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What UVA Baseball fans need to know about South Carolina

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(© Sean Gladwell – stock.adobe.com)

South Carolina junior right-hander Brett Kerry got his first start of the 2021 season two weeks ago at Kentucky, striking out 10 in a 9-0 four-hit shutout back on May 15.

Now Kerry (5-1, 1.90 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 83K/9BB in 52.0 IP) is set to get the ball in the Columbia Regional opener on Friday at noon against Virginia.

Kerry followed up his effort at UK with another stellar outing at Tennessee on May 21, getting the win against the Vols with seven innings of work in which he allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out eight.

What stands out about both performances: he didn’t walk a batter in either, and in the complete-game win at Kentucky, he needed only 94 pitches to get 27 outs, with 10 of the outs being via the K.

Makes you wonder why it took USC coach Mark Kingston so long to give Kerry the ball, though he was quite the weapon in the bullpen, recording four saves in his 14 relief appearances, and also going three or more innings in long relief four more times.

Among the scary numbers for Kerry: 14.4 Ks/9, 1.6 BBs/9, two wild pitches and no hit batters in 52 innings, .224 opponent batting average.

And then this: South Carolina was 14-2 in games in which he pitched this year.

Power in the middle

Call him the one that got away – junior catcher Will Clarke, a native of Forest and graduate of Liberty Christian.

Clarke leads USC with 22 homers – for context, Virginia has 35 as a team in 2021 – and his slash line is .275/.443/.667, with an 1.100 OPS, which is just absurd.

More absurd is that he’s one of four regulars in double digits in homers – along with Brady Allen (13) and Braylen Wiemer and Andrew Eyster (both with 11).

The Gamecocks are built offensively like a lot of what you see in MLB – around the long ball, not as much around batting average, on-base percentage, small ball.

The team hit an SEC-low .250 in 2021, and averages 5.77 runs per game, just a tick better than Virginia’s 5.73 runs per game.

It will be incumbent upon UVA starter Andrew Abbott (8-5, 2.63 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 136K/28BB in 89.0 IP) to keep the bases clear ahead of what feels like will be in the inevitable homer or two (Abbott surrendered 11 homers, 1.11/9, in 2021).

Bullpen

Kingston has some arms in his A bullpen for the late innings.

Julian Bosnic (3-2, 3.02 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 72K/22BB in 44.2 IP) can get a two-inning save if necessary.

Also be on the lookout for Jack Mahoney (3-0, 1.62 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 39K/8BB in 33.1 IP), Daniel Lloyd (0-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 36K/15BB in 35 IP) and Andrew Peters (4-1, 3.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 45K/13BB in 32.1 IP).

Story by Chris Graham


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