South Carolina will open SEC Tournament play against Florida, the same team they just faced to conclude the 2022 regular season.
Both teams will be forced to lay everything on the line as they will face each other in the single elimination round of the tournament. South Carolina most likely will need to win the entire thing in order to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Obviously, the Gators prove a difficult first opponent, as they flattened the Gamecocks over the weekend in game one and two in bone crushing fashion. Carolina’s bats looked virtually non-existent after the 5th on Friday (excluding game 3) and their pitching was picked apart on Thursday and Saturday.
Even Noah Hall, who has been red hot lately, struggled early and was pulled after only three innings. Although the first leg of Carolina’s journey to an SEC championship appears insurmountable, the Gamecock’s chances of taking down the Gators may not be as unlikely as they seem.
In order to win however, Carolina will need to play their cards right and bring the intensity that we have inconsistently seen this season.
Sanders and Becker Have To Be Special
Probably the best thing to come out of the series against Florida was the fact that Carolina salvaged game three with Will Sanders pitching only one inning in the process.
South Carolina will have their Ace fully rested and starting against the Gators, with Matthew Becker rested and available as well, as he only pitched two innings on Saturday. If Sanders plays like Sanders today, then Carolina should find themselves in good shape early on.
When Kingston decides to go to the pen however, and assuming that he does go to Matthew Becker, then Carolina would obviously need a good performance out of him. Although Becker has put up several good showings as a closer, he certainly has had his share of poor ones.
In the case that South Carolina is forced to go deep into the pen in the final innings of today’s ball game, their odds of winning could very well be in jeopardy.
If Sanders and Becker (two guys you would want to see when you’re forced into this situation) put up a notable performance, then you will see the Gamecocks in the next round.
Plain and Simple Runs Need to Be Scored
The Gamecocks struggled to put up runs the entire series against the Gators. South Carolina put up only 9 runs to the Gator’s 23 over the weekend.
If the Gamecocks have the same trouble bringing runners home the way they did this weekend, I can confidently say they will not win. With the strength of your pitching rotation rested and ready, you can afford to fall back on them a little bit. However, if Carolina struggles to score three and four runs, which they have done repeatedly after exceptional pitching performances, they will lose without a doubt.
After several games with the bats quiet, I would like to believe that the Gamecocks are due for a redhot performance behind the plate, as it seems to be the pattern of this season. However, at the same time, predicting any type of play from this baseball team can be damn near impossible.
Carolina Needs to Bring the Intensity for Nine Straight Innings
Although this objective seems rather obvious, the amount of energy players have exerted over the past five games appears to be lacking more than ever.
I don’t know about you, but it appears players have shown instances of half-assed effort throughout the last few games that give off a “eh… the season’s already over” mentality.
Don’t believe me? Rewatch the UNC Charlotte game especially, or even game one and two of Florida. Whatever is going on in the Carolina dugout, needs to cease immediately or else the season ends here.
Carolina needs to bring the same intensity they did in games against Texas, Vandy, UNC, Ole Miss, even Texas A&M if they want a shot at winning today.
We all know it’s in there and we need it now more than ever. Let’s see that fire again!
Are Carolina’s chances of beating the Gators good? Not exactly, but they certainly aren’t bad either.
Carolina will have the chance to show Florida a gamecock baseball team they have yet to see. The only chance they can accomplish this idea however is if they show up as that team.
If the Yardcocks play as a complete team on a mission, they’ll certainly make the second round. I, for one, would love to watch more Carolina baseball after today.
So let’s go boys! Grab us a win and let’s stay alive!