Mark Kingston knows what the expectations are for South Carolina baseball. That’s why he, as well as the student-athletes, wanted to be here. The Gamecocks were hamstrung by a rash of injuries last year, especially among the pitching staff, which resulted in the program missing the postseason after finishing 27-28 overall and 13-17 in SEC play. Assuming the 2023 Gamecocks aren’t missing half a dozen pitchers again this year (knock wood), Kingston believes this team has what it takes to get back to where they want to be.
“I’m very encouraged and excited by our pitching staff this year,” said Kingston, who begins his sixth season leading the South Carolina program. “As many challenges as we had last year that were out of our control, this year we have the talent, and we have the numbers to hopefully absorb it if we have any injuries. You can never expect to have as many injuries as we had last year, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. If it’s a normal year, we should have the amount of talent and volume on the pitching staff to match up with just about anybody.”
Kingston is confident that the Gamecocks have more than three quality pitchers who can start on weekends. That starts with junior lefthander Will Sanders (7-3, 3.42 ERA), senior righthander Noah Hall (3-5, 4.34 ERA), and junior right-hander Jack Mahoney (3-0, 1.62 ERA in 2021), who did not pitch last year due to injury.
“Will Sanders (pictured below) is an All-SEC caliber pitcher, as is Noah Hall,” Kingston said. “Jack Mahoney was an All-SEC caliber pitcher two years ago before his injury. Those guys could all be very high draft picks.
“You also have to look at guys like (soph.) Matthew Becker (2-4, 4 SV, 5.21 ERA), who had some very bright moments last year with what he did in games against Vanderbilt, Texas, and Tennessee. Then you have Eli Jerzembeck, who has potential to be one of the best freshmen in the country. And there are more as well.”
“The long-term goal is that we want to go to Omaha. That’s the expectation of this program.”
Sophomore Eli Jones (1-1, 5.68 ERA) hopes to be back at full strength after being limited last year due to injury. The back of the bullpen returns sophomore Cade Austin (5-2, 2 SV, 3.17 ERA), and there are other newcomers such as fifth-year transfer Nick Proctor from California (4-1, 1…