Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wrapping up the weekend, April 20

First, a little scheduling news for Monday:

* Southern Wesleyan and Faulkner had a pair of Southern States Athletic Conference games rained out in Central over the weekend. They'll make the games up with a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Monday.

* Southern Wesleyan already had a game scheduled for Monday, at Anderson as part of the Trojans' Senior Night. Fortunately, Erskine was willing to step in as Anderson's replacement, so there will be baseball at Anderson Memorial Stadium, too.

Now, a look back.
 It wasn't a weekend to write home about for many of the state's teams. Eleven of the 31 S.C. college (two-year or four-year) programs failed to win a game last week.

* Lander took a weekend off from Peach Belt Conference play, but the Bearcats still had a memorable time. They won three game in a tournament at North Alabama to improve their record to 39-6. That set a school record for victories in a season.

* Coming off a midweek win at South Carolina, Charleston Southern won a pair of games in a rain-shortened Big South Conference series against Gardner-Webb to climb a couple of spots in the South Division standings. The Buccaneers are on a four-game winning streak and have won five of six since a six-game losing streak earlier this month.

* Coastal Carolina (20-21) has struggled much of the season because of rebuilding and injuries. The Chanticleers rebounded from a midweek loss at Clemson to win a three-game series against Presbyterian. That moved Coastal past Winthrop and into first place in the Big South Conference's South Division standings. Coach Gary Gilmore got the 1,000th victory of his career in the opener. Junior Austin Kerr pitched a dandy shutout on Saturday. Next up are 11 straight road games - three at Gardner-Webb, one at Elon, three at N.C. State, three at Big South North leader Liberty and one at College of Charleston.  If they come back to Myrtle Beach on May 15 close to .500, the Chanticleers should feel pretty good about themselves.

* Winthrop, meanwhile, has hit a bump in the road. The three-game sweep by High Point knocked the Eagles from the Big South South Division lead. They've lost four straight, six of seven and eight of 10.

* South Carolina won the final two games of its SEC weekend series at Auburn to snap a five-game losing streak, including midweek losses to Charleston Southern and The Citadel. The roots of the Gamecocks' problems appeared to be injuries and a hitting slump, but they also had some mental lapses on defense and on the base paths to contribute to the woes. USC got three of its injured starters back in the lineup by the end of Sunday's series finale and got some early momentum with a two-run first inning.  Still, the Gamecocks struggled to get hits in key situations. One constant for most of the season has been pitching. It was spot-on most of the Auburn series.

* Clemson won two of three at Pittsburgh. Other than some control issues for Jake Long in Game 3, the Tigers got dandy starting pitching. Physically,  both Long and Daniel Gossett appear to be over the issues that sidelined them for the N.C. State series. Because of Sunday's margin, coach Jack Leggett got a chance to get pitcher Jackson Campana in for the first time this season in a no-pressure situation. The Tigers return home next weekend to face one of the nation's hottest teams in Miami. The Hurricanes took a 14-game winning streak into Sunday night's game against Notre Dame and had a chance to take over.

* Erskine is red-hot entering next weekend's Conference Carolinas Tournament in Burlington. The three-game sweep of Limestone extended the Flying Fleet's winning streak to 11 games, eight of which have been against conference teams. The Fleet wrapped up second place in the conference with their closing kick.

* Anderson entered the Erskine series uncertain of its postseason status. While the Trojans lost all three games, they still made the tournament because Carson-Newman couldn't win enough games to catch them.

* College of Charleston didn't need a big adjustment period for its move to the Colonial Athletic Association. After  going 1-2 in its debut series against Northeastern, the Cougars have had three straight series sweeps, the most recent against James Madison over the weekend. The Cougars take a break from league play next weekend with a home series against Bethune-Cookman.

* The Citadel got a big midweek non-conference win over South Carolina, but the Bulldogs couldn't turn that into any Southern Conference momentum. They lost both games in a rain-shortened two-game series Western Carolina and stayed in last place in the SoCon, 1 1/2 games behind Wofford. The Bulldogs are 3 1/2 games behind UNC Greensboro in the race for the last spot in the Southern Conference Tournament next month. The Bulldogs certainly don't want to fail to qualify for a tournament being played in their home park.

* The wet weather has been a particular problem for NJCAA Region 10 teams all season, so it was sort of fitting that the final day of the season was pretty much a washout. Six of eight Saturday games were canceled, meaning Spartanburg Methodist held on to its lead over Florence-Darlington Tech for the regular-season title. For the season, almost 19 percent of all region games - that doesn't count non-region cancellations - were rained out.

* Wofford dropped a pair of SoCon games and Furman, and the Paladins tried desperately to get a three-game sweep, changing the scheduled starting twice and waiting 2 1/2 hours before finally cancelling. The Terriers have lost five of their last six games. Furman has won its last four SoCon games.

* USC Beaufort needed a good showing at Warner to have a chance to qualify for The Sun Conference Tournament. Instead, the Sand Sharks were swept.

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