Tuesday, April 21, 2015

State schedule, April 21

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Francis Marion at Barton, 3 p.m.
USC Upstate at Presbyterian, 3 p.m.
Charleston Southern at The Citadel, 6 p.m.
College of Charleston at Georgia Southern, 6 p.m.
Southern Wesleyan at Anderson, 6 p.m.
Winthrop at Davidson, 6 p.m.
Clemson at Georgia, 7 p.m. SEC Network
South Carolina vs. Furman, Fluor Field, Greenville, 7 p.m.

Monday, April 20, 2015

News digest, honors, poll updates, April 20

Furman players & coaches get clipped for charity
Furman's baseball program holds its annual fundraiser to battle childhood cancers in conjunction with Tuesday's game against South Carolina at Fluor Field.  Players and coaches will have their heads shaved to support the Vs Cancer Foundation. Furman led the nation last season. The Paladins have already topped this year's goal of $10,000 by more than $4,000.

Online donations can be made by clicking on the link below.

Official NCAA RPI
1. Dallas Baptist.  34. College of Charleston. 39. Coastal Carolina. 55. South Carolina. 69. Clemson. 97. Winthrop. 112. Presbyterian. 138. The Citadel.  139. Wofford. 167. Charleston Southern. 208. Furman. 234. USC Upstate.


1. LSU. 23. College of Charleston (unranked last week). 24. Coastal Carolina (down from 18).

Baseball America
1. LSU. 20. College of Charleston (up from 22). Dropped out: Coastal Carolina.

Collegiate Baseball DI
1. LSU. 27. College of Charleston (up from 30).

1. LSU. 20. College of Charleston (up from 22). 25. Coastal Carolina. (down from 20). 27. South Carolina (no change).

1. LSU. 22. College of Charleston (up from 29). Dropped out: Coastal Carolina.

1. LSU

1. Texas A&M

Collegiate Baseball DII
1. Franklin Pierce.

Southeast Region

1. Catawba. 5. Newberry. 9. Erskine. 10. USC Aiken.

* Anderson has sent out preview notes on its Tuesday night home game with Southern Wesleyan.

* Clemson has issued preview notes for its Tuesday visit to Georgia.

* Presbyterian  has released notes previewing its Tuesday home game with USC Upstate.
Blue Hose

* South Carolina has published its preview notes for Tuesday's game with Furman at Fluor Field in downtown Greenville.

* USC Upstate has posted a preview for its midweek games with Presbyterian and Wofford.

* Winthrop has sent out notes on its midweek games with Davidson and East Tennessee State.

Looking back
* South Carolina has posted notes looking back on last week, when the Gamecocks went 2-2 to break a five-game losing streak.

* USC Aiken also has posted its weekly notes package.

Schedule changes
* Benedict has added a Wednesday home doubleheader against St. Augustine's.
* Limestone has added a Wednesday home game with Lenoir-Rhyne.

Conference Carolinas all-academic

Erskine: Sam Cothran, Landon Dickerson, Connor Gibson, Hanlon Maivelett, Joby Moss, Josh Nowak.
Limestone: Ryan Cliff, Michael Gonzalez, Patrick Hornick, Jose Rondon, Christopher Scura, Daniel Smith, Michael Wilson.
North Greenville: Matthew Cooper, Foley George, Tyler Mitchell.
Southern Wesleyan: Andrew Hilgeman, Andrew Howard, J.J. Julian, Wade Metcalf.

NCAA DI home attendance
Average: 1. LSU 10,613. 5. South Carolina 7,310. 9. Clemson 4,294. 46. Coastal Carolina 1,426.
Total: 1. LSU 275,945. 5. South Carolina 190,078. 10. Clemson 90,182. 30. Coastal Carolina 42,807.

State scoreboard, April 20

Emmanuel at Limestone

Southern Wesleyan at Anderson, to 6 p.m. Tuesday

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Conference Carolinas sets tournament schedule

Mount Olive is the top seed for the Conference Carolinas Baseball Tournament beginning Thursday the Burlington (N.C.) Athletic Stadium.

The regular-season champion Trojans will play  North Greenville at 7 p.m. Thursday to cap the first day of the six-team, double-elimination event.

Erskine, the No. 2 seed, meets Belmont Abbey at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Thursday's games
Game 1 - No. 4 King vs. No. 3 Pfeiffer, 11 a.m.
Game 2 - No. 5 Belmont Abbey vs. No. 2 Erskine, 3 p.m.
Game 3 - No. 6 North Greenville vs. No. 1 Mount Olive, 7 p.m.

Friday's games
Game 4 - Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 11 a.m.
Game 5 - Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 6 - Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday's games (if 4 teams remain after Friday)
Game 7 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 11 a.m.
Game 8 - Game 4 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 3 p.m.
Game 9 - Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday's games (if 5 teams remain after Friday )
Game 7 - Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 11 a.m.
Game 8 - Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 9 - Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 7 p.m.

Sunday's games (if 2 teams remain after Saturday)
Game 10 - Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 11 - If necessary, 4 p.m.

Sunday's games (if 3 teams remain after Saturday)
Game 10 - Game 9 loser vs. Game 8 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 11 - Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 4 p.m.

Wrapping up the weekend in S.C. college baseball, April 19

* USC Sumter became the first South Carolina team to qualify for the 2015 postseason when it clinched the NJCAA Region 10 regular-season title this weekend.

Coach Tim Medlin's Fire Ants earned a spot in district play next month regardless of how they fare in the region tournament.

The Fire Ants moved into first place in Region 10 in mid-March and were either alone in or tied for first at the end of every weekend series.

Sumter had a tenuous one-game lead over Florence-Darlington Tech, USC Lancaster and Pitt CC entering the final weekend. The Fire Ants swept Saturday's doubleheader with Guilford Tech while FD Tech and Lancaster were splitting a head-to-head twinbill. Pitt also split a pair with USC Salkehatchie, so Sumter entered Sunday with a two-game lead.

Sunday's rain washed out two of the three doubleheaders involving the top four teams. Pitt was able to win two at Salkehatchie, moving ahead of FD Tech and Lancaster into second but still finishing a game behind the Fire Ants.

Notice I haven't mentioned Spartanburg Methodist, arguably Region 10's most consistent program for decades and a Junior College World Series participant a season ago. The Pioneers finished fifth., a sign of how competitive the league has become.

Medlin has maintained and built on the high caliber of play predecessor Tom Fleenor developed at Sumter before he left for Lenoir-Rhyne.

* South Carolina got a much-needed pick-me-up with its 2-1 series victory over defending national champion Vanderbilt.

The Gamecocks had lost their last four SEC series and were pasted by the Commodores in Thursday's series opener, 12-0. Junior Vince Fiori, replacing injured starter Wil Crowe, pitched commendably in his first career start; however, the game quickly got out of hand when USC went to its bullpen.

It stretched USC's losing streak to five games, the program's longest since Ray Tanner's first season as coach in 1997.

Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said after that game his team needed a heroic performance from someone. He got it on Friday when Jack Wynkoop threw a complete game in a 5-2 victory. USC took an early 2-0 lead only to have Vandy tie the score.  The Gamecocks scored three runs late to win.

USC scrapped back from a 2-0 deficit to win Saturday's rubber game, 3-2. The bullpen atoned for its Thursday failures with effective long outings by Cody Mincey and Taylor Widener.

The Gamecocks' offense wasn't prolific - for instance, Friday's winning run scored on four consecutive Vandy walks - but it did enough to get by. That's a change from its performance during its recent struggles.

Freshman Alex Destino has struggled the past month-plus - especially against SEC pitching -  after a hot start, but showed signs that he may be turning things around. He went 3-for-8 as a starter on Friday and Saturday.

And how much of USC's series victory could be attributed to struggles by Vanderbilt?  The Commodores entered the series on a three-game losing streak and left Columbia as losers in five of their last six games.

But was this beginning of a turnaround or a blip on the radar for USC? The answer could come as early as next weekend when the Gamecocks visit last-place Tennessee. A series loss to the Vols could erase any momentum gained by the Vanderbilt series.

The better starting pitching was an encouraging sign for USC fans. Discouraging signs included recurring defensive woes and the inability to string together a big offensive effort. To be fair, Vanderbilt does have very talented pitching.

South Carolina still has a tough row to hoe if it is to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks are 8-10 in the SEC of its remaining 12 games are against LSU and Texas A&M, ranked 1-2 in several national polls. They might even need as deep run into the SEC Tournament to get the NCAA Selection Committee's attention.

But, after the weekend, it looks like there's some life left in the Gamecocks.

* Clemson also showed some spring in its step, winning two Saturday games against Duke to cap a 4-0 week.

The Tigers are 22-18 and have won five straight overall.  It's the first time Clemson has been four games over .500 since it was 8-4 after winning the opener of the N.C. State series in early March.

As well as the Tigers are playing now, coach Jack Leggett probably hated missing a chance to get a third weekend win. That's likely why the school waited until after 4 p.m. before cancelling Sunday's game.

Starters Matthew Crownover and Zack Erwin were sharp. Chris Okey continued his torrid hitting, joining Reed Rohlman and Tyler Krieger to give Clemson three consistently dangerous bats. 

For all Clemson's struggles and the hand-wringing by fans, the Tigers are in fourth place in the ACC's overall standings with an 11-9 mark.

Like USC, Clemson also faces some challenges down the stretch of conference play. Louisville has the ACC's best record, but that series is at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.  Also ahead is a series at Florida State.

On paper, the most  "winnable" of the three remaining series appears to be next weekend's visit to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were swept by Boston College this weekend, falling to 9-12 in the ACC.

Like USC, Clemson will need a strong finish and likely some success in the conference tournament to catch the selection committee's eye.

* Furman won two of three at Western Carolina, giving the Paladins their second straight SoCon series victory.

Coach Ron Smith's team trailed 3-1 in the rubber game of the series until scoring six runs in the sixth.

Freshman Will Gaddis made that lead hold up, pitching his first career complete game.

The Paladins face a stretch of six straight non-conference games against state rivals - including a Tuesday game with South Carolina at Fluor Field in Greenville - before returning to SoCon play against East Tennessee State May 1. The Buccaneers and The Citadel share last place in the standings, so the Paladins could be in line for a third straight conference series win.

* Charleston Southern picked up a good Big South Conference series win, sweeping Campbell to move back over .500 (19-18) for the season. The Buccaneers moved into a fourth-place tie in the conference at 9-6.

* Winthrop also had a good weekend, sweeping UNC Asheville to complete a 4-0 week. The Eagles also moved within a game of .500 in the Big South.

* Coastal Carolina lost a series with Radford to fall out of  first place in the Big South. The Chanticleers' lone win came in dramatic fashion. Trailing 3-2, Radford's first two batters in the ninth inning reached on singles against reliever Bobby Holmes. Holmes responded by striking out the next three batters to get the save.

* College of Charleston won another Colonial Athletic Association series, taking two of three from Delaware on the heels of a midweek win over Coastal Carolina. But with Sunday's loss the Cougars fell behind UNC Wilmington by percentage points in the CAA standings.

* Presbyterian wasn't able to turn a midweek win at South Carolina into conference success, getting swept in a Big South Conference series at High Point.

* Anderson qualified for the single-elimination play-in portion of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament with a doubleheader sweep of Lincoln Memorial on Saturday.

* North Greenville clinched a spot in the Conference Carolinas Tournament with a doubleheader split against Erskine. The Crusaders are 25-23 under first-year coach Landon Powell. They were 8-35 a season ago.

* Erskine's split with North Greenville was part of a 1-4 week. The Flying Fleet have struggled mightily since winning 25 of their first 27 games. They're 7-13 since then.

* USC Beaufort wrapped up a spot in The Sun Conference standings with a series win at Webber International.  Ashly Morris and Johnny Cole each hit their seventh home run of the season, matching the school record.

 Earlier in the week, Morris became the school's single-season leader in hits and runs scored.

* Claflin and Benedict remained in the four-way chase for the SIAC East Division championship. Claflin won two at Kentucky State and Benedict split two at Morris. Paine and Albany State are the other contenders in the East. The league hasn't posted up-to-date standings yet.

SEC standings through Sunday, April 19

Conference games only
Through Sunday's games

East Division
1. (tie) Vanderbilt 12-6
1. (tie) Missouri 12-6
1. (tie) Florida 12-6
4. Kentucky 8-9 
5. South Carolina 8-10
6. Georgia 6-11
7. Tennessee 5-13

West Division
1. (tie) Texas A&M 12-5
2. LSU 12-5
3. Arkansas 9-9
4. Mississippi 8-10
5. (tie) Alabama 7-11
5. (tie) Auburn 7-11
7. Mississippi State 6-12

PalmettoStateBaseball.com team of the week April 13-19: Newberry

Newberry (5-0 for the week)
(went 2-0 vs. Erskine; went 3-0 vs. Coker)

The hottest team on any level of college baseball in South Carolina is Newberry. The Wolves have won 13 straight games, including a 5-0 outing this week, and haven't lost since March 31.

Coach Russell Triplett's squad won its last 13 South Atlantic Conference games - sweeping its final 4 three-game series - to finish 21-8 in the league and earn the No. 2 seed for this week's SAC Tournament in Forest City, N.C.

The Wolves (33-16) are batting .323 as a team. One of the foremost among several contributors is Albert Baur, who is hitting .430 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs. He's one of 30 semifinalists for the Tino Martinez Award, given annually to  the nation's top NCAA Division II players.

Also considered
Charleston Southern (3-0)
Claflin (2-0)
College of Charleston (3-1)
Furman (3-1)
North Greenville (2-1)
USC Beaufort (4-1)
USC Sumter (2-0)
Winthrop (4-0)

Previous winners
Jan. 30-Feb. 8: USC Aiken
Feb. 9-15: Presbyterian
Feb. 16-22: Wofford
Feb. 23-March 1: Erskine
March 2-8: USC Beaufort
March 9-15: Coastal Carolina
March 16-22: Francis Marion
March 23-29: Limestone
March 30-April 5: Benedict
April 6-12: Florence-Darlington Tech