There is little doubt that South Carolina is a great baseball state and that goes for both the college and high school levels. South Carolina, Clemson, and Coastal Carolina all bring in top talent each year from the Palmetto State and all are passionate about their school.
Class of 2013 RHP Matt Vogel
Each recruit we spoke with from all three schools believes their team will emerge victorious from the Columbia Regional. We asked them what the keys for their team is to win and advance to the Super Regional as well as about the pressures of playing in a rivalry game.
Here’s what some of the commitments and signees from each school had to say about the Columbia Regional, which begins at Noon on Friday with Clemson and Coastal Carolina doing battle on ESPNU.
South Carolina will play Manhattan on Friday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU. Junior Colby Holmes will start for the Gamecocks against side-armer Taylor Sewitt.
South Carolina recruits
Class of 2012 infielder Max Schrock - @mschrock94 (Chapel Hill, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons) - Obviously, I think South Carolina is going to win. The home field advantage is going to help them out because there is no better fan base than the Gamecock fan base. Beating Manhattan is going to be important. I don’t think the freshmen will feel any pressure. All of the guys have played the whole year and they’ve made the transition to college baseball. The Regional shouldn’t be much more pressure than what they’ve been dealing with all year.
Class of 2012 pitcher/utility player Austin LaBounty - @AustinLaBounty (Gilbert/Gilbert) - I think it’s going to come down to pitching. I feel like our bats are going to be fine. I think it’s going to be a pitchers duel and that’s what’s won it for us in the past. I think there’s got to be some extra pressure. They know they want only one winner out of the three South Carolina teams. They’re all competitive ball clubs and they all believe they can go deep. I think there’s a lot of pressure, especially on Carolina. They’ll be the team that’s looked at to excel past the Regional. I’m excited for it and ready to watch some baseball and hopefully get back to Omaha.
Class of 2013 pitcher Matt Vogel - @tropzvogez_422 (Medford, N.Y/Patchogue Medford) - My pick all the way is South Carolina. I’ve been watching them all season and been watching the other teams in the SEC. It’s a big loss with (Grayson) Greiner, but the Gamecocks have always dealt with adversity and come out on top. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal because they have faith in all their all players. I don’t think it will be that much of an effect on the team or the pitcher. If we’re going against a rival, I want the ball no matter what. I’m a competitor and want to win the game for our team. All I care about is if we win. I want the ball in that situation because I like the excitement and pressure. I like having the team wanting me on the mound. In that situation, I would love to be on the mound. I know all of the South Carolina players are the same way. When I watch Roth when he’s pitching, he’s so into it. You’ve always got to be focused as a pitcher. All the South Carolina players are always focused and wanting to do something good for the team, whether it’s bunting a runner over, playing small ball - just playing the right way.
Class of 2012 pitcher Tyler Jackson - @T_Jackson22 (Piedmont/Wren) - I know the backs are against the wall with Grayson being hurt, but I think we can overcome that. If we get solid pitching, Colby comes out and pitches strong, we can carry momentum into game two. If we can get through game two, there’s no way we’ll lose the third game. … You don’t hear much about South Carolina up here. It’s all about what Clemson is going to do and how they’re going to come back and all the pressure is on Carolina. There’s got to be more pressure with a rivalry and it was intense during the regular season. Coastal has always done well in the past, too, and they don’t want to lose this year. They’re coming in with a little extra, too, so they don’t repeat history. Clemson is looking for revenge against Carolina and we don’t want to let down our hometown crowd. There’s a lot at stake.
Class of 2012 RHP Tyler Jackson
Class of 2012 outfielder Anthony Paulsen - @Anthony_Paulsen (Columbia/Spring Valley) - I think South Carolina will win this weekend because they are and always have been a smart team. Unlike most teams who depend on their so called “power house” players, Carolina has guys who can fill in different positions and understand their role. As long as we play and have fun with the game, I think we will come out on top. The main key is to remain calm no matter how far behind or ahead we are and play the game like we always have.
Class of 2013 outfielder/pitcher Taylor Widener (Aiken/South Aiken) - All I know is you can tell the committee only wants one South Carolina team. It’s going to come down to the pitching. Whoever has the best pitching and defense is going to win. I think the pressure is going to make it a better weekend. They’re used to it. They’re all going to play hard. The freshmen may be a little bit nervous at first, but once you get through that first inning, everyone should settle in.
Class of 2012 infielder George Iskenderian - @GIskenderian7 (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco) - Of course I’m pulling for South Carolina and I think they’ll win, no doubt. Anytime you go into a tournament like that, pitching is definitely the key. Getting a good first inning sets the tempo. Pitching and defense is what wins. The defense has come a long way since the beginning of the year. Michael Roth always puts you in a spot to win, along with Koumas, Holmes and the other guys. There’s definitely extra pressure, but the biggest thing is slowing down the game. You have to approach every game the same way.
Class of 2012 pitcher Wales Toney - @WalesyT (Anderson/T.L. Hanna) - I think it’s pretty exciting that Clemson and Carolina got matched up. The seasons are on the line. Clemson has to get to Carolina’s pitching early. If they let Carolina’s pitchers get into a groove, then they’ll have to play from behind. The hitters for Clemson are going to have to go in and be offensive and give us a chance to win. The bullpen is going to have to pitch good. I think Clemson has a good chance. They’ve been playing pretty good lately except the Wake Forest series. I think South Carolina is good, too, and it’s a good matchup. I haven’t heard much about Coastal but that game is going to be tough and we’re going to have to bring out A game. We can’t take them lightly at all.
Class of 2012 outfielder Andrew Cox - @RudyCox_24 (Belton/Belton-Honea Path) - I’m thrilled about the opportunity Clemson has in front of them at the Columbia Regional. This is absolutely incredible for baseball in the state of South Carolina. Three nationally known baseball programs all in the state of South Carolina in one regional - it doesn’t get much better than that. I think they key for Clemson to go to Columbia and win this weekend is consistency. We’ve definitely had an up and down season from a consistency standpoint. We have the pieces, we have the talent, and we’ve shown we can compete with anybody in the country. If we can put it together for a three week stretch, we will be a dangerous team. We definitely can’t overlook Coastal. They are a well-coached, fundamentally sound team. I’m excited to get this weekend kicked off and see what unfolds in Columbia.
Class of 2012 pitcher Clate Schmidt - @CSchmidt12 (Acworth, Ga./Allatoona) - The pitching needs to stay on top of things. They’ve been really good lately. They need to just stay hot. I think they have a really good chance and drill them in the mouth game one. They need to stay strong as a team, listen to coach Leggett, coach LeCroy and bulldog it. It’s the first step to the College World Series, baby! Richie Shaffer is critical to the offense. He’s a leader on the team. He steps into that role. Against South Carolina, he’s got to step up and strap up. It’s big time now. That’s what you go to college for.
Class of 2012 outfielder Steven Duggar - @StevenDuggar (Duncan/Byrnes) - If the bats come alive at the right time and if our pitching can get us through some tight jams, or keep us out of them, and offense can provide some support early, we have a chance to win. We have to be consistent at the plate and defense has to be good. Pitching has got to be on point. We have a great pitching staff and they just have to do what they’re capable of. I know coach Leggett will put them in the right place. I don’t know if there’s pressure. In-state rivalries, the guys will be jacked up and ready to go, and there will be fuel to the fire, but it’s a Regional and it’s all about getting the win. There will be some pressure there, but the guys are ready to go. From talking to Goose (freshman RHP Daniel Gossett), I think they’re going to be ready to play. It’ll be fun.
Clemson class of 2012 RHP Clate Schmidt
Coastal Carolina recruits
Class of 2012 infielder Connor Owings - @connor_owings (Gilbert/Gilbert) - It’s no doubt the toughest regional out there this year. I like Coastal’s chances because they’re a well-coached team and execute. They do the little things right. The pitching staff has been great all year. They’re an underrated team. They have a lot of dudes who can swing it, guys out of the bullpen, and I’m real excited. Carolina is good as usual, Clemson is good as usual, and Coastal is still right there and a good program. (Starting pitcher Josh) Conway is a big loss but there are so many guys they can put out there. I think they’ll be fine.
Class of 2012 catcher Nick Bell - @NickolasBell (Charleston/Ashley Ridge) - I think the big key is to keep pitching well. They finished with the No. 1 ERA in the nation. They’ve got good hitting and I think they’ll be alright from a pitching standpoint even if they should happen to lose game one. I feel like we know we can beat Clemson. I would say most of the pressure is on the other schools. Coastal is a mid-major school and no one really expects them to do well. I know they can do well. I know they’re just as good as both of those teams. You’re going up against Carolina and Clemson and they’re good, too.
Class of 2012 pitcher/shortstop Alex Cunningham (Duncan/Byrnes) - I think we have a great chance if we keep pitching like we have. They have a great pitching staff and we can put up some runs. We have great coaches and I know they’re going to prepare the guys right. … The numbers of the pitching staff don’t lie. They’ve done a great job on the mound this year. There’s a lot of competition in this Regional. Clemson and Carolina are great baseball teams. They’re all competing to be the best team in South Carolina. All the teams take that very personally. Coastal just has to do it and pull it out.
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