April 28, 2007

Gamecocks close it out

Jeff Jeffords nailed down the save as the Gamecocks win 4-1 to even the series.

Starter Arik Hempy (4-1) worked a season-high seven 1/3 innings scattering seven hits and allowing one run. He struck out seven and walked two in his 93 pitch outing.

Alabama starter Miers Quigley (4-4) has been given 0,1,1, and now 1 run in run support in his last four decisions, all losses.The southpaw did notch nine strikeouts in his eight inning stint. He allowed nine hits and four runs - three earned,

Defense on the corners

South Carolina has gotten very good defense up the middle with second baseman Travis Jones and shortstop Reese Havens. They got big web gems in the seventh to stop an Alabama rally.

UA's Jeff Texada led off the seventh with a bunt single and Greg Paiml followed with a single. After a sac bunt advanced the runners, Kyle Moore lined to third with James Darnell making the quick reflexes stab for the second out. After a walk loaded the bases, Brandon May popped down the right field line. The first baseman Smoak made a running catch with his back to the plate to end the threat.

James Darnell just homered to stretch the lead to 4-1.

Third time through

South Carolina finally got a bead on Miers Quigley in the sixth as the order rolled around for the third time.

Andrew Crisp slammed a solo home run to left - his fourth of the season. Later in the inning, Justin Smoak smacked one off the wall in center and Phil Disher singled. Smoak scored on a Trent Kline fielder's choice.

Gamecocks lead 3-1 in the top of the seventh. Hempy still cruising.

Halfway Home

Alabama tied the game in the fourth on singles by Brandon May and Kent Matthes and a Matt Bentley sac fly.

Both starters have been on their games thus far. SC's Hempy has scattered four hits while UA's Quigley has allowed just two hits.

Hempy is making his seventh start of the season after an arm injury caused him to miss the end of last season and the start of this one. In those six starts this season, he has logged just over 26 innings. He has been going deeper into his starts each week and may be ready for a stretched-out effort today. He hasn't allowed many good swings as the Tide hitters have scuffled to mount much of an attack.

Quigley has a lot of late life on his pitches and as a result has not given up many hard hit balls either. Quigley has rebounded nicely after getting knocked out in the second inning at Auburn last Friday.

We're tied at 1 in the bottom of the fifth.

Gamecocks strike first

South Carolina scored an unearned run in the second on Trent Kline's RBI double.

Gamecock starter Arik Hempy has been very sharp notching three Ks and two groundouts, one a double-play.

We had to the bottom of the third with the Gamecocks up 1-0.

A Hall of Famer

Alabama honored Joe Sewell, a former Crimson Tide player and coach who was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame this season. Sewell, whose name is on Alabama's baseball facility, was known in his fourteen year big league career as a good stick man. Sewell, who was Lou Gehrig's Yankee roommate, set the MLB record for fewest strikeouts in a season with four and career 114.

He returned to Alabama in 1964 at the age of 65 to coach for five seasons before the state's mandatory retirement age ended his career in 1970.

On the field, USC is going with Arik Hempy (3-1/2.05) while Alabama goes with Miers Quigley (4-3/3.76).

April 27, 2007

FINAL in T-town

FINAL in T-town and the locals are happy. Will Stroup slammed the door getting the final eight outs of the game to lift Alabama to a 10-5 victory. The eight run sixth was obviously the difference as Alabama impoved to 24-19 and 9-10. South Carolina fell to 32-12 and 10-9.

Tommy Hunter (5-3) got the win. Harris Honeycutt (7-3) took the loss.

The teams continue the series Saturday at 4 CT. Arik Hempy goes for SC against UA's Miers Quigley.

Hunter implodes

I lost my keys one time. It wasn't much fun. That must be how Tommy Hunter feels right now after losing the strike zone with four walks and hit batsman in one inning - three of which came with the bases loaded.

After Alabama's big rally, South Carolina scored three run on just one hit. They loaded the bases with one out on a Phil Disher single and a pair of walks. Hunter walked his third consecutive hitter to force in a run and then followed by hitting Jones to send another run home. After his fourth walk of the inning forced in the SC run of the frame, Alabama's Jim Wells pulled Hunter in favor of Will Stroup. Stroup coaxed a popup and a groundout to end the threat.

Alabama leads as we stretch 10-5.

Tidal Wave

Well, so much for our tie game. Alabama sent 12 men to the plate and scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Harris Honeycutt hit the showers after just five innings. He allowed just five hits but did struggle some with his control. He allowed a hit to Alex Avila and walked the next hitter Kent Matthes. After starting Matt Bentley with ball one, SC coach Ray Tanner had seen enough. Will Atwood came in and finished the walk to load the bases.

Brandon May hit a two-RBI single. Greg Paiml had a run-scoring single. Kyle Moore got another run in with a safety squeeze and then Emeel Salem followed with another RBI single. After a Brandon Belcher double and Alex Avila hit batsman loaded the bases, Tanner came and got Atwood. Curtis Johnson then allowed a three-run double to Kent Matthes.

The rally came after South Carolina tied the game in the top of the frame on a long Travis Jones home run.

Alabama leads 10-2 after six.

Solo Singers - err Dingers

Check out this stat: Of Alabama's 40 home runs this season, 29 are solo.

Alex Avila slammed a solo home run in the fourth, his eighth home run of the season.

Both pitchers are still in command as the Gamecocks have three hits and Alabama has just a pair.

2-1 Tide entering bottom of the fifth.

Not a lot of good swings so far

Exactly zero good swings for Alabama off Harris Honeycutt. The SC righty struck out the side in the second.

Tommy Hunter has been pretty sharp himself. He did allow a bloop hit in the first followed by infield hit, a walk, and a sac fly. He finally allowed a hard hit ball as James Darnell took him to the deepest part of the ballpark before Emeel Salem donned boots and cap and scaled the wall to make the catch.

Alabama just tied the game in the third on a leadoff four-pitch walk, a bunt single, a sac bunt, a sac fly.

We're at 1-1 mid 3rd.

Tide has their bullet ready

Alabama is like Barney Fife. They have one bullet and they are firing it tonight.

Its a big bullet. A 6'2" 260 pound righthanded bullet named Tommy Hunter. Alabama needs a Herculean effort from the Judo Black belt Hunter as they try to snap a rough losing streak. They also lost Saturday starter Bernard Robert who was dismissed from the team yesterday.

South Carolina is trying to rebound from a series lost last weekend at Ole Miss and a midweek rivalry loss to Clemson. They go with Harris Honeycutt who is trying to rebound from a pair of losses the past two weeks.

March 23, 2007

TKO in Starkville

Twenty runs, twenty five hits. If this was a fight, it would have been stopped for brutality. Mississippi State entered the game with the lofty offensive numbers, but South Carolina was the team that put on the hitting display in their 20-3 victory.

"It is unfortunate you don't get a carryover on a night like this, said South Carolina coach Ray Tanner. "We were extremely fortunate. When the game started out, (MSU starter Aaron) Weatherford was low-to-mid nineties and it looked pretty difficult. All of a sudden we scratch a few and then get a big hit. We swung it certainly as well as we can swing it."

Despite coming in with just a .206 average, Reese Havens went 5-6 with three doubles and four RBI raising his average to 58 points to 264.

"I just wanted to stay aggressive," Havens said. "I had a decent midweek game. I felt like I had been seeing it a little better. It came together tonight."

"I told him a couple of weeks ago, he wasn't hitting anything extremely hard and was getting anything to fall in either. That is a bad combination. I said, maybe you'll be an SEC guy this year and get all your hits in the league. He has done pretty good so far."

Uncle, throw in the towel, do something folks

The hits just keep on coming in Starkville where South Carolina has 20 runs on 25 hits. Reese Havens has five of them to raise his batting average 58 points.

It is 20-3 in the bottom of the ninth as I head down for postgame.

I've seen a lot of good games. This ain't one of them.

The locals have seen enough

The big crowd of 6529 (paid) have seen enough. With the Gamecocks up 15-3 in the eighth, it makes a lot of us wish we were in Oxford, Auburn, Knoxville, or Fayetteville where the game is close.

MSU just made another defensive miscue - they have two charged errors and a couple of more that weren't charged - and the fans here and getting frustrated with it.

Still, a beautiful night at the ballpark is hard to beat even if the play on the field hasn't exactly been sparkling.

Moon-shot

James Darnell just hit one to the state line. It was a monster blast to left-center that scored two more. The dinger was Darnell's seventh of the season. Trent Kline followed with a laser to right-center for a triple ending the evening for MSU starter Aaron Weatherford.

Greg Houston is on the mound for the Bulldogs. The first he faced, Justin Smoak who had an RBI single. Then Phil Disher smacked the second home run of the inning for give USC a 10-2 lead.

Is there a better name for a slugger?

Justin Smoak never had a chance. He had to be an athlete. Either a hard-throwing pitcher, a line-drive pounding hitter, or a hot-shooting hoops star.

As it is, the South Carolina sophomore is Smoaking opposing pitching. He just RBI doubled and scored in the fifth to push his Gamecocks out to a 5-2 advantage in the bottom of the fifth.

As much as it hurts to say it ...

An umpire just got a close call right.

My granddad could really light up an umpire. Granted, it was usually in front of a tv instead at the park, but he could come up with some great stuff. If he was here tonight, he would have ripped third base umpire Steve Dew.

Here's the reset: High pop fly down the leftfield line. Gamecock outfielder Robbie Grinestaff drifts over into foul territory and drops the fly. He nonchalantly picks up the ball while the batter races into second. Everyone assumed it was a foul ball except the umpire Dew, who called it fair. SC coach Ray Tanner came out to argue, but the play stood as a two-base error.

One of the advantages of being in the pressbox is the replay capabilities. While the folks in the stands could not see the replay on the giant jumbo-tron since it was a controversial play, they can play it in the pressbox for the official scorer.

We got several looks and while the fielder drifted into foul territory, the ball would have dropped fair.

In the middle of the fourth, South Carolina leads 3-2.

That lead didn't last

South Carolina matched them in the second on Reese Havens’ RBI single. Another run scored on the hit when centerfielder Mark Goforth misplayed the ball.

2-2 in the bottom of the second.

Again, just a beautiful night for baseball.

Will offense be the story in Starkville?

Mississippi State entered tonight's game with a .374 team batting average with four of tonight's starters hitting over .400. South Carolina entered with 36 home runs in their 22 games. So one would expect loads of offense?

Except for the pitchers, that is. South Carolina starter Harris Honeycutt is 5-0 with a 0.86 ERA. MSU ace Aaron Weatherford is 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA. Something has to give.

In the first MIssissippi State got a leadoff walk followed by a triple by freshman Brandon Turner. Turner would also score giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

That is where we are on a picturesque night at Dudy Noble Stadium. Nice crowd, plenty of smoke coming from the grills beyond the outfield walls, and a premium on parking here tonight.

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