South Carolina's solid pitching keys first 10-0 start since 2005
South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook is taking his team's first 10-0 start since 2005 in stride.
"It's good to be sitting where we are," Holbrook said Monday, noting that it's still early. "With conference play and a lot of difficult opponents our schedule, we have a cauldron coming up."
The Gamecocks were impressive in their first major test, winning three straight over in-state rival Clemson this past weekend. The sweep came after a program-record five-consecutive shutouts and carried them to the No. 1 ranking in this week's Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll.
Starters Jordan Montgomery, Jack Wynkoop and Wil Crowe have combined to allow 12 earned runs in 55 innings, and the staff has a 1.60 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 90 innings.
Cody Mincey and Joel Seddon have been dominant. Mincey (2-0), a junior-college transfer, has struck out 16 in nine innings. Seddon, the closer, hasn't allowed a hit or run in six relief appearances spanning 7.2 innings.
"I knew they had a chance to be good, but they hadn't done it at this level," Holbrook said. "You always wonder how they'll react. Through 10 games they've pitched exceptionally well, a little bit better than I would have thought."
First baseman Kyle Martin is batting .472 with six multi-hit games, and right fielder Connor Bright (.462) has hit safely in 11 consecutive games since last season. Catcher Grayson Greiner has hit three home runs, including a grand slam Friday, and the Gamecocks average better than eight runs a game.
South Carolina lost a three-game super regional to North Carolina, denying the Gamecocks a return to the College World Series to play for a third national championship in four years. Holbrook, in his second season after replacing Ray Tanner, has an experienced team that's picked to win the Southeastern Conference.
"We've got a number of guys who have played in the College World Series and in some awfully big games," he said. "There are times I can put a team on the field with no freshmen and not even a sophomore. That historically bodes well. On top of that, they're pretty good, so you have a chance to have a special year."
Here's a look around college baseball:
WETZLER RETURNS: Oregon State left-hander Ben Wetzler was sharp in his season debut Sunday, allowing four hits and one run over 7.2 innings in a win against Wright State. Wetzler was suspended the first 11 games by the NCAA for having a representative allegedly violate a rule governing contact between advisers and pro sports teams. Wetzler was drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies last year.
JAKE'S NO-NO: Jake Stinnett pitched Maryland's first no-hitter since 2008 in a 4-0 win against Massachusetts on Saturday. The senior right-hander walked two and struck out nine, retiring the last 11. In his previous start, Stinnett was perfect through five innings and allowed one hit and struck out a career-high 11 in eight innings against Bryant.
RISING LONGHORNS: Texas won the Houston College Classic and has won eight of nine games. Dillon Peters pitched eight innings in a 2-0 win against Rice on Friday, and the Longhorns followed with 3-2 wins against Houston and Sam Houston State. At 9-3, the Longhorns are No. 10 in Baseball America, their highest ranking since 2011.
DEVILISH PITCHERS: Arizona State sophomore left-handers Ryan Kellogg and Brett Lilek combined to strike out 15 and limit Oklahoma State to three hits in a 6-1 win Sunday. Kellogg struck out the side to start the game and finished with a career-high 10 Ks in five innings. Lilek retired 11 in a row at one point.
SETON HALL SWEEP: The Big East got a boost when Seton Hall won three consecutive games against the Pac-12's Arizona. It was the first three-game, non-conference sweep in Tucson since 2009. The Pirates outscored Arizona 24-5 and have won six in a row to improve to 11-2.
HOT HAWKS AND JAYHAWKS: Long-struggling Iowa already has shown improvement under first-year coach Rick Heller. The Hawkeyes are 9-1, albeit against undistinguished competition, and are off to the program's best start since beginning 10-0-1 in 1940. Kansas, meanwhile, is 11-1 for its best start in its 134-year baseball history.