, the 27th sellout in Carolina Stadium history.
Opening Statement... It's good to get cranked up in the college season. We got our feet wet last weekend against a good Liberty team. I think we have had a good week of practice. We need to have another good one today. I know that the weather is an issue for the next couple of days. We are going to do our best to get three games in this weekend against Albany. I think our players have improved over the last week or so and I think for the most part, outside of Ahmad (Christian) we are relatively healthy. We are excited to get back on the field against a team that I don't really know too much about. I know they've got some older guys that finished second in their conference to Stony Brook and we all know what Stony Brook did in the post season. We are going to need to be ready to play. Obviously these games are very important to us.
On concerns moving forward after last weekend... Anytime you don't play as well as you would like to play there is concern. I thought we would be a little more consistent offensively than we were. We did some good things. I was disappointed with the way we played defense. We didn't play defense particularly well in the infield. Joey (Pankake) and Chase (Vergason) didn't play up to their capability. They didn't play the way they were playing in the scrimmages. I think we are going to be a strong defensive team as we move forward here. I think we are a good hitting team.
On the lineup changes... There are some guys I want to get into the game that didn't get to play much last weekend. Connor Bright is the type of kid I would like to have in the lineup. He didn't get the opportunities I wanted to give him last weekend. I wanted to give him some. George Iskenderian is a kid that I am high on. I don't know if I'm going to get him into here this weekend, but he is a talented, talented kid. Curt Britt is one of our best hitters but because he pitches he hasn't had a chance to get him as many at bats as we wanted to get him last weekend.