The South Carolina baseball team held its lone scrimmage against outside competition on Saturday.
The Gamecocks and UNC Wilmington played a pair of six-inning games at Founders Park. It is the third year the Gamecocks played a fall scrimmage against outside competition since the NCAA allowed teams to do so. In 2018 and 2019, Carolina had a home-and-home with both N.C. State and Georgia Tech.
The first game ended in a 7-7 tie as USC rallied to tie it but stranded bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. Andrew Eyster provided the biggest spark in the game by hitting a 400-foot homer in the first game.
In Game 2, South Carolina scored five runs in the fifth on just one hit to defeat the Seahawks, 8-4. Braylen Wimmer had a two-run single for the lone hit in the fifth inning.
“We saw a lot of good things for the most part, a couple things we need to work on,” USC baseball coach Mark Kingston said. “We started five freshmen in the first game, and I don’t know how many in the second game. Today was a big day in our program getting guys on our field playing in a game. The winning and losing is secondary to getting new guys on our field.”
Which new players stood out
As Kingston mentioned, a lot of the new players on the Gamecocks roster got a chance to play and did definitely have a chance to make an impact.
Virginia Tech transfer Kevin Maddon started at third in the first game and second in Game 2. Madden had three hits including an RBI single.
Missouri transfer Brandt Belk was 2 for 4 with two RBI in the first game.
Michael Braswell and Thad Ector, the two highest-ranked high school signees in USC’s signing class, showed flashes and Ector had two hits in the second game and played in center field.
Talmadge Lecroy, a freshman from TL Hanna, had an RBI single in the first game.
“We had a lot of new guys that did really good things,” Kingston said. These freshmen can really play,” Kingston said. “I don’t think we will start five freshmen on SEC game day, but it is good to see them when we do need them, they will be very capable.”
Braswell will help in a lot of ways
Braswell is going to help USC all over the field and even on the mound. He pitched a scoreless sixth inning in Game 2.
Braswell came to the program with lofty credentials and was a top 100 MLB Draft prospect before he took his name out of the draft. As a senior at Campbell High in Georgia, he hit .447 with two homers and 16 RBI and stole 29 bases in 34 attempts.
On the mound, Braswell struck out 41 in 28 innings and had a 1.00 ERA.
“He is a two-way guy,” Kingston said of Braswell. “He was an accomplished shortstop in high school. Between (Josiah) Sightler being a two-way guy and Braswell and Julian Bosnic, we have guys that could do that.”
Hicks steadies after rough start
With Will Sanders and Julian Bosnic occupying the top two spots taken in South Carolina’s weekend rotation, James Hicks is the likely candidate to be the team’s Sunday starter.
Hicks pitched the first three innings in the first game. He allowed four runs in the first inning but settled down and had great command following the rocky start.
“The first inning he struggled and then he settled in after that,” Kingston said of Hicks. “That is a big part of what we have to do with our new players and pitchers. We need to find out what works and makes them tick. That is why in a scrimmage like this he will be able to look at the video and get with (pitching) coach (Justin) Parker and see what worked and what didn’t. Then we can make these adjustments.”
Hicks came to USC from Crowder Junior College in Missouri. In 15 starts last year, he was 11-3 with 89 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings.
Starting lineups from game to game
Game 1: Brandt Belk 1B; Braelyn Wimmer 2B; Josiah Sightler DH; Andrew Eyster RF; Carson Hornung LF; Cole Messina DH; Kevin Madden 3B; Michael Braswell SS; Talmadge LeCroy C; Evan Stone CF; James Hicks P
Game 2: Brandt Belk LF; Michael Braswell, DH; Braelyn Wimmer SS/3B; Cole Messina C; Carson Hornung, DH; Kevin Madden 2B; Vyas Valcincius 1B; Elijah Lambros CF; Jalen Vasquez, 3B/SS; Josiah Sightler P
Garnet and Black World Series
When: Next weekend, TBA
Where: Founders Park