Before Friday’s game against the Chickens, Spencer Kieboom picked up a SC bat and felt it warm to the touch, as if it had been in an oven beforehand. He mentioned it to Leggett who probably just noted it for reference later.
In Friday’s contest though, all 6 gamecock runs in the 6-3 win were via longball. Three 2-run homers from Walker, Thomas, and Scott Wingo in the 2nd, 5th, and 8th accounted for all the scoring. Clemson’s 3 runs scored as a result of an earlier error in the 2nd against Michael Roth. In Saturday's 10-5 Tiger win, Jackie Bradley took a fastball that caught the outer half of the plate and punched it over the LF wall, and Jack questioned his bat.
Taking a ball the other way like that (Bradley batted LH) shows strength, or maybe a juiced bat. The umpires picked it up and examined it, and seemed to find no fault. I didn’t hear if they forbid Bradley to continue using it in the game or not, but after the 5-4 clucker win yesterday this issue really blew up between Tanner and Leggett as you all know. Tanner is upset and their relationship appears strained or nonexistent now, not that I care.
"The whole thing was a bunch shenanigans, I don’t think that’s what this rivalry should be about. It’s two very good baseball teams at the collegiate level playing against each other. That’s where it should start and that’s where it should end. That’s the way I feel.
"We’ve had some great, great games. Tonight was great. That’s what it should be about. We shouldn’t have this conversation. I’m not happy about having it. I’m telling you how I feel. For many years I never tell you how I feel but I’m telling you tonight."
"He called the bat out. I guess when Shaffer hit one 600 feet I should’ve gone out there, I didn’t appreciate it, I’m offended by it. I don’t cheat. I don’t allow my players to cheat. I haven’t done anything wrong. I felt like we were called out a little bit."
I don't see any outright acknowledgement that they did warm the bats in his comments anywhere.
"After reading that and listening to it, I felt like it was important we talk about it," Leggett said Wednesday afternoon. "We are both rational, passionate people who care about what we are doing. We want to do things the right way all the time. We both have good programs, and I just felt like we needed to put the focus back on baseball and the players and the programs and all of the good things that have happened."
"I wanted to address some things and move on," Leggett said. "Coach Tanner said some things in his postgame press conference, and I wanted everyone to know that I made a call down there today and we had a good 45 minute call with each other. We felt bad that the effort, a great effort, by both teams was overshadowed by events.
"I wanted to try and get past that and get to the point where we can play baseball and start moving forward. Obviously, we are not going to agree on everything, but that is the nature of the game and the rivalry. We apologized to each other and I want everyone to know that step was taken so we can move on. It was a very productive discussion."
I wouldn't have apologized, I'd have told Tanner to go to hell.
Warming bats is something that happens up north far more than here, and in college baseball there are no rules against it. In softball I believe there are rules on this. Warming up a bat can alter its coefficient of restitution, because depending on its thickness the elasticity could be changed, but I don’t see how it could be anything more than a negligible change, i.e., not enough to make a fly ball into a home run. The gamecocks did hit 6 home runs in the series however. I would have to see the specifications on the aluminum bat construction to be sure one way or the other, but I would call this a red herring. As a baseball coach I’d question it just to get some mental advantage over the opponent. It is not like the umpires can check the coefficient during gameplay.
After this series I’m left with some good and bad impressions of this team. Scott Weismann has yet to look like a true #1 starter. I don’t see much improvement over the end of last season with him, and the stamina as a starter appears questionable. He seems like a 6-inning guy to me no matter what. I know Jack loves pulling guys too early but I want a #1 who can go 7 or 8 regularly. Kevin Brady looks like a #1 starter, and has the stuff to do it….but left with elbow tightness early Saturday afternoon and there has been no official word on it from Clemson yet. I imagine an MRI will be or has been done. As of this writing I have not heard anything outside of the press either.
David Haselden really impressed me last night. Last year he was good for about an inning or two and then would implode on himself. His velocity was low-mid 90s (Fluor Field’s radar gun cannot be trusted) and he spotted his fastball really well. The sinker had really good movement and his offspeed stuff was just as good. His pitch count over the two days of work (he pitched an inning Saturday) was around 100, so I don’t have an issue with removing him from the game last night, unlike many of you. I think we have our 3rd starter with him, assuming Brady is back in a few weeks.
Our pen needs a little work. Frederick appeared shaky in relief twice. Firth has not been so hot out there. Joseph Moorefield will end up overworked as the only solid lefty, and that could ruin him.
The defense is better this year but the inability to get a key bunt down or hustle in the outfield from Epps, as well as the tendency to take called 3rd strikes really ticked me off. Why do we constantly sit and take with 2 strikes? Schaus took a 3rd strike in a key situation Saturday, and McGibbon took 3 without moving his bat to end the game last night. One is a senior and the other a freshman who likes to hack. This was a big complaint of mine with Riginos and I’m still seeing it. You protect the plate with 2 strikes, and fight off anything close. You never ever take a 3rd strike, or anything close, with RISP or to end the game. I don’t understand why we do it. That inability in the clutch is why we lose to Sakerlina. We had multiple chances against them last night and didn’t capitalize, just as in the CWS.
As far as I’m concerned, Chris Epps should’ve been yanked in the middle of the inning Andruw Jones-style. While his hitting has been a little better this year, he’s still streaky as hell at the plate and the only thing he does week-to-week consistently is strikeout or walk. Having a guy at the top of the order who takes a lot is useful, but I’d rather start one of the freshmen and take my chances. I can’t stand lack of hustle in the OF.
Last night’s decision to pull Phil Pohl for McGibbon is questionable, but not one I find great fault with. The way our freshmen have been hitting, particularly McGibbon, probably gave Jack the confidence to try it. I would’ve left the more experienced guy in there in that situation, but I think Jon is a future star player here and I don’t think this warrants much complaint.
Its time to see if we can bounce back and get the ACC. We face Top 10 Virginia this coming weekend.
For now a prime example of gamecock fandom: