Carolina travels down I-26 on Tuesday to take on The Citadel at Joe Riley Park. On Wednesday, Davidson will come down I-77 to visit Sarge Frye Field. Both teams present reunions of sorts for Ray Tanner, who has worked with the opposing coaches before. Bulldogs assistant coach Stuart Lake began his collegiate coaching career in Columbia, where he coached under Tanner from 1999-2002. Davidson head coach Dick Cooke was Tanner's pitching coach when Tanner helmed the 2003 USA National Baseball Team.
"You're playing midweek games against coaches I have great respect for, and we hope we can play well," Tanner said.
The Gamecocks are coming off an encouraging weekend series against Kentucky. After being routed in the first game 15-3, Carolina responded by taking the next two games to move into a tie for second place in the SEC East. Thanks to their weekend play, James Darnell and Phil Disher both picked up honors for their performances.
Darnell was named National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball for his three home run performance on Saturday. It was the second time this season Darnell had three homers in a game, the first time a Gamecock has ever hit three home runs in more than one game.
Disher was named SEC Player of the week for hitting a home run and driving in seven runs including a game-winning eight inning single on Sunday. Disher is hitting .387 in SEC games, tops on the team. His 17 RBIs in league play are best in the SEC.
The weekend success goes out the window during the week, however. Playing against what could be considered lesser competition, the Gamecocks have been less impressive. Carolina is just 5-3 in midweek games, and has scored three or fewer runs in fours of those games. In weekend play, Carolina has scored as few as three runs just twice in 17 games.
"You'd like to have 12 hits every game with two home runs, but that's in a perfect world. Baseball is that way. Our guys have good approaches and we compete offensively but sometimes you don't get the runs or the hits that you want. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat to the pitcher."
He also emphasized that there is no lack of focus when it comes to the midweek games. It would surprise no one if players had a little more trouble getting up for a game against Presbyterian or Yale than they do against Clemson or Kentucky, but Tanner refuses to let that happen.
"That would be an excuse, and I would be livid if that was the case," he said. "Our guys are too mature and too veteran to be in that capacity. In college baseball, anybody can beat anybody. It's foolish to not have the kind of awareness that you need in midweek games. There is so much more parity now than ever before."
After losing key reliever Curtis Johnson to injury, Carolina is forced to reorganize its bullpen. Nick Godwin has solidified himself as the first midweek starter, but behind him there is uncertainty. Sam Dyson started against College of Charleston last week, but will not get the start against Davidson this week.
"The plans right now are to use him in relief of Godwin, and then both of them travel to Georgia," Tanner explained.
The starter for Wednesday night has not been named, but Tanner said Sean Wideberg is likely to get the nod. Wideberg has appeared in five games, as a reliever, but has not gotten a start yet. Craig Thomas, who has started two games and come in from the bullpen in six others, is likely to remain in the bullpen.
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