For the second straight week, South Carolina is changing things up in its weekend rotation.
The Gamecocks are moving Will Sanders out of the Saturday role and inserting Brett Kerry, who had been used as a versatile piece of the Gamecocks’ bullpen this season but now will slide back into a starting role.
“I think he’ll do very well. Most of the time this year when we’ve asked him to go extended, he’s done very well this weekend and at Vanderbilt,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “We felt it was time to give him a chance to start the game and see how far he can go.”
Kerry is second on the team right now in ERA at 2.25 in 14 appearances with a .239 batting average against and has done well out of the bullpen in both shorter and longer stints.
He has a team-best four saves this year but is also 3-1 in his 36 innings pitched, and in nine SEC appearances he’s 2-1 with three saves and a 2.60 ERA.
Kerry hasn’t started a game this year but has started four games in his career at South Carolina, one of those in the SEC. In 2019 he gave up two earned runs in 6.1 innings at Mississippi State.
The third-year player has the two longest outings of any bullpen arm this season, tossing 5.2 scoreless in a win over Vanderbilt earlier in the season and again this weekend going six innings against Mississippi State and allowing one run in the Gamecocks’ 4-3 walk-off win.
With Kerry sliding into that role, it means the Gamecocks will need to find another closer to go to with options there. Two other pitchers have one save in league play — Daniel Lloyd and Julian Bosnic — and there are options on the back end, Kingston said.
“We have a lot of guys we’re confident can get us those last three outs, whether it’s Bosnic, whether it’s (Andy) Peters, whether it’s Lloyd,” Kingston said. “Obviously Sanders will go back into that r ole like he was earlier in the season where he was really good. We’re confident in those guys that they’ll get the job done.”
The change relieves Will Sanders of his starting duties for the first time since week one of league play at Vanderbilt and will move him to the bullpen.
Sanders is 2-1 in five bullpen appearances (3.1 innings pitched) this season with a two earned runs given up and a WHIP of 1.50.
“He’ll be in much the same role he was earlier in the season. I think he got two decisions against Clemson early in the season getting big outs out of the bullpen,” Kingston said. “That’s the role you can anticipate seeing him in.”
South Carolina (28-18, 12-12 SEC) starts a three-game set with Kentucky Friday with game one scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Brannon Jordan (4-4, 3.52 ERA) will be the game one starter with Thomas Farr (2-5, 3.72 ERA) starting on Sunday.