College : : Story
Friday, June 08, 2012

Preview: Columbia SR

Kendall Rogers        
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Oklahoma (42-23) vs. South Carolina (43-17)

National rank by PG: Oklahoma (15), South Carolina (7)
When: Saturday (6/9), 8 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Sunday (6/10), 8 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Monday (6/11), 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Where: Carolina Stadium (8,000) in Columbia, S.C.
College World Series appearances: Oklahoma (10), South Carolina (10)
The pick: South Carolina

Columbia Super Regional: Who has the edge?
Starting pitching

It's extremely difficult to decide between the two starting rotations for a good reason -- both teams enter the weekend with very solid rotations. In the end, though, we give the slightest of edges to South Carolina.

Oklahoma really has pitched well lately with Jordan John and Jonathan Gray leading the way. John has a 2.26 ERA in 119 2/3 innings, and has struck out 104 and walked 31, while Gray has a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and a 3.32 ERA in 97 2/3 innings. He has struck out 96 and walked 39, while teams are hitting him at a .271 clip.

Also keep an eye on Dillon Overton. Overton has started 16 games and made 21 total appearances and has a 3.16 ERA in 116 2/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 120 and walked 24.

For the Gamecocks, it doesn't get much better than left-hander Michael Roth, who has a 2.68 ERA in 107 1/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, right-hander Colby Holmes, who can dial up his fastball to 91-92 at times, has a 3.00 ERA in 69 innings. It's probably safe to list freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery as the starter for a potential Game Three. Montgomery was very solid last weekend in the Columbia Regional and has a 4.05 ERA in 66 2/3 innings of work.

Oklahoma has one of the nation's elite relievers in Steven Okert, but it's the Gamecocks who enter the weekend with the better bullpen.

Right-handed pitcher Matt Price obviously leads the Gamecocks bullpen. He has appeared in 23 games (started five) and has a 3.63 ERA in 67 innings. He also has recorded 10 saves and is limiting teams to a .197 batting average.

Tyler Webb has appeared in 33 games and has a 2.01 ERA in 44 2/3 innings and Patrick Sullivan and Evan Beal each have ERAs below 3.90, with Sullivan having made 13 appearances and Beal, 26.

Also keep an eye on gritty right-hander Forrest Koumas, who has appeared in 17 games and has a 4.56 ERA in 25 2/3 innings. Koumas missed last week with an injury, so it'll be interesting to see how much he factors into the equation. For the Sooners, Okert also is as good as it gets. He has appeared in 29 games and has a 2.78 ERA in 81 innings of work. He also has struck out 75 and walked 35, while teams are hitting him at a .228 clip.

Don't look for a lot of runs to be scored this weekend. To say the least, both clubs usually leave something to be desired offensively, though, both have had some good moments in the last week.

Like some other categories, the Gamecocks have a slight edge entering the weekend. South Carolina has a .271 batting average, while the Sooners are hitting .265.

The Gamecocks are led at the plate by hard-hitting first baseman Christian Walker, who's hitting .319 with 11 doubles, 11 homers and 53 RBIs, while freshman outfielder Tanner English is hitting .307 with 21 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on outfielder Evan Marzilli (.288/2/30), shortstop Joey Pankake (.286/2/25), third baseman LB Dantzler (.260/9/44) and second baseman Chase Vergason (.250/1/7). Also, veteran Adam Matthews has power potential with a .241 average, five homers and 25 RBIs, while catcher Grayson Greiner could return in some facet this weekend.

For the Sooners, keep an eye on Max White, who's hitting a team-best .339 with 17 doubles, two homers and 55 RBIs. Meanwhile, Matt Oberste has been clutch lately and is hitting .331 with six homers and 22 RBIs. Also, Jack Mayfield and Erik Ross are good athletes to watch, though, both are hitting just .281 and .270, respectively, while Cody Reine had smacked six homers and knocked in 33 runs.

Both the Sooners and Gamecocks enter the weekend fielding at solid clips, but it's the Gamecocks that have the advantage in this category, fielding .980 as a club compared to .968 for the Sooners.

Going more in-depth ,though, it's easy to see why the Gamecocks have an advantage. Catcher Dante Rosenberg did a tremendous job replacing Grayson Greiner last weekend, LB Dantzler is an outstanding third baseman with a .975 fielding percentage, freshman shortstop Joey Pankake has evolved into a solid shortstop, second baseman Chase Vergason is very solid and first baseman Christian Walker is very consistent at his position.

The Gamecocks also have a seasoned and talented outfield that covers a lot of ground with Tanner English, Adam Matthews and Evan Marzilli leading the way.

The Sooners have a solid middle infield with Jack Mayfield and Caleb Dnt as the ringleaders, while third baseman Garrett Carey has been solid in the field.

Is there any doubt who has the edge in the intangibles department?

It simply doesn't get better than South Carolina when it comes to clutch play in the postseason. The Gamecocks have some veterans in some key positions. For instance, the weekend rotation is led by senior left-hander Michael Roth, while junior righty Matt Price leads the bullpen.

South Carolina also has several great leaders, including outfielder Adam Matthews, and of course, Roth.

For the Sooners, the big thing in their favor right now is just hot play. OU, very similar to its College World Series run a couple of seasons ago, is playing a terrific brand of baseball and is extremely confident entering the weekend.

Something must give between two hot teams.

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