The SEC tournament has a new format, but the Gamecocks are having a very familiar experience. In Carolina's first game of the 2013 tournament they got off to a rough start and ended up in the losers' bracket.
Nolan Belcher clearly didn't have his best stuff and he didn't get enough run support to overcome it. After giving up 2 in the first and another in the third Belcher battled into the 7th inning. The offense showed some life in the fourth and tied the game at three. That was about it.
For the rest of the game the offense squandered every opportunity it generated. In the 5th, Carolina had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out; they got no runs. In the 6th they couldn't move a lead off single. In the 7th, they got a runner in scoring position to no avail. The 8th started with a lead off walk, which can so often be a team's undoing, but it also went for naught.
One clutch hit and the Gamecocks are probably still in the winners' bracket. Sometimes those hits come; last night they didn't. Now Carolina gets to play Vanderbilt in the losers' bracket.
There has been some talk about how solid Carolina's hosting resume is. Overall it is strong. Losing 3 of 4 to Mississippi State and 4 of 5 overall wouldn't be ideal, but the Gamecocks should be fine. They might be punished with a very strong regional field, but they probably aren't going to have to leave Columbia until the Supers, assuming they get that far.
Side Note: Does anyone know why Hoover has been so unkind to the Gamecocks? I used to think that the power hitting teams of the mid 2000s didn't do well in the cavernous park, but even Carolina's national championship teams don't seem to do well there.
A few quick facts:
- Since winning the SEC Tournament in 2004, Carolina has not had a winning record in any tournament since. in fact, they've only finished .500 once.
- Since 2000 South Carolina is the winningest program in the SEC. They've won 13 more games than second place LSU. (excluding the SEC tournament, of course)
- Since 2000 Carolina's SEC regular season winning percentage is .616
- Since 2000 Carolina's SEC tournament winning percentage is .468
- Since the 2004 SEC Championship the winning percentage is only .320
All that being said, this team isn't responsible for that long term trend. They play #1 Vanderbilt today, and if they win, not only will they lock in their regional, but they will have something positive to build on for the rest of the tournament and the post season.no comments