The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina baseball players gain experience in summer league seasons

<p>FILE—Sophomore infielder Carson Hornung up at bat during a game against Texas on&nbsp;March 13, 2022 at Founders Park. Over the summer, Hornung is playing for the La Crosse Lodgers in the Northwoods League.</p>
FILE—Sophomore infielder Carson Hornung up at bat during a game against Texas on March 13, 2022 at Founders Park. Over the summer, Hornung is playing for the La Crosse Lodgers in the Northwoods League.

Following the conclusion of South Carolina baseball’s season, many players have chosen to play in summer leagues around the country. Here’s a look at all the Gamecocks continuing to play baseball.

Junior first-baseman Jacob Compton, a Memphis transfer, has been playing extremely well for the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes in the prospect league. In 32 games, he’s slashed .305/.374/.559 with eight home runs and 28 RBI. In addition, he’s been solid defensively with a .995 fielding percentage and only one error. 

Compton is one of nine transfers joining the Gamecocks in 2023. While he hasn’t been able to comment on the transfers, head coach Mark Kingston said he’s excited for next year. 

“We’re going to have a tremendous amount of good players coming back, but the amount of players coming in, and again we can't talk specifically about how the transfer has been to us, but it's been very, very good to us over the last month,” Kingston said in a June 28 press conference.

In his two seasons at South Carolina, redshirt sophomore outfielder David Cromer barely saw the field. In 2021, he didn’t play at all, and last year he had one at-bat. So, Cromer has been playing with the Lexington County Blowfish to earn some playing time. 

In 32 plate appearances, Cromer hit 156/.289/.156 with five hits and 17 strikeouts. At this point in the season, he hasn’t recorded an extra base hit yet. 

Sophomore infielder Carson Hornung batted .320/.431/.504 with the La Crosse Lodgers in the Northwoods League. In 125 plate appearances, he’s tallied 40 hits with two home runs and 23 RBI. He’s currently second in the league with 13 doubles.

After a fine freshman campaign, utility man Talmadge LeCroy has struggled in summer league action. Missing 22 games of the 2022 season, he has only played with the Blowfish for 19 games so far. In 52 plate appearances, he’s slashed .135/.270/.135. 

LeCroy was one of many freshmen in the Gamecocks’ typical starting lineup. Earlier this season, LeCroy said it was a challenge to compete in the SEC as a younger player.

“It’s hard but it’s what's expected though,” LeCroy said. “Nobody came here to fail, and you just come here, and people got your back through thick and thin. It’s expected to do good and it’s a long way to go.”

Sophomore catcher Cole Messina has also been playing in the Northwoods League, with the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders. He didn't accumulate many at-bats with the Gamecocks, resulting in a subpar season. However, he's found his rhythm so far this summer with the Dock Spiders. 

In 31 games, Messina batted .268/.402/.454 with three home runs and 27 RBI. He earned the Northwoods League Player of the Night for his seven RBI performance on June 26. 

Messina's teammate, sophomore outfielder Evan Stone is playing with the Dock Spiders as well. In 25 games, Stone hit .292/.379/.337 with 13 RBI. Similarly to his first year at South Carolina, he's been quick on the base paths, stealing seven bases in eight attempts. 

Stone saw his playing time increase throughout the season with the Gamecocks, as he proved he could hit and cover a lot of ground in the outfield.

"Just from the hitting standpoint, just do whatever I can to get on and just move around on the base path. And then on the defensive standpoint, just go out there and lock down the outfield," Stone said in an April 29 press conference. 

Senior right-hander Brett Thomas spent the majority of last season working his way back from a torn ulnar collateral ligament inside his elbow and only appeared in 10 games on the mound. In an effort to get back to playing consistently, he joined the Blowfish for the summer. In his lone appearance, he pitched four innings, giving up four hits and four walks but only allowing one run. He also struck out two batters. 

Participating in the Cape Cod League with the Chatham Anglers, junior right-hander Ricky Williams has pitched well this summer. In four games, he's pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two runs and walked six batters. 

Williams previously played at Clemson for the last two seasons before committing to South Carolina this offseason. 

All of these players will be returning to South Carolina next season, with fall practices starting at the beginning of the school year.