South Carolina’s Head Coach Mark Kingston and several Gamecock players spoke to the media following their elimination from the Gainesville Super Regional on Saturday night.
RHP Hurston Waldrep was the man of the hour after leading the Gators to a 4-0 victory behind eight shutout innings inside Condron Ballpark.
“Waldrep was incredible today. There’s no two ways about it. He was incredible,” Head Coach Mark Kingston said during his opening statement. “He would’ve beaten anybody in the country today. He was on a mission and he was as good as I’ve seen in that situation maybe in 20 years. For a guy to pitch like that, to carry his team to Omaha, he put them on his back and you’ve got to give him credit. Disappointed that we won’t be the team going to Omaha, but it wasn’t for lack of fight. We’re one of the best teams in the country. We just ran into a buzzsaw tonight.”
Earlier in the season, South Carolina gave Waldrep his second loss of the season when the Gators squared off against the Gamecocks on April 21st in Columbia, striking for five earned runs off the right hander in his six innings pitched.
Waldrep didn’t let that happen this time around. After one of the worst bullpen sessions of his life, Waldrep delivered one of the best outings of his career. The Thomasville, Georgia native struck out nine of the last 14 batters he faced on Saturday night, totaling 13 strikeouts in the contest.
“We were chasing a lot of pitches. The game was sped up on us and we were just chasing balls in the dirt,” outfielder Ethan Petry said on their difficulties with Waldrep.
“Our approach last time was have the top part of the zone and we weren’t executing that. We were just chasing balls in the dirt. He threw 1-2 counts, 0-2 counts, he’s 15% strikes to lefties and 22% strikes to righties. So, we just had to see it up and we didn’t. We were just chasing down,” Petry said.
Petry, a true freshman, was the only Gamecock in the starting nine that didn’t strike out in the contest.
South Carolina’s starting pitcher Jack Mahoney claimed they were just on the wrong side of it today.
“Part of that was Hurston Waldrep,” Mahoney said. “Again, if you want to see what first round baseball looks like. That’s a first-round guy.”
With the MLB draft and the College World Series right around the corner, Waldrep is getting hot at the right time. Over his last two starts, Waldrep has combined for 15 innings pitched, allowing one run, eight hits, four walks, while striking out 25 batters.
Mahoney also had high praise for Florida’s offense, who totaled three runs against the right hander in his 4.1 innings pitched.
“If you want to see an Omaha lineup, that’s what it looks like man,” Mahoney said. “You can’t throw your “B” stuff out there. To beat this team, you have to have your “A+” stuff. I really can’t say enough about this Florida lineup. I saw them twice. Gave me hell twice.”
Mark Kingston still believes his ballclub is a top eight team in the country.
“I think we are one of the best eight teams in the country, but just because of some things that happened, we had to come on the road for a Super Regional against a team that has a good chance to win the National Championship,” Kingston said on facing the Gators.
Kevin O’Sullivan will surely lean on Hurston Waldrep for another strong start in Omaha as the Gators look to claim their second College World Series title in program history.