Four-win week good for Gamecocks, ranking improves

May 13, 2013 

USC's Graham Saiko hits into a groundout for an RBI in the fourth inning of the game between the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia.

JEFF BLAKE — jblake@thestate.com

A four-win week came at the right time for South Carolina, which defeated Wofford once and Georgia three times. The Gamecocks improved to 37-14 overall and 16-10 in the SEC and moved up one spot to No. 14 in the Baseball America Top 25. It was USC’s fourth sweep of a conference opponent this season and gave the Gamecocks a 2 ½ -game lead over Mississippi State and Ole Miss for fourth place overall and a first-round bye in the conference tournament. They have three SEC games left to play this weekend in Starkville, Miss.

THUMBS UP

The lefty starters:

Senior Nolan Belcher, sophomore Jordan Montgomery and freshman Jack Wynkoop took care of business in the weekend sweep of Georgia. All three picked up victories while combining to allow just five runs on 12 hits and four walks in 19 1/3 innings. They struck out 13. The trio gives the Gamecocks a formidable rotation heading into post-season play.

The seniors:

Nine players were honored Saturday on Senior Day -- a class that featured a mix of guys who have been on USC’s campus from two years to five years and played a variety of roles along the way. Four are position players, including power-hitting first baseman LB Danztler, and five are pitchers, including shutdown closer Tyler Webb. The others were Belcher, pitchers Adam Westmoreland, Colby Holmes, and Patrick Sullivan, third baseman Chase Vergason, catcher Dante Rosenberg, and outfielder Sean Sullivan -- all solid players and citizens.

THUMBS DOWN

Despite a good week on the field, the Gamecocks didn’t get much bounce in the RPI due to the weakness of the opposition. They remain No. 11 in the RPI, which makes it much more difficult to climb into the top eight when the national seeds for the NCAA tournament are announced at the conclusion of the conference tournaments.

GOOD NEWS

The super sophomores played well all four games. Shortstop Joey Pankake hit .500 (7-for-14) this past week with a triple, a homer, four runs scored and four RBIs, and catcher Grayson Greiner batted .615 (8-for-13) with four doubles, one triple, four runs scored and four RBIs. Pankake is now hitting .324 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs, while Greiner is batting .306 with three homers and 32 RBIs.

BAD NEWS

Dantzler missed Sunday’s win due to soreness in his shoulder, which he dislocated earlier in the week against Wofford. He played the first two games of the Georgia series, but he struck out three times in Saturday’s game. That lingering soreness likely affected his comfort level at the plate, which led to him sitting out Sunday. USC coach Chad Holbrook’s top priority is to get him healthy and ready for the Mississippi State series and ensuing tournament play.

JUST THE FACTS

Senior left-hander Tyler Webb made two relief appearances last week, which leaves him one short of the USC career record at 101. The record of 102 is held by Matt Price (2009-12). Webb is 2-1 with a 0.56 ERA this season in 32 1/3 innings with 48 strikeouts and only seven walks. He leads the SEC with 14 saves.

The Gamecocks are 33-0 when leading after eight innings.

USC leads the SEC with 43 home runs, ranks third in slugging percentage (.426) and fourth in on-base percentage (.377).

UP NEXT

Tuesday: Presbyterian, Carolina Stadium, 7 p.m. (FS Carolinas/FS South) Thursday: at Mississippi State, Polk-Dement Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday: at Mississippi State, Polk-Dement Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Saturday: at Mississippi State, Polk-Dement Stadium, 3 p.m.

-- Neil White

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