We like to think of LSU has the premier baseball program in the SEC, if not the nation. LSU has won six national titles and even when the team doesn't make the trip, Tiger fans dominate the tailgaiting scene at Omaha. We're good, we know we're good, and people who couldn't tell you a single college baseball player know we're good as well. LSU baseball is a brand.
South Carolina's been better.
The Gamecocks won two national titles in a row, and they were a threat again in Omaha last year while LSU was left wondering how in the hell they lost to Stony Brook. There's no way to deny it: South Carolina has caught LSU baseball. The question is whether they are getting ready to pass us and leave us in the dust. A good place to re-assert our dominance is by winning on the field this weekend. This is one of the few teams who doesn't envy our history one bit. They have their own.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Record: 31-11 (11-7), 2nd in SEC East
I can't find any logos that are all that different from the current one. Kudos for consistency.
Leeza Gibbons (host of Entertainment Tonight)
Lauren Michelle Hill (Playboy's Miss February, 2001)
Jim Hoagland (Pulitzer Prize for journalism)
Van Earl Wright (Fox Sports)
Brian Roberts (Disabled List, Baltimore Orioles)
Alex English (believe it or not, the highest scorer in the NBA in the 1980's)
Ryan Succop (2009 Mr. Irrelevant)
Joseph Burckhalter (National Investors Hall of Fame)
Jacob Shuford (president of US Naval War College)
John Swearingen (former chairman of Standard Oil)
Lee Atwater (political hitman)
Melvin Purvis (FBI agent who caught John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd)
Pretentious Music Video:
Almost everyone knows that Hootie and the Blowfish went to South Carolina, but they don't really fill the bill for "pretentious", until they have their inevitable critical re-appraisal in 20 years. So let's go with chillwave and hipster fave (and Gamecock alum) Chazwick Bradley Bundick, better known as Toro Y Moi. Here's Toro Y Moi with Still Sound.
LHP Nolan Belcher (6-3, 1.70 ERA, 74.0 IP, 61/5 K/BB)
LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-0, 1.14 ERA, 31.2 IP, 30/10 K/BB)
LHP Jack Wynkoop (5-2, 3.12 ERA, 40.1 IP, 26/7 K/BB)
Damn. Norman Belcher is great. That K/BB ratio is just mind-boggling. And while Montgomery doesn't qualify for the SEC leaderboard due to a low inning total, he's been pretty awesome as well. USC used Wynkoop as a Sunday starter last weekend and he's expected to reprise that role. Three lefties, all with fantastic peripherals and miniscule ERA's. Luckily, the bullpen is a little soft, but the issue is getting to the pen. USC can beat anyone with that rotation.
1B LB Dantzler 340/449/673
SS Joey Pankake 314/383/500
2B Max Schrock 276/393/434
Choosing a team's three more fearsome hitters is usually a difficult task because you tend to start scraping the barrel by the third choice. I usually choose a guy who is interesting amongst a bunch of fairly even hitters. Here, I actually had to make a philosophical choice because there are just so many quality hitters on the team. I chose Schrock just to include a guy who gets on base a lot and has 12 steals on the season. But I left Connor Bright on the cutting room floor, and he has a slugging of 500. Yeah, this team can rake. I swear, it seems Joey Pankake has been playing in Columbia for a decade, but he's only a sophomore. He's like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, he's always been the caretaker. But the headliner here is LB Dantzler. Let's just look at those numbers in awe... and then realize Bregman is hitting 412/460/638 and Katz is hitting 390/478/727. Let's do this.
No. This is a pit fight between the two best baseball programs in the SEC. South Carolina has struggled a bit this year, but they are still one of the premier teams in the nation. LSU has been winning, but they have not looked as dominant recently. Now, some of that is just picking nits because the team looked so awesome a few weeks ago, but some is legit. The hitting has scuffled the last two weeks and the rotation is still a big question mark behind Nola. And for the first time all year, Nola will be matched up a guy who I think is better than he is. LSU needs to find a third starter right quick, and Eades needs to straighten out and fly right, or LSU is facing its first series loss of the season right in the face. These next two weekends are huge for the Tigers - LSU either solidifies itself as one of the best teams in the nation or the team falls back into the pack of teams chasing North Carolina. No excuses for either team, we're both too good for excuses. Win.