Dyson starting due to lack of offense
COLUMBIA -- South Carolina baseball coach Ray Tanner and pitching coach Mark Calvi debated who should start tonight's NCAA regional opener against Bucknell.
Go with one of your aces, Blake Cooper or Sam Dyson, against a team with a losing record? Or roll the dice that someone such as senior Jay Brown can pitch well enough to allow USC to outhit the regional's No. 4 seed?
Tanner ultimately went with Dyson (5-5, 3.92 ERA), the hard-throwing junior right-hander.
The team's average offense -- which has been worse than that lately -- dictated the decision as much as anything.
"Did we explore maybe other options? Sure. But we are not an offensive juggernaut," Tanner said. "We don't score 12 runs a game. The realism of who we are came into play."
Cooper (10-1, 2.94 ERA) will go Saturday, likely against the Citadel-Virginia Tech winner.
Dyson will be tough enough for the Bison to face, but there's a chance they'll see Citadel ace Asher Wojciechowski on Saturday.
Wojciechowski is expected to be a first-round selection in next week's major league draft.
"It's there, you know. But I'm just focusing on the business at hand and what we have to do this weekend," said Wojciechowski, 12-2 with a 3.25 ERA. "It's in the back of my mind, but I'm not thinking about it too much. What happens, happens."
Hokies' groovy threads
Virginia Tech sported some groovy threads at the ACC tournament last week, some throwback uniforms that bring the mid-1970s Houston Astros to mind.
Fashion is always a question of taste, but Hokies coach Pete Hughes likes the retro look.
"We're just trying to create some excitement and conversation about our program," Hughes said Thursday. "When you are trying to build some popularity in your program that wasn't there, one way is to get those throwback uniforms. It's worked, because people are talking about those uniforms."
Might the Hokies go groovy against The Citadel today?
"It's up to the guys, and I guarantee they will vote for those things," Hughes said. "I love them, and they are our most comfortable jerseys, too. The kids play good in them."
Yes, the Bulldogs noticed that they are a No. 3 seed in Columbia after winning the Southern Conference regular season and tournament titles, while the College of Charleston -- runner-up in the regular season and 1-2 in the tournament -- is the No. 2 seed in Conway.
"We've been playing with a chip on our shoulder the whole year," Wojciechowski said. "People weren't expecting us to do much, and I guess people still don't expect much from us. It just gives us more motivation to prove how good we are."
The Gamecocks' recent offensive struggles have been documented, but don't include outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the woes. The sophomore has been raking in an 11-game hit streak, in which he has four consecutive multi-hit games.
Bradley, batting a team-best .372 for the season, is hitting .468 in the streak.
Hand injuries slowed him early in the season, but nothing is hampering him now.
Citadel coach Fred Jordan was mum on his bum right shoulder, injured in last week's melee against Elon, other than to say it prevented him from throwing batting practice. "I'm on the DL," Jordan quipped. ... Bucknell will start right-hander Dylan Seeley (5-3, 4.03 ERA) against the Gamecocks.