Bulldogs host Gamecocks at Foley Field
Editor's note: No one knows the super regional teams better than their opponents. Will Kimmey talked to college coaches who had faced multiple teams still alive in the NCAA Tournament and offered them anonymity in exchange for their candor.
Athens Super Regional
At Foley Field (all times Eastern)
Saturday, June 10
Game 1 -- South Carolina 15, Georgia 6 ... Watch
Sunday, June 11
Game 2 -- Georgia 11, South Carolina 5
Monday, June 12
Game 3 -- Georgia 11, South Carolina 6 ... Watch
Georgia (47-20) advances to the College World Series.
South Carolina Gamecocks
How They Got Here: Won Charlottesville regional in four games; beat Evansville in the final
CWS History: Eight trips to Omaha, last in 2004
Coach: Ray Tanner (10th season)
|South Carolina's Top Hitters|
|Player (Position)||AVG||OBP||SLG||Key Stats|
|Justin Smoak (1B)||.306||.407||.586||17 2B, 16 HR, 61 RBI|
|Neil Giesler (3B)||.357||.441||.434||9 2B, 36 RBI, 47 R|
|Phil Disher (DH)||.275||.315||.627||5 HR, 16 RBI|
|South Carolina's Top Pitchers|
|Wynn Pelzer (RHP)||5-4||3.63||63 K's, 35 BB, 5 saves, 74.1 IP|
|Mike Cisco (RHP)||7-4||3.57||71 K's, 22 BB, 85.2 IP|
Scouting the Gamecocks: "South Carolina is kind of an enigma.
"They were so hot for a while, then went into the tank. And now in regionals, they got it back with the Disher kid hitting in place of Michael Campbell after he got hurt. They've got good left-handed hitting in Giesler and Robbie Grinestaff and Smoak. You're hoping Smoak and Giesler aren't up with guys in scoring position. Chris Brown is a catalyst.
"In the lineup and on the bench, they have guys who can homer. When they get big hits here and there, that's what makes them effective. Smoak is one of the best freshman hitters in the country. He doesn't have that South Carolina approach of trying to drop bombs and yank everything. He shoots middle of the field. I want to say pitch them backwards because they are very aggressive. If you get them 0-2, they are in a big-time chase mode. A breaking-ball pitcher can have good success with them, hitting with off-speed stuff. That's a recipe for success.
"Pitching's kind of been their downfall. When they lost Arik Hempy [to Tommy John surgery], that really hurt because there's not a legit Friday guy now. Pelzer was awesome out of the bullpen, but now he's starting and I don't like many other guys out there. I love Pelzer and his split, but the other guys are typical South Carolina guys.
"They try to elevate the fastball, bury the breaking ball and throw a lot of off-speed stuff. They are generally up and down; instead of expanding [the strike zone] laterally they expand vertically. The big thing for them is, can they slow teams down? Because they're going to give up some runs. They have arm strength, but they get down in counts and get the ball up. They've got 90-91 [mph fastballs] but it gets straight.
"Their defensive numbers are really good. Reese Havens is talented at shortstop and Giesler does a nice job at third. Trent Kline is a good catcher. It's a typical South Carolina club in that it doesn't beat itself."
How They Got Here: Won Athens regional in five games, beating Florida State twice
CWS History: Four trips to Omaha, last in 2004; one championship, 1990
Coach: David Perno (Fifth season)
|Georgia's Top Hitters|
|Player (Position)||AVG||OBP||SLG||Key Stats|
|Joey Side (CF)||.352||.403||.600||19 2B, 13 HR, 7 3B, 53 R|
|Josh Morris (1B)||.311||.385||.665||23 HR, 14 2B, 66 RBI|
|Gordon Beckham (SS)||.294||.360||.517||17 2B, 12 HR, 52 RBI|
|Georgia's Top Pitchers|
|Joshua Fields (RHP)||3-2||1.77||50 K's, 11 BB, 15 saves, 45.2 IP|
|Brooks Brown (RHP)||7-4||4.17||111 K's, 38 BB, 99.1 IP|
|Rip Warren (LHP)||8-2||2.84||67 K's, 20 BB, 66.2 IP|
Scouting the Bulldogs: "This is the best team in the league to me. They've got talent and prospects on the mound and in the lineup. They've been swinging the bats really well. I don't think they have an automatic out in the lineup -- it's good 1-9 or at least 1-7. I love Joey Side. You don't want to see him up with runners on. You can't make mistakes to Morris or he'll hammer them. He hit 23 home runs, but you feel like you can pitch to him; especially, with some velocity, you can get in on him.
"I like their offensive approach. [New hitting coach] Doug Sisson made a dramatic difference in their hitters' approaches and team demeanor. They're calm and they play the game the right way. The same kids were there last year, but they're better. They stay on the baseball, trying to hammer it from left-center to right-center.
"You better be able to pitch, and they're pitching better now than what they did at the beginning of the year. Rip Warren is good now. Trevor Holder was good. You know what Brown brings -- power stuff -- even if he's a little erratic. They're getting key quality outings from these guys. They've got a really nice mix. Mickey Westphal is a crafty senior lefty who's done a nice job of pitching. Nathan Moreau is good as a freshman, and they have a stud in the bullpen [Fields].
"They can mix and match with Warren to chase lefties and Fields has been lights out -- up to 95 [mph] with a breaking ball that's good. It's a seven-inning game, with Warren as a setup guy and Fields blowing it out. That gives them a lot of confidence. Westphal, a soft lefty, doesn't overpower you. Take a middle-of-the-field and changeup approach; you can't get too big or undisciplined against him. ... Brown's got a good arm and then [they bring in] another lefty with a good arm. That's three looks in three days.
"I really like Beckham at short and [Jason] Jacobs behind the plate -- that's a good move with him. Side is a premium defender in center. With him, Bobby Felmy and Jonathan Wyatt, they cover the outfield really well. But Ryan Peisel at third you can exploit."
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.