Baseball: Team visits defending national champions
Good thing, since the Tigers (2-2) will be taking on the two-time reigning national champions this weekend. Princeton is heading down to No. 2 South Carolina for a three-game series against the Gamecocks (10-1), starting tonight at 7 p.m. The Gamecocks will undoubtedly be the top competition for the Tigers this season, but they say that they remain undaunted.
“We think that this year we have the talent to compete with any team in America,” junior outfielder John Mishu said.
Princeton is coming off of an impressive opening weekend split with Florida Atlantic. In the four-game series, junior outfielder Steve Harrington, junior infielders Matt Bowman and Alex Flink, sophomore infielder Ryan Albert and freshman infielder Blake Thomsen all contributed multiple hits and RBIs in each game. Senior catcher and co-captain Sam Mulroy picked up where he left off last season, going 7 for 18 through four starts to anchor the offense. Junior pitcher Zak Hermans was recognized as the Ivy League Pitcher of the Week after holding the Owls scoreless through five innings in his first win of the season, and Bowman picked up the second win as a pitcher.
The Tigers will need this depth in their lineup if they hope to compete with the second-ranked Gamecocks. South Carolina’s pitching staff combines for an ERA of 1.70, while Princeton posted a 6.09 ERA in its first weekend out. South Carolina’s only loss was a 6-5 defeat at the hands of rival Clemson, but the Gamecocks still took the three-game series.
Infielder Christian Walker, who boasts a .316 average and a .435 on-base percentage, leads South Carolina’s offense. The bullpen is led by leftie Michael Roth, who has achieved a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. This successful start is nothing but business as usual for Roth; the pitcher was named the College Baseball Player of the Year by CollegeBaseballInsider.com last season along with receiving All-SEC and All-America honors for his 1.06 ERA and 14-3 record.
Roth is not alone. Of the 16 pitchers that have taken the mound for the Gamecocks, eight have an ERA below 1.0.
However, this tough pitching just puts the Tigers one step closer to being ready for the start of Ivy competition on March 31. Compared to the other Ivies, Princeton opened the season with similar results. Only Cornell (4-0) survived with a winning record.
The three-game series kicks off Friday night in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series against the Tigers 3-1, but the teams have not met since 2001.
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