Gamecocks look to rebound from last series’ sweep
The USC baseball team has a sign hanging in its clubhouse that reads, “A man knows not his own strength until he has met adversity.”
Coach Chad Holbrook told reporters Wednesday that now is the ideal time for his players to read that sign. After being swept by the Razorbacks in a home series last weekend, the Gamecocks will look to bounce back in a three-game series against the Aggies, which begins Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Carolina Stadium.
“We’ve met [adversity],” Holbrook said. “Let’s see how strong we are.”
South Carolina (19-6, 2-4 SEC) will send sophomore Evan Beal to the mound tonight after he was knocked around last Friday night, allowing eight runs without making it out of the fourth inning against Arkansas. Senior Nolan Belcher and freshman Jack Wynkoop will start the remaining two games for USC.
When asked if senior Colby Holmes has been considered for a spot in the weekend rotation, Holbrook said he has always been part of the discussion. Holmes will not take the mound this weekend, after throwing 103 pitches against the College of Charleston Tuesday night and earning his second win of the season.
Still, the coach said multiple roles are still being considered for the senior. Even if he does not become a weekend starter, he could be called upon as a reliever in conference games.
“He’s a senior. He’s a veteran. We like his composure and his experience and his maturity, all those things,” Holbrook said.
Texas A&M (18-8, 5-1) comes to Columbia after winning a series against Ole Miss last weekend and sweeping Georgia to open conference play. Holbrook said the Aggies’ pitching staff has power arms and an elite closer, and he called shortstop Mikey Reynolds “one of the better players in our league.” Reynolds enters the weekend with a .426 batting average.
Holbrook said he saw more panic than disappointment in the clubhouse after last weekend, but he told his team one weekend series cannot be allowed to dictate USC’s entire season. South Carolina got off to a slow start in conference play last year as well, winning just one of its first six SEC games.
“You just have to play your next game and try to win your next game,” Holbrook said.
According to Holbrook, the Gamecocks need to dig themselves out of the hole they created for themselves last weekend. But with less than half of the season over, USC still has a lot of important games to play.
“We ask our players to handle failure,” Holbrook said. “We ask our players to have an even keel, not get too high when things are going great and not get too low when things are going wrong … Try to learn from it and get ready to go the next go-around.”
Injury note: Sophomore pitcher Jordan Montgomery played catch Monday and Tuesday with pitching coach Jerry Myers and tolerated it well, according to Holbrook. He will throw a bullpen session Friday. If it goes well, Holbrook will announce his status next week.
Montgomery has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his throwing arm since his start against Clemson on March 1.
Junior Graham Saiko may also play this weekend after taking batting practice for the first time in 10 days Wednesday. Saiko has an injured left wrist.