At this point, what can I say? This is unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. I said it last night, and I’ll say it again. As a writer, I’m supposed to be good at putting words together to describe what I’ve seen. And I can’t do it. As hard as I try, I just can’t do it. There seems to be nothing that this team can’t do, no obstacle it can’t overcome, no opponent it can’t beat. Even when our pitchers aren’t at their best, the rest of the staff picks them up. Even when our hitters aren’t seeing the ball well, someone somewhere is able to string a few hits or walks or bunts or whatever together and give us enough to win. Here’s a few quick thoughts on the huge win, with more analysis to come tomorrow
South Carolina’s patient approach paid off
We said it before all three games against Arkansas–South Carolina has to break through against the Hogs starter after taking patient at-bats, getting his pitch count up, and seeing as many pitches as possible each time they came to the plate. And, for the second time in as many days, the Gamecocks listened. Starter D.J. Baxendale was chased from the game with one out in the 5th inning after throwing 84 pitches. He issued five walks while striking out only two. He allowed four hits and was responsible for each of the Gamecocks’ first two runs. He left with the bases loaded, and although South Carolina wasn’t able to capitalize on the situation during the rest of the inning, they did what they needed to do to put themselves in position to win the game. Once again, the pitching staff picked up its members that were having off days, the defense played solid, error-free baseball, and the offense did just enough to win.
Starting Holmes was the right decision
Many people questioned Ray Tanner’s decision to start Colby Holmes in today’s game. But even though he didn’t perform as well as most Gamecock fans had hoped, starting him was still the right move to make. Ray Tanner has proven again and again that he’s a dark magician. There’s no reason to second-guess any decision he makes, ever. Yesterday should have proven that. Heck, deciding to start Michael Roth, a situational left-hander who had nearly as many appearances as innings pitched, against Clemson in a 2010 CWS elimination game should have proven that. Tanner undoubtedly hoped for 5 innings from Holmes. He got 2. But Tyler Webb was able to go for 4 innings, about what he’s used to, and Price was able to close down the Razorbacks over the final 3 frames. Price even earned his fifth win all-time at the College World Series, a new record that he now holds by himself. There were no other logical choices to start the game (Evan Beal hasn’t had any notable lengthy outings in weeks, and Nolan Belcher hasn’t been consistent enough to put in a situation like this). Tanner knew exactly what he was doing, and it worked out just like he hoped.
We’ve got to quit running ourselves out of innings
It’s happened seemingly a million times this season, and it happened twice again tonight. The Gamecocks’ baserunning blunders ended two innings. I keep thinking that at some point it’s going to come back and haunt them, but thus far they still find ways to win games. Against Arizona, can Carolina afford to allow baserunning mistakes to squelch scoring chances? Probably not. Honestly, it’s scary to think how good South Carolina COULD be this season if we could put it all together–stop running ourselves out of innings, get a few more timely hits, and play their best baseball in stretches of more than three or four games at a time. But the funny thing about baseball is that it’s a funny game. You don’t always have to be at your best to win. Sometimes, you can win just by being the most cohesive team. And that’s something that South Carolina does better than anybody in the country.