White Soundoff: USC gets first chance to bounce back

Posted on March 14, 2014 

South Carolina's Jordan Montgomery (34) is dejected after a grand slam put Mississippi ahead during the Gamecocks' game with Mississippi Friday night.Mississippi won the game 6-4.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com

One loss doesn’t really count as adversity.

But South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook does want to see how his team bounces back from losing for the first time. The Gamecocks rolled through those first 16 non-conference games, but Mississippi threw up a roadblock in the SEC opener.

That’s really no surprise. Holbrook called the Rebels a mirror image of his team all week, and they showed why with a gutsy comeback win on the road in front of nearly 8,000 hostile fans.

The top SEC teams don’t flinch at the first sign of trouble, and Ole Miss kept plugging away against USC’s Friday night guy, junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery, despite trailing by three runs midway through the game.

The Gamecocks pulled off a pair of big comeback wins against ranked rival Clemson earlier in the season, so they understand that good teams aren’t going away simply because they’re trailing by a few runs. That’s a large part of what makes the SEC schedule so much fun to watch and so competitive for the teams. The players in these programs must learn to punch as well as take a punch.

And while there rightfully was some excitement about the fast start by the pitching staff, which piled up nine shutouts in those 16 wins, Holbrook knows how much more difficult it is to put up nine innings worth of zeroes against any team in this league, which features seven clubs ranked in Baseball America’s Top 25.

The Gamecocks now must sweep Saturday’s doubleheader to win the series, but even if they don’t get it done, it’s not the end of the world. The goal will be to win as many of the remaining nine series as they can. It won’t be easy, as Holbrook likes to note every week, but that’s why players come to play for this program in this conference.

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