South Carolinas final weekend series before SEC play begins features a pair of unbeaten teams. But its not quite what you think.
The Brown University baseball team also is winless. When the Bears show up at Carolina Stadium after the trip from Providence, R.I., theyll be playing their first game of the season.
Ivy League teams play fewer games than those from other conferences, and Brown coach Marek Drabinski decided to delay the start of his teams season one week longer to avoid a bye week later in the schedule and give his pitchers more time to get ready.
The Bears have made it outside three times in the preseason and have yet to step on a grass diamond.
Itll be interesting, Drabinski said.
Its going to be exciting because South Carolina obviously is an exceptional team, and well have our hands full. Im just more concerned about our guys playing the best we can and not about who were playing.
Drabinski has watched some video of the third-ranked Gamecocks (12-0), who have outscored their opponents 92-20, and knows the Bears could be running into a buzzsaw.
If theyre not the best team in the country, I think theyre close, Drabinski said. They pitch, they play defense, they hit, they hit for power, and theyve got guys who can run. There are no weaknesses from what I see on that team.
USC coach Chad Holbrook said the Gamecocks have an advantage from a preparation standpoint.
Drabinski expects his team to be better than the ones that finished 7-33 last season and 9-35 in 2012. His squad returns senior right-hander Anthony Galan, junior outfielder Will Marcal a second-team All-Ivy League pick and senior outfielder Daniel Massey.
I like our club. ... I think weve got a little more talent than weve had the last few years, Drabinski said.
The coach brought his 2010 team to Carolina Stadium, and it played competitively, losing by scores of 8-4, 10-7 and 6-5 in 10 innings. He said those players always spoke positively of the experience because of the stadium, the crowds and the atmosphere.
Once the first pitch is thrown, they wont think about not having played a game, and our players wont think about them not having played a game. Once the first pitch is thrown, you just think about playing baseball, Holbrook said.
That first weekend is always an exciting time for a team.
And Drabinski will be glad to find out where his team stands.
We realize weve got nothing to lose, he said. We just want to get a gauge of where we are right now.