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Baseball America Ranks Gamecocks No. 7 In Preseason Top 25 - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Baseball America Ranks Gamecocks No. 7 In Preseason Top 25

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COLUMBIA, SC -

South Carolina is ranked No. 7 in the nation in theBaseball America Preseason Top 25 as announced on Monday morning.  The Gamecocks begin the 2014 season onFriday, Feb. 14 in the first game of a three-game series at CarolinaStadium.  

South Carolina is one of eight SEC schools to be rankedin the preseason poll, and the highest ranked of all the SEC squads.  Also ranked is Mississippi State (No. 8), LSU(No. 9), Vanderbilt (No. 10), Alabama (No. 21), Florida (No. 23), Texas A&M(No. 24) and Arkansas (No. 25). Virginia is the preseason No. 1 team. 

The Gamecocks return seven position starters, ninepitchers and 18 letterwinners from last year's Super Regional team.  Carolina also features a strong crop ofnewcomers that were ranked the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation earlierthis fall by Baseball America. 

Returnees include junior infielder/outfielder JoeyPankake (.311-11-42), junior catcher Grayson Greiner (.298-4-38), junioroutfielder Connor Bright (.288-4-22), junior outfielder Tanner English(.283-1-25), sophomore infielder Max Schrock (.282-6-39), junior first basemanKyle Martin (.288-2-10) and senior designated hitter Brison Celek (.307-1-18).Also back from last year's weekend rotation is junior left-hander JordanMontgomery (6-1, 1.48 ERA) and freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop (7-3, 3.09ERA). 

Greiner played this past summer for Team USA and was a2013 second-team All-SEC selection. Baseball America ranks Greiner the No. 24best college prospect for the 2014 MLB Draft as well as the No. 2 best catchingprospect in the country. 

Pankake earned second-team Preseason All-America honorsfrom the NCBWA and is one of the top returning hitters in the SEC and thecountry. A participant in last year's Home Run Derby at TD Ameritrade Park inOmaha, Pankake raised his average to .311 last year to go along with 11 homersand 42 RBI and a slugging percentage of .496. Perfect Game USA ranks him No. 30 on the list of top collegedraft-eligible players for the 2014 MLB Draft with Baseball America listing himNo. 40 in the nation. 

Montgomery is back in the fold after a solid sophomorecampaign.  Montgomery's 1.48 ERA in 2013ranked second best among SEC pitchers and No. 11 in the nation.  Montgomery was 6-1 in 79.0 inningspitched.  Opponents hit just .222 againstthe southpaw.  Montgomery's careerpostseason record in two seasons at South Carolina is 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA,surrendering just two runs on 15 hits over 30.2 innings. He has allowed justthree walks while fanning 26 batters in earning wins over Clemson and Arkansasin 2012 and Liberty and North Carolina in 2013. In his last start of the season, he pitched a four-hit shutout in SouthCarolina's 8-0 win over North Carolina in the NCAA Super Regional.  Montgomery's outing was his first completegame of his career.  Only four Tar Heelrunners advanced as far as second base in the win with none reaching third basethe entire game. 

English and Martin contributed in 2013 and are back fortheir junior seasons.  English hit .283(47-for-166) with a .381 on-base percentage with Martin hitting .288(23-for-80).  Both were 2013 NCAARegional All-Tournament team selections with Martin also the NCAA RegionalMVP.  English was at the top of his gamein last year's postseason with a .429 average (9-for-21) with six runs scored,seven RBI as well as five stolen bases in six games played.  Martin hit .500 (6-for-12) in the 2013Regional as well as .391 (9-for-23) average with a .520 on-base percentage inthe six postseason games. 

Schrock and Wynkoop both earned Freshman All-Americahonors with Wynkoop also a SEC All-Freshman team recipient.  Schrock was a second-team selection byBaseball America and the NCBWA after hitting .282 with a .381 on-basepercentage and .419 slugging percentage. Schrock's 14 stolen bases also led the Gamecocks.  Wynkoop went 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA and wasnamed Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball.  He twice won SEC Freshman of the Week honors aswell.

 

BASEBALL AMERICA PRESEASON TOP 25

Team  2013 Record 2013 Rank

   1. Virginia    50-12 11

 2. Oregon State  52-13 4

 3. Indiana 49-16 7

 4. Cal StateFullerton 51-10 10

 5. North CarolinaState      50-16 6

 6. Florida State 47-17 12

 7. South Carolina      43-20 14

 8. MississippiState   51-20 2

 9. Louisiana State     57-11 5

 10. Vanderbilt   54-12 9

 11. Oregon 48-16 17

 12. UCLA   49-17 1

 13. Clemson      40-22 NR

 14.Louisiana-Lafayette      43-20 NR

 15. Rice   44-20 16

 16. Miami  37-25 NR   

 17. North Carolina     59-12 3    

 18. Texas  27-24 NR   

 19. TexasChristian    29-28 NR   

 20. Louisville   51-14 8    

 21. Alabama      35-28 NR   

 22. Kansas State 45-19 13   

 23. Florida      29-30 NR   

 24. Texas A&M    34-19 NR   

 25. Arkansas     39-22 18    

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