The South Carolina baseball team concluded its fall practice with the three-game Garnet and Black World Series that finished Nov. 5. The series provided fans with a glimpse at what the team could like on the field come spring.
The black team won the first game 8-0, but garnet bounced back in game two and won 8-4. In the deciding game three, garnet came out on top 5-1.
Head coach Mark Kingston said before fall practice started, he wanted to focus on building team chemistry with plenty of new faces joining the squad.
“You can tell how they try to help each other throughout practice," Kingston said during his Nov. 10 media availability. "I very much get the sense that this is a group, whether it’s the pitchers or position players, they’re trying to help each other at all times, they're trying to push each other, they’re holding each other accountable. They're doing all the things that a very good baseball team needs to do, and so that's been a very good aspect of what we’ve seen this fall.”
Charlotte native Eli Jerzembeck was one of the new faces on the team to make a strong impression during the fall. The freshman pitcher threw three strong innings in game two of the series, striking out five batters.
“What role he's in is still to be determined, but he's going to get a lot of big, important innings for us this year, there’s no question," Kingston said. "He's a huge piece of the puzzle.”
Another new addition who received high praise from Kingston was junior Gavin Casas, who transferred in from Vanderbilt. Casas showed off his power throughout the series, including hitting a home run that accounted for half of the black team's runs in game two.
“He was dominant this fall from a power perspective, from a plate discipline perspective. He was everything you hoped a first baseman, a big left-handed hitter could be.” Kingston said.
Casas could potentially be the Gamecocks' first baseman this season, but could see some competition at the spot from junior Jacob Compton. Compton, a transfer from Memphis, is coming off a 2022 season where he hit .291 with 55 RBIs. Kingston said Compton could also fit into the outfield and serve as the DH if the team wants Casas at first base.
Pitchers junior Jack Mahoney and senior Noah Hall faced off in the final game of the series. Mahoney is coming back after not pitching at all last season due to Tommy John surgery. Hall posted a 4.34 ERA and had 78 strikeouts in his debut campaign for the Gamecocks last season, with most of his appearances coming in SEC play.
"In game three of the World Series, (Mahoney) really set the tone, and that was a fun game to watch because it was him versus Noah Hall and two guys obviously that are in the middle of the running for weekend rotation guys," Kingston said. "They were both really good. Jack's fastball was up to 97 this fall and generally sat in that 95-97 range. The slider has gotten better, all his pitches are much better."
Kingston said Mahoney is a "key guy" and leader on the team. If Mahoney can build on what he's shown in the fall, Kingston said he could have a tremendous year.
The Gamecocks now look towards the regular season with play starting March 17 against the Georgia Bulldogs.