USC baseball happy with pitchers, but Tanner wants to resolve second base spot
COLUMBIA – The season couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start for South Carolina’s baseball team. The Gamecocks are 6-0 after sweeping Virginia Military Institute and Elon. They have allowed just seven runs, their fewest through the first six games of a season since 1977, when they gave up six.
“I’ve never seen a pitching staff or been a part of a pitching staff like this,” said junior third baseman LB Dantzler, a newcomer from a junior college. “It’s just unbelievable. As an offense, we probably need to swing it a little better, but they’ve been picking us up so far.
“I’m sure later in the season, there will be games when we pick them up a little bit. Hopefully not. Hopefully, they keep throwing like this. It definitely gives us confidence, because so far this year, we score one, two runs and we’re going to win.”
USC has scored 35 runs, though 13 of those came in one game against VMI. To Dantzler’s point: In one game, the Gamecocks scored two runs, and in two other games, they scored three. Their pitchers have allowed two runs twice, one run three times and threw a shutout once.
Despite all the good news through the first two series, coach Ray Tanner still feels uncertain about the second base position. It is the only spot that remains unresolved as the Gamecocks prepare for Tuesday’s 4 p.m. home game against Presbyterian and this weekend’s traveling series against Clemson, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Riley Park.
Junior Chase Vergason, a junior college transfer, entered the season as the leader at second base and started the opener. The next two games against VMI were started by freshmen TJ Costen and Connor Bright. For the Elon series, Tanner started Vergason in the first game and Bright in the next two.
Vergason is hitting .143, Costen .286 with a home run and two runs batted-in, and Bright .222 with an RBI. Besides Costen’s home run, none of the three second basemen has an extra base hit in 23 combined at-bats. They have combined for just three walks.
“Right now, Connor is a little bit more comfortable,” Tanner said. “Chase is a maybe a little bit antsy. He was the guy with the edge going into the season. He may be pressing a little bit. We need to get TJ some opportunities as well. He’s a pretty good offensive guy with great speed. We’re still going through a process of trying to figure out exactly what we want to do. But hopefully, those guys will get better.”