Baseball pregame: USC hopes to give Brown rude awakening

nwhite@thestate.comMarch 6, 2014 

  • GAMECOCKS VS. BEARS

    WHO: USC (12-0) vs. Brown 0-0

    WHEN: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Saturday, TBD; Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

    WHERE: Carolina Stadium

    RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5

    TV: None

    SERIES: USC leads 8-0

    LAST MEETING: The Gamecocks swept a three-game series in 2010

    RANKINGS: USC is No. 3 in Baseball America’s Top 25

    PITCHING MATCHUPS: Saturday, Game 1, USC LHP Jordan Montgomery, Jr., 2-0, 2.60 vs. Brown RHP Anthony Galan, Sr.; Saturday, Game 2, USC LHP Jack Wynkoop, So., 3-0, 1.96 vs. Brown RHP Dave St. Lawrence, Jr.; Sunday, USC RHP Wil Crowe, Fr., 2-0, 1.40 vs. Brown RHP Christian Taugner, Fr.

    NOTES: USC’s 12-0 start is the best since opening 2004 with an 18-0 record. The school record for best start was 22-0 in 2000. … OF Connor Bright has hit safely in all 12 games and is batting .444 (20-for-45) with 14 RBIs and six doubles. … RHP Joel Seddon hasn’t allowed a hit or a run in seven relief appearances with four saves and 13 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings pitched. … C Grayson Greiner is hitting .350 (14-for-40) with a team-high three home runs and 18 RBIs to go with a .458 on-base percentage and .625 slugging percentage. … South Carolina is 165-32 record in games at Carolina Stadium, a winning percentage of .837, since it opened in 2009. … The USC bullpen has tossed 36 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

    Neil White

South Carolina’s final weekend series before SEC play begins features a pair of unbeaten teams. But it’s 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., they’ll 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 team’s 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.

“It’ll be interesting,” Drabinski said.

“It’s going to be exciting because South Carolina obviously is an exceptional team, and we’ll have our hands full. I’m just more concerned about our guys playing the best we can and not about who we’re 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 they’re not the best team in the country, I think they’re close,” Drabinski said. “They pitch, they play defense, they hit, they hit for power, and they’ve 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 we’ve got a little more talent than we’ve 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 won’t think about not having played a game, and our players won’t 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 we’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “We just want to get a gauge of where we are right now.”

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