2012 South Carolina Baseball: Lessons Learned from the Kentucky Series

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South Carolina went to Kentucky to begin SEC play.  The Gamecocks were swept 3 games to none by scores of 3-4, 3-4 and 3-6.

On Friday Carolina took the lead 3-0, but a combination of walks and and timely hitting led to two runs in the bottom of the 7th.  The Gamecocks got out of the jam, but couldn't add any insurance runs.  In the bottom of the ninth, a Wildcat was hit by a pitch and another hit a walk of home run.

On Saturday Carolina built a 3-2 lead, but Kentucky quickly tied the game at three in the 6th when a lead off batter was walked and came around to score.  In the seventh the Wildcats took the lead behind a single, sacrifice and double.  They then loaded the bases, but couldn't score more.  In the ninth, the Gamecocks got Michael Roth to third with one out, but back to back strike outs ended the game.

On Sunday South Carolina took a 3-2 lead for a third straight day, this time in the top of the fifth inning.  Kentucky tied the game in the bottom of the fifth and then broke it open in bottom of the sixth with 3 runs.  Gamecock pitching didn't walk or hit anyone; the Wildcats just hammered out hit after hit.

Stars of the Series….There are no stars when the team gets swept.

What to Take Away from the Weekend…This sucks; there are no two ways about it.  Gamecock fans aren’t used to having their baseball team get swept by Kentucky, and some are panicking.  There’s no need for that.  This year’s team is going to be different from last year’s team.  They are going to have to forge their own identity and find their own way to win games.  They haven’t quite done that yet.  Some roles in the bullpen need to be claimed, and more runs need to be scored.  After that, the wins will take care of themselves.  This is still a very talented team with a plenty of veteran leadership.  Right now, they are a young team who needs some more time to develop.  Given Ray Tanner’s track record, there’s no reason to think they won’t.

Up next…The Gamecocks are busy.  On Tuesday they play Furman in Greenville.  On Wednesday they return home to play Wofford.  Thursday through Saturday, the Florida Gators come to town.

Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.