The Daily Gamecock

Holbrook not phased by tough stretch


The past few weeks have been a tumultuous period for the South Carolina baseball team.

Before the Gamecocks picked up a much-needed series win over No. 5 Vanderbilt last weekend, South Carolina had lost 12 of their last 19 games, and head coach Chad Holbrook was taking a fair amount of criticism.

After South Carolina’s series-clinching win over Vanderbilt on Saturday, the head coach was asked about what he had learned about himself as a baseball coach as the Gamecocks went through a rough patch.

Holbrook gave a simple answer: “To wrap myself around my players and my coaches and to just try to continue to get better each and every day.” 

But have South Carolina’s recent struggles been unbearable for Holbrook? No. After all, baseball is just a game.

“I’m an awfully lucky guy,” Holbrook said. “People say, ‘Is this the hardest thing you’ve ever been through?’ I had to tell my two-year-old kid he had cancer. This is a piece of cake. OK?”

To give some context, Holbrook’s now 12-year-old son Reece is cancer-free.

Holbrook also noted his gratitude for his current job and the people he works for.

“I work for a great university, great people,” Holbrook said. “Ray Tanner, Kevin O'Connell, President Pastides — they are the best."

While South Carolina has failed to live up to the preseason expectations set by both people inside and outside of the program, the Gamecocks are hoping that their good weekend of play could possibly turn the season around.

“Still a lot of baseball left and we’re still not a perfect team, but again, my players, they gave me all they had these last 18 innings, and I’m proud of them and if we can do that for [15] more games, then we’ll be OK,” Holbrook said. “I’ll be all right, and maybe we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”

Pitchers step up

Following last Thursday’s 12-0 loss to the Commodores, South Carolina sophomore pitcher Taylor Widener left Carolina Stadium disappointed. Although he didn’t pitch at all in the game, the Aiken, South Carolina native was upset with how a team could come and hit that well against the Gamecocks.

“I was pretty angry,” Widener said. “It sucks being at your home park and getting beat 12 to nothing.”

As bad as South Carolina’s series opener went, the Gamecock pitchers buckled down and allowed just four runs over the next 18 innings against Vanderbilt.

We definitely had a chip on our shoulders coming into this weekend, both the pitching staff and the hitters,” Widener said. “It was a big turnaround from the past couple games.”

Fiori could enter starting rotation

Junior Vince Fiori has spent most of his time at South Carolina as a relief pitcher, but with sophomore Wil Crowe suffering a season-ending elbow injury last week, Holbrook was forced to use Fiori as his starter on Thursday.

Although South Carolina lost by 12 runs that night, Fiori pitched 5.1 innings and only gave up one earned run.

Because of his solid performance in his first start of the season, Fiori is set to remain a fixture in South Carolina’s weekend rotation, although he’s open to whatever Holbrook needs him to do.

I try to show them I pitch the best that I can and to the best of my ability every time I'm out there,” Fiori said. “If that's starting or relieving, I'll do anything I can to help this team win."

Improving NCAA tournament hopes

South Carolina has made the NCAA tournament every season since 2000, but the Gamecocks will most likely have to fight until the end to make the field this year.

Before taking two out of three games from the Commodores, South Carolina had lost four consecutive series against SEC foes.

However, the Gamecocks’ series win over Vanderbilt, the No. 5 team in the country, certainly helped South Carolina’s postseason chances.

Kendall Rogers, an editor and writer for, tweeted the following on Saturday.

“Boy, @GamecockBasebll gets a HUGE series win (1st time in 5 weeks) over #Vandy with a 3-2 win. SC right back in the hunt, folks.”

What’s next

South Carolina will begin a four-game road stretch with a nonconference matchup with Furman at Fluor Field in Greenville on Tuesday.

The Gamecocks hosted the Paladins at Carolina Stadium on Feb. 17 and won 5-2.

After facing Furman, South Carolina will begin a three-game series with Tennessee on Friday.


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