Weekend Review: USC Gets Wake Up Call
Although a sweep was expected in the weekend series against the Auburn Tigers, the way the Gamecocks played on Saturday and Sunday shows that they got the wake-up call needed following Friday's embarrassing 16-1 loss.
The Gamecocks pounded out 28 runs over 31 hits in two days after getting handed their worst loss of the year on Friday. Arik Hempy returned at the best possible time and gave his club the energy boost they needed.
Now that the SEC season is halfway over, and the Gamecocks know it's time to buckle down because every game counts.
Travis Jones showed Coach Tanner this weekend it doesn't matter whether he hits 8th, 7th, or 2nd, he can get the job done. Jones went 5-12 against Auburn with two HRs and eight RBIs. He's now hitting .323 and is third on the team with 10 HRs. The adjustments that Jones made in his swing about a month ago are really paying dividends.
James Darnell welcomed his new spot in the order on Saturday, going 3-9 in the two Gamecock wins with two HRs. With Trent Kline's power numbers not continuing at the pace he once was at, Darnell has become the new man in the 3rd spot in front of Justin Smoak. Darnell is tied for the team lead with 11 HRs and is second with 39 RBIs, three behind Smoak.
Cheyne Hurst was certainly happy to be back in the starting lineup and wanted to make sure Tanner knew he would like to stay. Hurst went 6-9 at the plate, including a 4-4 showing on Saturday. Hurst hit 9th on Saturday and 8th on Sunday, and with Jones' power numbers continuing to climb, Hurst's lack of power is not a problem.
Hempy has locked down his spot in the weekend rotation and is absolutely what the Gamecocks needed. With what was once considered an extremely deep pitching staff, injuries and inconsistencies have left Gamecock fans wondering if this team has the staff to go all the way. But there is good news on the horizon.
With Mike Cisco's return in sight, and if Will Atwood and Blake Cooper can hold their own, Hempy and Harris Honeycutt should guide this team through the rest of the year.
Yes, Honeycutt did struggle this weekend against Auburn, but expect him to return to form now that he has gotten his first ever wake-up call.
Jordan Costner should return next week which will add to an already deep bullpen. Curtis Johnson got back on track throwing a solid 9th inning on Sunday. The looming question around Wynn Pelzer still remains since his services were not needed this weekend in the three blowouts.
A sweep was the only thing that would have made this weekend a true success, but I like the way this team rallied after Friday's collapse.
Adding Hempy to the staff is huge and should correct the Gamecocks' Saturday problems.
Now the Gamecocks have their toughest stretch yet with back to back weekend road trips to Ole Miss and Alabama looming. Taking four of six would put the Gamecocks at 12-8 and in good shape to possibly win the East.
This is my favorite part of the baseball season, and the Gamecocks need to find ways to pull out the close games from this point on. Expect Tanner to get after his guys and the veterans to step it up.
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