South Carolina (23-7, 5-4 SEC) returns to SEC action this weekend with a three-game series at Tennessee (13-14, 3-6 SEC). First pitch for the opener is 6 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and will be televised on SportSouth. Sunday’s series finale is set for 2 p.m. All three games are available on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game.” It can also be heard at GamecocksOnline.com on the All Access Channel.
Probable Pitching Rotation
South Carolina — Nolan Belcher (Sr. LHP) 5-2, 1.57 ERA, 51.2 IP, 1 BB, 51 SO
Tennessee — Aaron Quillen (Fr. RHP) 1-1, 6.34 ERA, 32.2 IP, 8 BB, 17 SO
South Carolina — Evan Beal (So. RHP) 2-1, 4.30 ERA, 23.0 IP, 8 BB, 33 SO
Tennessee — Nick Williams (Jr. RHP) 1-1, 3.46 ERA, 26.0 IP, 10 BB, 27 SO
South Carolina — TBA
Tennessee — Zack Godley (Sr. RHP) 2-2, 3.04 ERA, 50.1 IP, 20 BB, 48 SO
Tyler Webb Makes His Mark
Senior left-hander Tyler Webb tallied a save in all three victories last weekend vs. Texas A&M. Webb leads the SEC with 11 saves on the year in 15 appearances and a 0.84 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .164 against him. Webb has not allowed a run in 14 of 15 relief appearances this year. Webb ranks third all-time in appearances in school history with 93 and is one short of Michael Roth (2009-12) for second all-time at 94. The record is 102 set by Matt Price (2009-12). Webb has 0.2 perfect innings in the 6-3 win in the series finale as well as 0.2 scoreless in the 6-4 win the day before and two scoreless innings with just one hit allowed in the 3-2 win in the opener.
He has pitched in relief in 81 of those appearances, with 65 relief appearances without allowing a run (80.2 percent). In career relief appearances he is 8-2 with 14 saves.
102 Matt Price 2009-10-11-12
94 Michael Roth 2009-10-11-12
93 Tyler Webb 2010-11-12-13
Belcher Brings It
Senior left-hander Nolan Belcher improved his record to 5-2 with a win the 6-4 victory over Texas A&M. Belcher went 8.1 innings and allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Belcher has gone a span of 47.0 innings without allowing a walk. He leads the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio with 51 strikeouts to just one walk. He is 5-2 with a 1.57 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched. Belcher ranks second in innings pitched, third in strikeouts, tied for fourth in victories and sixth in earned run average in the SEC.
Belcher pitched the first complete game shutout of his career in the 8-0 victory vs. Clemson. Belcher allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out seven batters in the win. Only one base runner reached third base the entire game for the Tigers. It is the first complete game shutout by a Gamecock pitcher since Sam Dyson on May 15, 2010 in a 5-0 win at Arkansas. Belcher’s complete game shutout was also the first by a Gamecock pitcher in the Clemson series since May 4, 1986 when Rodney Richey hurled a four-hit complete game shutout in a 5-0 victory vs. the Tigers at Sarge Frye Field.
Dantzler At Bat
Senior first baseman LB Dantzler is the only Gamecock player to have started all 30 games this year. He hit his team-leading 10th home run in the 9-5 win over Charleston Southern.
Dantzler was the Gamecocks’ leading hitter in the series vs. Texas A&M with a .455 average (5-for-11) with a pair of homers, three runs scored and five RBI. Dantzler had his second two-homer game of the season in the 6-3 win vs. the Aggies. He had a key two-run double that helped spark a rally in the 3-2 win in the series opener vs. Texas A&M. In the 3-1 win at College of Charleston he had a pair of doubles and a RBI.
For the season, Dantzler leads Carolina with a .349 average (37-for-106) with 10 homers and 33 RBI as well as a .450 on-base percentage and .717 slugging percentage. Dantzler ranks second in the SEC in homers as well as third in slugging percentage and sixth in runs batted in. He leads the Gamecocks with eight multi-hit games as well as seven multi-RBI games.
Dantzler was named SEC Player of the Week after the Albany series when he went 9-for-13 (.692) at the plate with two doubles, two homers, six runs scored and 10 RBI. He had 17 total bases for the weekend with a .733 on-base percentage as well as a 1.308 slugging percentage. In an 8-3 win, Dantzler tallied a career-high four hits and career-high five RBI with a home run. He followed that up with a 2-for-4 game with three runs and four RBI in the 14-1 win and closed out the weekend 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI in the 6-4 victory.
Sophomore infielder Joey Pankake is the team’s third best hitter with a .301 average (31-for-103) with 20 runs scored, three doubles, five homers and 21 RBI.
Pankake was named “Louisville Slugger’s” National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and was also named SEC Player of the Week on March 11. Pankake belted four homers, scored seven runs and knocked in nine runs for the Gamecocks the week of March 4-10 and he hit .438 (7-for-16).
Pankake was the second Gamecock player this year to earn SEC Player of the Week honors. LB Dantzler was an honoree by the conference on Feb. 25.
Westmoreland Effective In Relief
Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland had a productive week with two victories and a save out of the bullpen. Westmoreland pitched a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout in the 3-1 win at College of Charleston to earn a save. He followed that up with 3.2 scoreless innings of relief with just three walks allowed and struck out seven batters to earn the win in a 3-2 victory over Texas A&M. His seven strikeouts tied a season-high. He would also earn the victory in the series finale with 4.2 innings of relief allowing just one run on three hits in the 6-3 win.
For the season, Westmoreland is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in 28.0 innings. He has 29 strikeouts to just three walks. Opponents are hitting .194 against him. Westmoreland is currently tied for first in SEC rankings for ERA.
Junior outfielder Graham Saiko returned to the lineup in the Texas A&M series. The Gamecocks are 20-3 with Saiko starting. He had the game-winning RBI in the 3-2 win. He is hitting .273 (21-for-77) with 16 runs scored.
A Bright Spot
Sophomore outfielder Connor Bright hit .364 (4-for-11) with a homer, four runs scored and a pair of RBI in the Texas A&M series. Bright hit his second home run of the season, doubled and scored two runs in the 6-3 win over the Aggies.
Bright has reached base safely in 12 straight games. His average has raised to .293 (22-for-75) with 15 runs scored.
Holmes With The Answer
Senior right-hander Colby Holmes won a predetermined split for his 19th career victory in the 9-5 win over Charleston Southern. He is now 3-2 on the year.
He worked 7.1 innings and allowed just one run on four hits with a season-high eight strikeouts in the 3-1 win over College of Charleston. Holmes was in control from the opening pitch as he scattered just four hits throughout his outing. His eight strikeouts are the most since he tallied a career-high nine last year in the NCAA Regional vs. Manhattan.
Sophomore right-hander Evan Beal was stellar in a start at Missouri. Beal allowed just one run on eight hits in 6.1 innings of work with one walk and a career-high 10 strikeouts in the 4-1 win over Missouri. Beal’s 10 strikeouts are also the most by a Gamecock pitcher this season.
Beal is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 23.0 innings with just eight walks to 33 strikeouts.
Beal was effective in his first start of the year and only his second career start as a Gamecock. Beal worked six scoreless innings in the 2-0 win over Rider with just one hit and two walks allowed while striking out six batters. At one point in the contest, he retired 14 consecutive batters.
Greiner Named To Johnny Bench Award Watch List
South Carolina sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner is one of 48 catchers to be named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List as announced by the Greater Wichita Sports Commission and presented by BaseballSavings.com.
Greiner did not allow a stolen base in a pair of starts vs. Texas A&M this weekend, despite the Aggies coming into the weekend with 46 team stolen bases. Greiner has been phenomenal behind the plate with just six stolen bases allowed on 11 attempts in 20 starts behind the plate.
The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 16, 2013. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 4, 2013. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 15th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 27, 2013.