By Rixon Lane
There is no denying that the 21st century has been a golden age for South Carolina baseball.
The Gamecocks have won 40+ games and have reached the NCAA Tournament every season since 2000. Some of the greatest players to ever wear a Gamecock uniform have played during this era.
So what would an all-century team look like?
I set out to create an accurate 40-man roster with the best Gamecock baseball players since 2000. This is no simple task.
First, I wanted the ratio of players to be something a manager could use. There are 24 position players and 16 pitchers on this roster.
Also, I didn't want to use duplicate numbers, since actual teams can't have players with the same uniform number. This led to some incredibly hard choices. James Darnell or Steve Pearce at #4? Does #20 go to L.B. Dantzler or Sam Dyson? These were just some of the decisions that had to be made.
Finally, I created a starting lineup and pitching rotation from the 40-man roster, which was nearly impossible.
Here's what I finally came up with.
No. Name Pos.
The shortstop, #7, from Charleston, SC...Drew Meyer
- Meyer gets the nod at short over Steven Tolleson and Bobby Haney. With 72 career steals, he is the ideal leadoff man in the order.
The third baseman, #18, from Jacksonville, FL...Brian Buscher
- Buscher beats out James Darnell and L.B. Dantzler for the start at the hot corner. A career .356 hitter, Buscher can move runners over without needing to sacrifice.
The first baseman, #12, from Goose Creek, SC...Justin Smoak
- This roster is full of first basemen, but none are better than Smoak. The school's career leader in RBIs and walks lands in the three-hole in the order.
The designated hitter, #32, from Sherman Oaks, CA...Yaron Peters
- The DH spot may have been the hardest choice to make with a lineup stacked with power. Peters and his school-record .734 slugging percentage edge out Steve Pearce.
The catcher, #10, from Apex, NC...Landon Powell
- Grayson Greiner was a candidate, but Powell is the easy choice behind home plate. No player in 15 years has hit more doubles than the All-American catcher.
The centerfielder, #19, from Prince George, VA...Jackie Bradley, Jr.
- The Gamecocks have had plenty of talented centerfielders, but no one made it look easier. Injuries were the only things that could stop Bradley at the plate.
The right fielder, #5, from Advance, NC...Whit Merrifield
- If you won the school's first ever national championship in a major sport, you start. Merrifield had a great bat and solid range in the outfield.
The second baseman, #6, from Sullivan's Island, SC...Reese Havens
- He was a shortstop during his time in Columbia, but I had to get Havens in the lineup. He was a .359 hitter in his senior season and had an all-conference caliber glove.
The left fielder, #31, from Cranston, RI...Evan Marzilli
- An absolutely absurd defensive outfielder, Marzilli can also turn over the lineup. He could lay down the bunt and had the speed to beat it out. The entire 2010 outfield makes the staring nine.
And on the mound, #29, from Greer, SC...Michael Roth
- He began his career as a first baseman and wound up as one of the greatest pitchers in college baseball history. No one else gets the ball on Friday night.
Friday - Michael Roth
Saturday - Kip Bouknight
Sunday - Blake Cooper
Mid-week - David Marchbanks, Jordan Montgomery, Matt Campbell
What would your roster/lineup/rotation look like?
Let the debate begin.