Three observations from South Carolina’s sweep at Georgia

South Carolina didn’t blink an eye at the start of SEC play, traveling down to Georgia and sweeping the Bulldogs in impressive fashion.

The Gamecocks (20-1, 3-0 SEC) finished off the sweep with a 12-1 win Sunday, one day after winning both ends of a doubleheader. For the second-straight game, USC forced a run-rule victory and ended the game after seven innings.

USC on Monday moved from No. 16 to No. 11 in the D1Baseball Top 25.

Here’s what we learned about Mark Kingston’s team from the weekend.

This offense is for real

In each of the last two seasons, the Gamecocks got off to hot offensive starts in non-conference play, then cooled off after entering league play.

Though the SEC season is only just beginning, USC’s lineup showed no signs of slowing down in Athens. Coming into the weekend leading the nation in homers and ranking in the top 10 in most offensive categories, the Gamecocks continued to mash against the Bulldogs, outscoring UGA 29-7 over the weekend and hitting eight home runs. The 29 runs is the most USC has scored in an SEC series since 2021.

UGA’s lefty duo of Jaden Woods and Liam Sullivan have stymied most lineups this season, but USC battled Woods deep into Saturday’s first game and chased Sullivan in the fourth inning of Game 2. Hitters produced up and down the lineup all weekend, from Michael Braswell’s pinch-hit, go-ahead double in Game 1 to Will McGillis and Gavin Casas each hitting two home runs in Game 3.

Best hitter a freshman?

The team’s top batter may very well be true freshman Ethan Petry.

Sometimes freshmen can hit a wall against the tougher pitchers of the SEC, but the 6-foot-4, 230-pound slugger looked like the best player on the field against Bulldogs on Saturday. Petry homered three times on the day, hitting an opposite-field shot in Game 1, then knocking two no-doubt blasts in Game 2, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs. He added another RBI single late in Game 3.

Petry came into Sunday leading the team with a .471 batting average and .912 slugging percentage, tied for second on the team with nine home runs. Kingston has said Petry raised the eyebrows of scouts attending batting practice — even though he isn’t eligible for the MLB Draft until his junior season. Petry could play his way into national freshman of the year honors if he continues on his torrid pace.

Pitching staff is deep

In contrast to last year’s injury-ravaged staff, the Gamecocks have an embarrassment of riches on the mound.

As an example of USC’s depth, the team’s third starter, Jack Mahoney, might’ve turned in the best outing of the weekend and has the kind of mid-90s fastball that most teams deploy on Fridays. Mahoney struck out six and held the Bulldogs to one run in six innings Sunday, while both starters Will Sanders and Noah Hall threw seven innings in their respective starts in Saturday’s doubleheader.

Freshman right-hander Eli Jerzembeck and James Hicks have both evolved into useful late-inning weapons out of the bullpen, with Hicks closing out Game 1 and Game 3.

USC baseball schedule this week

Tuesday: at Charlotte, 6 p.m. (ESPN Plus)

Friday: Missouri, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)

Saturday: Missouri, 4 p.m. (SEC Network Plus)

Saturday: Missouri, noon (SEC Network)