Tuesday with Tanner
Let's Face It...
So the Gamecocks got you down? After all, a team ranked #1 only a month ago seems to be sliding. Down to #12 in the country and unable to sweep an SEC series, the Gamecocks look like they are down and out.
Now for a little reality check. The Southeastern Conference is the best college baseball in the country. Their RPI is better, their pitching is better and their offense is awesome. A sweep in an SEC series, no matter who you play, is a tough feat to accomplish. Vanderbilt, for example, couldn't sweep Georgia – the worst team in the SEC, dropping one game over the weekend 7-0.
This is not a team falling apart, rather a team unrelenting in their style. Has Harris Honeycutt shown signs of wear and tear? Sure he has, but at the same time Arik Hempy returned to SEC elite to pick up the slack.
The Offensive Fire Power
The offense has what some might consider an All-American infield. The SEC bears fruits of infield stardom in the likes of Pedro Alvarez (Vanderbilt), Matt LaPorta (Florida), Zack Cozart (Ole Miss) and Justin Henry. However, they'll all face a tough competition to win the awards with James Darnell, Justin Smoak and Travis Jones. All three have alarmingly close statistics, except for Jones' 12 steals. With 1.74 home runs per contest, thanks to these guys, the Gamecocks are the most powerful team in the country.
As for the pitching, Coach Tanner feels confident with a number of starters toting a fine resume. As it stands now, Hempy, Honeycutt, Cooper and Cisco are the main arms on the hill in the first inning. "I hope (Cisco) pitches well and he can be an impact guy for us. I certainly am happy with Cooper's outing on Sunday."
Mike Cisco, though not in the weekend rotation any more is looking better of late, "Yeah, he had pitched against Clemson over here and he pitched well. I think he's back; his velocity is good, I think he feels pretty good," said Gamecock Head Coach Ray Tanner, "He was anxious to pitch this last Sunday. He wanted the ball. No doubt about it. He came to see me and expressed his desire to pitch."
The Status on Andrew Crisp
After getting hit in the head with a pitch from Kentucky starter Andrew Albers, Andrew Crisp is doing well. According to Coach Tanner, he's doing well enough to start, "He's likely to start assuming he has a pretty good workout today. He seemed to be good to go on Sunday and he told me that it was O.K., but I was a little bit cautious. It was a pretty good lick he took. There was some swelling and I just wanted to make sure he was O.K."
Noted cases in baseball have seen a player get hit in the head and never recover from the fear of the ball. Is it better to sit out a while? Maybe so. In Crisp's case, Coach Tanner thinks it's imperative to get back out there.
There's a reason Tanner is the Head Coach and we are not. This weekend the line-up, an exercise in experimentation all season, was shifted again. Part time leadoff man, Travis Jones, was back in the top spot with James Darnell hitting second and Justin Smoak hitting third. Who says Coach Tanner doesn't like the long ball?
"I had moved him up to get our best hitters that were going pretty good, more opportunity," said Tanner, "When you come back around again, some guys don't get that extra at bat. The guys at the top of the order end up getting it."
That Carolina Killer Instinct
The time to make a move is now. There are no more tomorrows. Asked if the adrenaline would help get them through, Coach Tanner said, "I don't think you have to remind them it's that kind of situation. Baseball is a hard game to play when you try to play with a vengeance. It's a game that has to be played even-keel."
Jeff Jeffords has been solid out of the bullpen thus far and Coach Tanner took notice, "He's been pretty steady. He's done a nice job for us. He let me know he wanted to be in the middle of the action. He let me know that at the end of Fall practice. He's comfortable with the game on the line."
With Wynn Pelzer's ERA up to 7.00, Jeffords finally got the long awaited call.
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