South Carolina pounded Presbyterian College Tuesday night, scoring 14 runs on 15 hits to improve to 4-0 on the season.
And though it came against a small in-state school and an inferior opponent, the victory was significant for two reasons.
One, these are the type of mid-week games South Carolina has had trouble with in the past two seasons, losing eight games to smaller programs, most of them on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. Over the past two years, South Carolina has lost to Gardner-Webb, VMI, NC A&T, The Citadel, Furman (twice), Charleston Southern and PC.
Two, the Gamecocks got an impressive debut from starting pitcher Thomas Farr, a junior-college transfer making his first appearance in more than a year due to injuries. Farr, a hard-throwing right-hander, was expected to play a key role on the pitching staff this season but had been brought along slowly during the offseason. He did not pitch in the fall and had just two outings in spring scrimmages before going 4.2 innings in the 14-3 win Tuesday night.
That is the kind of pitching performance South Carolina needs to avoid mid-week upsets that could hurt them come tournment time. Farr dominated PC early with a 94-95 fastball. He allowed just two runs on three hits and struck out five.
“Power arms win generally, especially if they throw strikes and have secondary pitches,” head coach Mark Kignston said. “You need to win as many of the mid-week games as you can because they add up over the course of the year and they determine how far you go into the postseason and where you are placed and do you get to host. Having an elite arm like that is definitley an advantage.”
Farr, a redshirt sophomore from Tyrone, Ga., threw 67.2 innings as a freshman at N.W. Florida State College two years ago but pitched just 13 innings last season before being shut down. He had not pitched in a real game in almost a year before taking the mound Tuesday night.
“Being a compeititor, it’s tough to sit out the game you have played your whole life, but when you get hurt, you can’t rush it back because if you rush it back you are just going to hurt yourself again,” Farr said. “It was a long wait, but I think it went really well for the circumstances. It was frustrating but it’s equally as nice when you get back out there and finally get to do what you have been wanting to do for a while.”
Farr, who is considered a top 100 prospect for this year’s MLB Draft, chose South Carolina after going to dinner with pitching coach Skylar Meade during his recruiting visit. Meade’s plan for him was similar to his program in junior college and he liked what he saw at Founders Park.
“I thought me and Coach Meade connected very well and his thoughts on baseball aligned really well with mine,” Farr said. “I felt Coach Meade would be best for me. … I look forward to helping this team out.”
South Carolina also got an encouraging debut Tuesday from right-hander Andrew Peters, another highly regarded junior-college transfer. A 21st-round draft pick last year, Peters threw one scoreless inning as he conitnues to bounce back from Tommy John surgery. If Farr and Peters continue to make progress, South Carolina should have enough quality starting pitchers to prevent any more mid-week upsets.