South Carolina went into last weekend as one of the more disappointing SEC teams this season, but they flipped that script with a series win over a Vanderbilt team that had been streaking before dropping a midweek game to a mediocre Presbyterian team. Now, the Tigers will face them this weekend and it’s unclear which gamecocks team will show up, so let’s break down the South Carolina team.
On Friday night, Noah Hall will take the mound for the Gamecocks, and saying Hall has had a rough year would be a fair assessment. To start the year, Hall was a reliever, and he found some success before he was moved to the weekend rotation. However, upon his arrival to the regular Friday night guy, Hall has struggled in his role. He has given up a minimum of 3 ER in each of his starts, and he has a 7.62 ERA this year. If there is one silver lining to his year, Hall did put out a quality start with 6 IP and 3 ER last weekend against Vanderbilt, but the Gamecocks still lost, and they are yet to win one of his starts.
As far as stuff goes, Hall is going to sit 90-91 mph with his fastball, and mix in a breaking ball and changeup. The changeup is his putaway pitch along with his fastball, but overall, nothing is going to blow Missouri hitters away. As far as Friday night starters go, this might be one of Missouri’s easiest matchups of the year. They just need to capitalize on it.
Here’s a look at a big strikeout from Hall last weekend:
When Saturday rolls around, South Carolina will turn the ball over to one of their most intriguing arms, Will Sanders. Coming off a All-SEC Freshman season, Sanders was named preseason 2nd Team All-SEC, and he’s had a good year so far. Outside of a rough start against Tennessee, who has the best lineup in the country, Sanders has been absolutely nails for the Gamecocks. On the year he has a 3.44 ERA and 43 Ks in 36.2 innings, and he’s coming off his best start of the year against Vanderbilt. He went 7 innings and struck out 11 while allowing just 2 ER. If he has that same stuff it could a rough Saturday for Mizzou.
One of the main reasons Sanders has found success is his big fastball. He’s going to sit around 93-94 mph and can throw even harder with the ability to mix in a good changeup and breaking ball. His slider has great bite and his changeup has great arm side movement as well. Most frequently, Sanders will use changeups away to lefties and sliders away to righties, but he’s a talented enough pitcher that he can put away guys in a variety of ways, and that’s why he was able to shut down the Commodores last weekend.
Here’s a look at a great breaking ball he threw to retire Enrique Bradfield last weekend:
Last weekend, the Tigers faced a talented freshman LHP, and this weekend, they’ll see another on Sunday. Matthew Becker is a new addition to the South Carolina weekend rotation, but he’s shown great promise in his limited action in the role. In the series finale against Vanderbilt, the Commodores got to him, but in the two weeks prior, Becker pitched well against Tennessee and Texas, two of the best teams in all of college baseball. In just 21.2 innings, Becker has a 3.74 ERA including a 6 inning, 1 ER, 11 K performance against Texas.
One of the hallmarks of Becker’s arsenal is the late life on his fastball. He’s not going to blow you — his fastball sits at around 90 mph — but you’ll see hitters still find themselves behind it. He also has a changeup and a couple of different breaking balls. For a young guy, what he does best is attack hitters. He’s not going beat himself, and he’s going to attack the zone with a flood of strikes. If Mizzou want to get to this guy, they’ll need to make sure they come to the park ready to hit.
Here’s a look at the late life I was talking about earlier:
As a staff, this is how the rest of the South Carolina rotation has performed statistically this year:
For Missouri fans, a familiar name gets things started for the Gamecock offense. Brandt Belk spent two seasons as a Tiger before transferring to the other Columbia school, and he’s having quite the year with his new team. He’s slashing .349/.427/.535 and has added 3 HR and 16 RBI from the top of the lineup.
Belk’s success at Missouri and South Carolina has always come from his ability to put the barrel on the ball. He’s not going to wow you with power, but he’s going to hit to all fields and hit line drives. The highlight of his season so far was his weekend against Texas in which he had 8 hits in three games. The Tigers should be familiar with him, however, so they may have a scouting advantage over some other teams.
Against Vandy last week, Belk came up big with this 2-RBI double:
Probably the best hitter on South Carolina is Andrew Eyster. Like Belk, Eyster is an experienced player who is in his fifth year of college baseball, and he’s in a groove at the plate this year. He’s slashing .366/.442/.573 with 4 HR and 27 RBI and has been the ideal middle of the order bat every coach desires. Against Vanderbilt in Game 2 last week, he had one of his best games going 2-3 with 4 RBI and a HR to power the Gamecocks to victory.
As a hitter, Eyster does most of his big damage on fastballs, but is a good overall hitter. With 29 career HR, Mizzou will be cautious when pitching to him, and if they can limit his ability to drive in runs, that should lead to success for the Tigers.
Here’s his HR from the Vandy series:
One more name Missouri fans should make sure to watch for at Taylor Stadium this weekend is Braylen Wimmer. The Gamecock second baseman has been one of the more reliable contributors for South Carolina from a couple years now, and this season has been no different. He’s slashing .344/.390/.458 and has 2 HR and 19 RBI. Both of his homeruns came against Vanderbilt in Game 2 like Eyster, and that was by far his best game of the year going 3-3 and adding 5 RBI with the 2 HR.
When you watch Wimmer, what really stands out about him is his aggressive approach at the plate. He swings at the first pitch often and doesn’t like to see many pitches. When counts get deeper, he starts to struggle more, but as a whole, Wimmer is a bat Missouri needs to wary of because of his ability to hit the ball to all fields and drive in runs.
Here’s both HRs from this weekend:
B4 | You know what they say. Make a great defensive play in the top half of an inning, hit a two-run homer in the bottom!!— Gamecock Baseball (@GamecockBasebll) March 26, 2022
https://t.co/jSUbWiW4cg#Gamecocks | #ForeverToThee pic.twitter.com/OrEyATX18t
As a team, this is how the Gamecocks have looked by the numbers this year:
Friday | 6 pm | SEC Network +
Saturday | 2 pm | SEC Network +
Sunday | 1 pm | SEC Network +