South Carolina managed to take two out of three from Auburn on the plains to end a miserable week. In the preceding week Carolina lost leads against Florida to lose the series and followed that up by inexplicably losing to Charleston Southern and the Citadel. At Auburn Carolina dropped the first game and was about to lose the series before making yet another comeback. On Sunday they clinched the series by scoring late to take the lead.
Saturday’s late win and Sunday’s battle were important as far as the standings go, but they were also important for the team to reestablish their identity. At times lately it has looked like USC hasn’t had their typical swagger and hasn’t pulled out some close games. (Though to be fair they’re winning more than their share of close games.) In Auburn they looked like the team from earlier in the season that came from behind, battled and won.
But it would be easy to think that all of the problems are behind this team. They certainly are not. In the last 4 weeks of the regular season the team has a chance to put together some wins, secure their regional and stay in the national seed race. Or, if they play like they did midweek, they will be a 2-seed somewhere.
Going forward someone else has to emerge from the bullpen. There are three quality starters on this team, something few opponents can match. Add to that a good set up man and a strong closer and you have a winning formula. Unfortunately no one else has emerged. Mincey and Seddon can’t, or more properly, shouldn’t pitch three times every weekend. If one or more pitchers could emerge as reliable options, the pitching staff would be much more complete and wouldn’t have to lean so heavily on two arms.
The team would benefit from getting healthy, but there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen. If everyone comes back 100%, then great, that would certainly be ideal. However, this late in the season there’s reason to fear that everyone won’t be back, and even if they do come back, they won’t be themselves. Other players simply have to step up. Coach Holbrook has recruited well; there should be players who can play.
After that, it’s just a matter of putting the hits together and getting the runs across. Baseball is a funny game sometimes. The ball doesn’t fall where you’d like it, or there are bad calls. That is going to happen. There are going to be screw jobs and bad luck, but the reaction of the team to that adversity will determine their fate. Midweek against the Charleston teams didn’t look too good, but the weekend in Auburn was another story. Which one will be the character of this team?