Paladins, Cougars head to Columbia

The South Carolina baseball team continues their homestand this week as they face the Furman Paladins and the College of Charleston Cougars Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Sarge Frye Field. USC will look to remain perfect against the Palmetto State this season. Read inside for a full report.

The South Carolina baseball team is hoping to run its winning streak to six games as they take on the in-state rival Furman Paladins tonight and the College of Charleston Wednesday night at Sarge Frye Field.

The Gamecocks (15-5, 4-2) come into the midweek games with a hot hand, both offensively and defensively.

"We played four pretty good baseball games in a row," head coach Ray Tanner said. "We pitched, had some timely hitting and played great defense. We want to remain consistent."

Carolina has outscored their opponents by a 36-6 margin over the last four games.

As a team, Carolina turned eight double plays in this weekend's series over Mississippi State, in which they swept the lowly Bulldogs by scores of 9-1, 4-1, and 10-3.

The USC pitching staff has played outstanding baseball over the course of the previous week.

"One of the bright spots is we haven't surrendered a lot of runs," USC head coach Tanner said. "Coach Calvi and the pitchers have had a great plan. I hope that will continue."

USC has also been swinging the bat well over the last week, as second baseman Andrew Crisp, designated hitter Phil Disher, and third baseman James Darnell have ignited the once-struggling USC offense.

Crisp has hit safely in thirteen consecutive games, which is tied for the longest of the season alongside shortstop Reese Havens.

Meanwhile, DH Phil Disher went 4-8 this weekend against Mississippi State, and also drew three walks.

The highpoint of Carolina's offensive explosion came Sunday, as Disher walloped a grand slam homerun to put Carolina up by seven runs, allowing the USC pitching staff to hit the cruise control button.

Darnell also continues his strong play after a slow start to the season, all of which started in last week's College of Charleston game.

The junior from Danville, California went 5-6 at the plate and smashed three homeruns, tying a school record, which was most recently accomplished by former catcher Landon Powell.

However, a potent offense won't do much for the Gamecocks if they don't receive much help from their pitching staff, and judging by their performance over the past week, that shouldn't be a problem.

Taking the mound Tuesday night will be senior right-handed pitcher Nick Godwin (2-2, 3.22 ERA), who comes into the game after a dominating performance against the Cougars last week.

In the game, the senior went eight strong innings, allowing only one run on two hits while striking out five.

"Nick has pitched extremely well," Tanner said. "He's had a couple of bad innings, but if you take out those innings, he's had a stellar year so far. He's been good. I hope he continues to pitch the way he pitched at the College of Charleston. That will let us know that if someone slips up on the weekend, we can slide him in there."

Godwin will be opposed by sophomore right hander Kevin Gaid (0-0, 6.75 ERA), who has only pitched 1.1 innings this season.

Wednesday night, the Gamecocks will throw freshman Sam Dyson (1-0, 4.91 ERA), who looks to stave off a Cougar team hungry for revenge after being embarassed at home last week by Carolina.

The hard-throwing Dyson will have to shake off some rust early, as the young flamethrower hasn't pitched in a game since March 12.

His start last week against USC Upstate was cancelled due to rain.

"I'd like for Dyson to be a little bit more polished at this point," Tanner said. "But I also like the fact we haven't pitched him too much. The advantage is he can be a guy for us late in the season. But we know he's coming off an injury. A little bit at a time."

The Gamecocks will also have some reliable help in the bullpen, as their top reliever, Curtis Johnson, is expected to receive some work before this weekend's series with Kentucky.

"Curtis feels like he's ready to go, so we'll give him an appearance in the next couple of games going into the Kentucky series," Tanner said.

Carolina will need to bring their best against the two South Carolina squads, as both have performed admirably this season.

Furman brings a record of 11-8 and 1-2 in the Southern Conference to Columbia after a discouraging series loss to The Citadel this weekend.

"Furman has always played us tough," Tanner said. "They had a very good offensive game against The Citadel on Friday. We've always had good games with them. Hopefully, we'll be at our best."

Meanwhile, College of Charleston rebounded this weekend after their loss to South Carolina, sweeping Davidson in a three-game series.

Both games are slated for a 7 pm first pitch.

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