GREENVILLE, SC - What a game! It was a tremendous pitchers' duel, and it looked like James Parker would be the Tigers' hero for the 2nd straight game, tying it 2-2 with a leadoff HR in the 9th, but he would ground into a double play with 2 on and no outs in the top of the 11th, and the Gamecocks would hit a pair of doubles to win it in the bottom half. If it had been anyone else up in that situation, I would say lay down a bunt and sac in a run, but as red-hot as Parker was, Monte probably made the right decision. He hates small ball anyway, so for him it was a no-brainer. Parker was 3-4, had homered in his previous at bat and was .533 for the season going into that at bat!
Davis Sharpe was sensational again in his second start, striking out 10 in 4 innings, and the Tigers' pitchers combined for 21 K's, 20 in the first 10 innings. The Tigers opened last weekend's series with 15 K's in 9 innings. As good as Sharpe was on the mound Saturday, they could have used his bat in the lineup. He was supposed to pitch on Friday, and Mat Clark was set to get the start in Greenville, but since Friday's game in Clemson was rained out, Monte decided to go with Sharpe on Saturday.
Despite the loss, I think this has the potential to be a special team. The pitching is phenomenal and deep, and the offense should be just fine. Bear in mind that they were without 3 of their best hitters--Meredith, Hackenberg and Hall--today, and Sharped didn't hit because he pitched. Also, Henderson was their best hitter last season and is still hitless for the season. When he starts hitting again, and get those other guys back, look out! Plus, the freshmen like Grice will improve with experience.
The Tigers had won 10 straight one-run games and 3 straight in extras before tonight. They will go to Columbia on Sunday with freshman Ty Olencuk, a Columbia native, on the mound at 1:30 to try to avoid losing their 2nd Palmetto Series in 3 years after winning 5 straight.