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Analysis: No. 18 Թϱ baseball wins 6th straight game with high-scoring victory over Presbyterian

<p>Senior catcher Dalton Reeves catches a strike during South Carolina's 19-14 victory over the Presbyterian Blue Hose on March 26, 2024. Reeves started for the first time this season and made 2 home runs and six RBIs for the Gamecocks.</p>
Senior catcher Dalton Reeves catches a strike during Թϱ's 19-14 victory over the Presbyterian Blue Hose on March 26, 2024. Reeves started for the first time this season and made 2 home runs and six RBIs for the Gamecocks.

The No. 18 Թϱ baseball team extended its win streak to six games in a high-scoring 19-14 victory over Presbyterian.

Թϱ entered the game fresh off a sweep against No. 3 Vanderbilt, where the Gamecocks outscored the Commodores 26-9.

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Թϱ carried that momentum into its midweek game immediately as it fired off seven runs in the first inning.

The spark was highlighted by senior catcher Dalton Reeves, who made his first start this season over normal starter junior catcher Cole Messina. Reeves, a transfer from Presbyterian, made an early impression against his former team with a 3-run home run to cap off Carolina’s first inning. 

Reeves would finish his first start going 2-4, with 2 home runs and six RBIs.

"It was really special, honestly," Reeves said. "It was kind of just a thing where King texted me this morning, he's like, 'Hey, you're going to go behind the plate today,' and, you know, I jumped out of bed, ready to go. But it was really cool to be able to play against some of my brothers that I've played the last two years with, so it's really special."

But pitching was a problem for both sides on Tuesday. Թϱ used nine different pitchers during the game, and Presbyterian used eight. The two teams combined for 29 free bases and 33 runs given up.

The Gamecocks did have an opportunity to end the game after seven innings due to the run rule, but instead, Presbyterian continued to reap the benefits of Թϱ's pitching. It scored 5 runs in the seventh to extend the game.

Pitching remained a problem for the Gamecocks to finish the game, as it put multiple runners on base in the ninth, allowing 3 more runs to be scored until junior pitcher Chris Veach came in to close the game and seal a Թϱ victory.

Here are some key takeaways that Թϱ can take into its upcoming series against No. 16 Alabama.

Pitching inconsistencies

This pitching performance came off the back of a near-flawless pitching performance against one of the hottest teams in the country, No. 3 Vanderbilt, bringing to light the inconsistencies the pitching lineup has despite the offensive firepower.

Last weekend, the Gamecocks held the Commodores to 9 runs over three games, but against the Blue Hose, it showed a completely different side, giving up 14 runs and using nine different pitchers to get the job done.

The issue stemmed from free bases. Թϱ gave up 17 free bases to Presbyterian during the game, 13 from walks and four from hitting the batter. This problem caused many Gamecock relief pitchers to not even reach a full inning during their stints, with some only getting one out before they had to be pulled.

For a Թϱ pitching staff that has been solid most of the season, Presbyterian showed some of its weaknesses.

"All year, we've thrown a tremendous amounts of strikes, and our pitching has been as good as anybody in the country all year," head coach Mark Kingston said. "Tonight was a flukey night."

Bats continue to stay hot

Despite the pitching, Թϱ's offense continued to impress in the victory. 

The team hit 6 home runs shared between four players and tallied 15 hits in the victory. Over the Gamecocks' six-game winning streak, it has racked up 65 total runs, which averages to just over 10 runs a game

Թϱ seems to now be reaching its stride and getting the offense in a rhythm before it hits the road to face Alabama.

"On those nights, where it feels like nothing's really going right on the pitching side, it's up to the hitters to kind of pick up the slack, and they did that," Kingston said.

Ethan Petry continues to impress at the plate

Sophomore outfielder Ethan Petry has been hot at the plate as of late, turning in two multi-home run games in his last three games. He has been the leader so far of Թϱ's offensive streak.

He started his night out with a 2-run shot in the first inning and carried this momentum into the second inning with another 2-run home run. Petry would finish the game with three hits and five RBIs to his name as well.

Petry's batting average is now up to .345, with 12 of his 29 hits being home runs. Petry's success has been a catalyst for Թϱ's recent victories.

"He's probably recaptured where he was last year at his best," Kingston said. "And for about the last, I would say, six, seven, eight games he's been one of the elite hitters in the country again."

What's next?

Թϱ improves to 20-5 (4-2 SEC) on the season and will travel to face No. 16 Alabama this week. Game one is on Thursday at 8 p.m., game two is on Friday at 7 p.m. and game three is on Saturday at 2 p.m. All games will be broadcast on SEC Network+.


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