Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wrapping up the weekend, March 13

On the whole, the State's 11 NCAA Division I teams are holding up pretty well four weeks into the season. Three teams are one game below .500. The other eight are at 500 or better.

The early returns after one weekend of NJCAA Region 10 play suggest another dandy season. The eight teams are within two games of one another and no one was able to sweep an opening series.

* If you like seeing runs scored, you ought to take in an Anderson game. Through 23 games the Trojans and their opponents are scoring a combined 17.8 runs per game. Anderson has scored 10 or more runs in a game eight times; opponents have done so 10 times, including 24 runs by Catawba on Friday night.

* Benedict opened SIAC play on a positive note, winning two of three at home against Clark Atlanta.

* Clemson fell behind early in all three games, but rallied twice for a 2-1 series win at Wake Forest. Freshman Seth Beer homered in all three games -- hitting two on Saturday -- to continue his smooth transition to the college game. He enrolled at Clemson in January, passing up what was expected to be an early call in the MLB Draft.

Beer is hitting .404 with 7 homers shares the team lead in RBIs (20) with Chris Okey. Speaking of Okey, he lifted his batting average to .260 and delivered a grand slam in Clemson's 8-run rally to wipe out an 8-4 deficit.

One downside to the weekend, it was that all three starting pitchers struggled. To be able to win two games in a road series after falling behind early speaks well of the team's resilience.

* Coastal Carolina finished its four-weekend stretch of home-field tournaments by taking three of four against Illinois (2-0) and UNC Greensboro (1-1).

* College of Charleston extended its winning streak to eight games with a weekend sweep of Mercer.

* After surrendering a three-run lead in the ninth inning of Friday's loss to King and scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the opener of Saturday's doubleheader, Erskine left no room for late dramatics in the nightcap. The Flying Fleet scored 14 runs in the fifth inning and coasted to a 28-6 victory.  Erskine had 57 hits in the three-game series.

* Francis Marion and USC Aiken played a tight three-game Peach Belt Conference series in Florence. The Pacers needed 11 innings to Sunday's game, 5-4, to win the series, 2-1

* North Greenville bounced back from a pair of midweek losses to state rivals with a big series sweep of Mount Olive to move to 9-0 in Conference Carolinas play.

Coach Landon Powell's Crusaders fell behind 2-0 on Friday and took a 3-2 lead into the ninth only to have Mount Olive tie the score. The Trojans  took a 4-3 lead in the 16th, but North Greenville didn't wilt. The first three batters got singles, leading to a tie game. Hunter Dilworth then delivered a game-winning sacrifice fly.

Dilworth was the inning pitcher in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader sweep. Nathaniel Maggio provided offensive punch in both Saturday games, going 5-for-8 with a double and two home runs.

* Presbyterian's Tyler Weyenberg might want to play all his games in Emerson, Ga., where the Blue Hose won two of three over the weekend. He was six-for-14 with a double, a homer and two steals.

* South Carolina swept Charleston Southern -- USC starting pitchers didn't allow a run -- but it wasn't wasn't a cakewalk of a weekend of the Gamecocks.

There were  few problems on Friday with a 9-0 victory, but when starter Braden Webb handed a 5-0 lead over to the bullpen in the sixth, Charleston Southern rallied before falling, 5-4.

Matt Williams, a sophomore from Belton-Honea Path High, got his second career start on Sunday and delivered his first career home run. That helped make a winner of former Hanna High star Adam Hill in his first weekend start.

Hill struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings, but never had much margin for error because CSU starter Jon Piriz was holding the Gamecocks' offense at bay.

The Gamecocks were unable to deliver a late knockout blow offensively on either Saturday or Sunday, something that could be a cause for concern as SEC play begins this weekend. Hill almost certainly pitched well enough to hold on to the Sunday starter role Taylor Widener had the first three weekends of the season.

Several USC newcomers continued to fare well. Dom Thompson-Williams has reached base in all 17 games this season and John Jones is batting .426.

* USC Beaufort took a weekend off from Sun Conference play, but not from winning. The Sand Sharks swept doubleheaders from Fisher on Friday and Saturday to improve to 24-3 this season.

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