COLUMBIA -- Adam Hill will be taking the mound as South Carolina’s permanent Friday night starter, a moment that’s been two years in the making.
“There’s definitely a difference environment-wise, but I’m going to attack it like any other game,” he said. “If that’s where I’m pitching for us then I’m going to go out there, attack hitters and try and go deep in the game for us. That’s what I’ve always tried to do here.”
Hill anchored the front end of the Gamecock rotation three times last season, filling in for an injured Clarke Schmidt a few times before Wil Crowe took over as the eventual marquee pitcher on staff.
Other than that, Hill’s been primarily the Sunday starter for South Carolina, waiting patiently behind a slew of All-Americans in Schmidt, Crowe and Braden Webb.
In that time, he was able to absorb as much as he could from those three guys, all of whom are currently in a major league team’s organization.
Now he'll get the challenge of facing teams' best lineup and going head-to-head with every team's front-end pitcher.
“Talking to Wil and Clarke, guys who’ve been there before, will help too," Hill said. "It’s just using those experiences and picking those guys’ brains, I think I’ll be ready to go for whatever comes up.”
This summer he really attacked getting better, pitching in the premier college summer league in the country: the Cape Cod League. He had a 2.76 ERA in three starts for the Chatham Anglers.
He came back to Columbia after the stint up there and started to work out with Cody Morris, who was also in town bulking up for the season.
The two worked out together the rest of the summer, getting stronger and ironing out kinks in their games.
One of the biggest ones for Hill, he said, was building his stamina so he can go deeper in games.
In 13 regular-season starts, Hill went longer than six innings only once and topped 100 pitches eight times, averaging just shy of 99 pitches per outing.
To combat that, he’s working on attacking hitters early in counts and incorporating a curve ball into his arsenal.
“Guys that go deep in games know when to get quick outs and have the ability to throw enough strikes and have enough command to get those outs,” head coach Mark Kingston said.
The Gamecocks will take on VMI Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. with Hill finally getting the ball as the rotation’s ace.
It’s different for Hill being the oldest guy on a staff. Each of the two previous years, he was the youngest in terms of age and experience on the team.
Now he’s the only pitcher currently on staff that’s pitched at least 40 innings in his career. So regardless of who takes the last two spots in the rotation, Hill will be the grizzled veteran on the weekend.
Three candidates vying for those spots are new to the team this year: Ridge Chapman, Logan Chapman and Carmen Mlodzinski. They’re young, but Hill thinks they’d be solid candidates to back him up in the rotation.
“Those guys have jumped right in here and attacked college baseball. We have very good hitters and they’ve attacked our hitters and handled them really well,” he said. “It comes down to a mentality thing. They have to not make it bigger than what it is, go out there and pitch their game.”