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Gamecock Baseball: Underperforming

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SOUTH CAROLINA NOT LIVING UP TO PRESEASON HYPE … BUT STILL TALKING TRASH

The University of South Carolina baseball program saw its fortunes rebound in 2016 … well, up to a point.

The Gamecock program – led by fifth year head coach Chad Holbrook – posted 48-16 record last year, including a 20-9 mark in Southeastern Conference play.  That was Holbrook’s best record since taking over for former coach (and current USC athletics director) Ray Tanner after the 2012 season.

Unfortunately, South Carolina once again failed to advance to the College World Series – marking the fourth year in a row the program failed to make it to Omaha (after winning championships in 2010 and 2011 and finishing as the national runner-up in 2012).

That’s unacceptable for Gamecock fans … and the early returns on the 2017 season aren’t so hot, either.

After beginning this year ranked No. 4 in the nation, Holbrook’s squad has limped out to a 7-5 record.  This weekend, South Carolina dropped two out of three games against its arch-rival – Clemson University.

As a result, South Carolina fell from No. 5 to No. 10 in the Baseball America rankings – while Clemson climbed from No. 15 to No. 9.

The Tigers (8-3) were no doubt motivated by a crass remark made by Gamecock freshman outfielder Carlos Cortes toward Clemson assistant coach Bradley LeCroy following South Carolina’s lone victory in the series on Friday evening.

What did Cortes say?  Who knows … but it was enough to prompt an apology from Holbrook.

“One of our players popped off and embarrassed me and my team and our program,” Holbrook told reporters after the game.  “We’ll handle it and that won’t happen again.”

That’s good … because quite frankly, South Carolina has absolutely zero room to talk at the moment.

Obviously it’s a long season.  And the Gamecocks have plenty of talent to work with.  Junior right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt, for example, has posted a 0.48 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a minuscule .164 batting average this year.  And junior first baseman Matt Williams is currently on a ten-game hitting streak while posting an impressive .487 on-base percentage.

Despite their efforts, though, South Carolina is struggling early … and things don’t get any easier when Southeastern Conference play opens later this month.

Banner via @GamecocksOnline

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