Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wrapping up the weekend, April 13

* Clemson went 1-2 at Virginia to wrap up a 1-4 week, but the Tigers actually may have been feeling somewhat update on the trip home. That's because weekend starters Daniel Gossett and Jake Long pitched -- and pitched well. Both had missed their scheduled starts against N.C. State the previous weekend because of shoulder stiffness (Gossett) and back stiffness (Long). I'm sure coach Jack Leggett will be eager to see how both respond physically. There was other good news: the Tigers got solid relief pitching and played good defense. Both areas have been problems this season. One negative was that the Tigers batted .206 for the weekend and scored just one run over the final two games. Still, there will be cause for optimism if the Tigers remain healthy. On the ACC standings front, the Tigers fell a half-game behind Wake Forest for second place in the ACC Atlantic Division when the Demon Deacons took a 2-1 series win over North Carolina. First-place Florida State moved 3 1/2 games ahead of Clemson by salvaging the final of a series at Georgia Tech.

* South Carolina suffered through some of what Clemson's been going through this season, faltering on defense and suffering through bullpen letdowns at inopportune times in losing two of three against Florida. The Gamecocks went the Tigers two better: they lost a lead five times and stranded 28 runners in the final two games. If that's not enough, the Gamecocks also  had to use several reserves because of injuries. Max Schrock, hampered much of the last month with nagging injuries, missed the weekend flu-like symptoms - for a while it was feared he had mononucleosis. Connor Bright suffered an injury on Friday and was limited to a defensive role on Sunday. Joey Pankake left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury.  The lack of production with runners in scoring position has been a recurring issue since the Gamecocks began SEC play. Speaking of ACC play, the Gamecocks fell to 8-7, one game behind Florida in the East Division standings, midway through the conference schedule. With three of the final five conference series on the road, USC must play better in conference road games (2-4 so far) to have a shot at winning the division title.

* Furman broke a seven-game losing streak and cooled off red-hot Western Carolina by winning two of three in Cullowhee. Paladins junior pitcher Tyler Wood was brilliant on Sunday, allowing a run on seven hits and a walk while striking out four in eight innings. Western Carolina entered the weekend in first place in the Southern Conference, but fell behind Davidson. The Catamounts are 25-5 in their last 30 SoCon games. Five of the losses have been to Furman.

* Presbyterian snapped a 13-game winning streak and went on to win two of three against Big South South Division leader Winthrop.

* Lander stayed on the heels of Columbus State in the Peach Belt Conference with a three-game sweep of Georgia College. Both teams entered the series in ranked in the NCAA Division II national polls. The Bearcats trailed 10-2 after 4 1/2 innings of the series opener, but rallied to win 11-10, in extra innings.

* Claflin  claimed bragging rights in its SIAC series with rival Benedict by beating the Tigers three straight in Columbia.

* Although it suffered a 10-inning loss in the series finale at Northern Kentucky, USC Upstate won the Atlantic Sun series, 2-1, to cap a 4-1 week. The Spartans had lost six straight before beating Winthrop and College of Charleston in midweek games.

* Coastal Carolina gained a game on Winthrop in the Big South Conference South Division standings by winning two of three at Radford. The Chanticleers also upended ACC power North Carolina in a midweek game.

* USC Aiken bounced back from a series loss against Lander the previous weekend with a sweep of neighboring GRU Augusta.

* Erskine swept North Greenville and maintained a slim chance of catching first-place Mount Olive entering the final weekend of the Conference Carolinas regular season. The Flying Fleet must win three over Limestone and hope Mount Olive loses three at last-place North Greenville.

* Newberry and Anderson won their weekend series and stayed in the battle for one of six slots in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament later this month. Each team needs one win during their three-game series at Anderson Memorial Stadium this weekend. One team could afford being swept as long as seventh-place Carson-Newman loses at least one game to co-leader Catawba.

The NJCAA Region 10 regular wraps up next weekend and the regular-season championship is Spartanburg Methodist's to lose. The Pioneers swept Louisburg while previous co-leader USC Lancaster was losing three of four to Florence-Darlington Tech. SMC has a 1 1/2-game lead over FD Tech and a three-game cushion over USCL. The Pioneers are at last-place Guilford Technical CC this weekend. FD Tech has a difficult series with USC Sumter, while USC Lancaster plays a good Pitt CC squad.

* College of Charleston moved into first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with a weekend sweep of Delaware.

* USC Beaufort hurt its chances of qualifying for the six team Sun Conference Tournament by losing two of three at Ave Maria. The Sand Sharks are a half-game behind Northwood and close the regular season with a visit to Warner. Warner is in eighth place, a game behind USCB, and has designs on vaulting into the tournament.

And, to close out, some national tidbits:

* Florida is a combined 8-1 this season against Florida State, LSU and South Carolina. The Gators have won 8 of their last 10 against the Gamecocks and 6 of the last 9 in Columbia.

* Georgia Tech has turned 46 double plays in 37 games this season. By comparison, USC has turned 25 in 35 games and Clemson has turned 16 in 35 games.

* Mississippi State drew crowds totaling 39,181 for its three-game home series with Mississippi. That's an NCAA record for a three-game on-campus series.

* Miami is on a 12-game winning streak, including nine straight in ACC play.

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