#6 South Carolina Baseball Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
South Carolina College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview

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The South Carolina Gamecocks head into a new era under new head coach Chad Holbrook looking for their fourth consecutive appearance in the championship round of the College World Series. The move to Holbrook should be a smoother than a typical transition as he was part of current athletic director Ray Tanner’s staff in the 2012 season. There is an ample amount of talent returning across the board even with having to replace veteran star pitcher Michael Roth.

2012: 49-20, 18-11
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chad Holbrook

Field Players:
This should be a pretty balanced offensive squad that returns in 2013 for South Carolina. In the power department, L.B. Dantzler had 10 homeruns and 48 runs batted in during the 2012 season. Tanner English provides plenty of speed and contact as he stole 12 bases, had 74 hits, and scored 43 runs so he should be able to set the table nicely for Coach Holbrook this season. Freshman All-American Grayson Grenier is another key power hitting threat who is returning and hopes to improve on his six long balls in 2012. The key offensively will be increasing the team batting average some from. 265 in 2012, which is solid but wasn’t dangerous enough in the championship series against Arizona.

The task of replacing Michael Roth, who was the heart and soul of the pitching rotation, will not be easy. Roth was 9-1 with a 2.43 earned run average and always seemed to come up big in recent postseason runs to Omaha. However, there is plenty of talented starting pitching in the weekend rotation that has a great opportunity to step up and replace the loss of Roth without missing a beat. The two main weekend starters who should anchor things are Colby Holmes and Jordan Montgomery.   Holmes is a senior right-handed pitcher who is a pre-season All-American with seven wins in 2012.  The big key for Holmes will be to continue on from last season when he had great control walking only 17 batters in 709. 2 innings. Montgomery is a sophomore and is also a preseason All-American who went 6-1 last season.  He had pinpoint control as well as he only walked 10 batters in 74.2 innings pitched. The other key question is who will be the closer?  Matt Price, who will probably go down as the best closer in program history, is gone. Evan Beal had five saves in 2012 and should get the first crack at locking down that role this season.

Who to Watch:
A combination of junior college players and high-school standouts compile this incoming class of newcomers for Coach Holbrook. On the junior college side, Graham Saiko and Zack Smith should be in the mix for playing time right away and should help offset losses like Christian Walker and Evan Marzilli. Saiko was a member 2012 All-Panhandle Conference First Team and also was named Defensive Player of the Year. Smith should bring some power as he hit nine homeruns at USC Sumter in 2012. From the high school ranks Jack Wynkoop and Curt Britt should be in the mix immediately for midweek starts or key roles out of the bullpen. Position players Ryan Ripken, the son of Cal Ripken Jr., along with Max Schrock a 28th round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, appear to be players who could step in from the opener and play every day.

Final Projection:
The Gamecocks overall have a fairly balanced schedule in both non-conference and in conference. Liberty, a tough mid-major squad, will be an interesting opening weekend test at home for South Carolina. Also, the first week in March, a battle for Palmetto State supremacy resumes as the Gamecocks will head to Doug Kingsmore Stadium to take on an always tough Clemson squad. The conference schedule is highlighted by a home series against Arkansas March 22 thru 24. This could be a College World Series preview as the Razorbacks are loaded in 2013. South Carolina also has a couple tough road trips to LSU and Florida. The culture of excellence is still in place with 25 returning letter winners for Coach Holbrook. Thus, when combined with an incredibly rabid fan base and depth offensively, the Gamecocks once again should be viewed as a top contender for the programs third national title in four seasons.

Projected Postseason: CWS

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: L.B. Dantzler, IF, 263
Hits: Tanner English, OF, 74
Home Runs: L.B. Dantzler, OF, 10
RBIs: L.B. Dantzler, IF, 48
Runs: Tanner English, OF, 43
Stolen Bases: Tanner English, OF, 12

Wins: Colby Holmes, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Colby Holmes, P, 79.2
Strikeouts: Colby Holmes, P, 65
Saves: Evan Beal, P, 5

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#90 Forrest Koumas

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#92 Curt Britt


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