17. USC AIKEN PACERS (37-18)
Final 2012 Ranking: Not Ranked
When the Southeast Regionals were announced last spring there was much speculation that the Pacers’ 2012 résumé warranted their inclusion into the extended postseason. However USCA was overlooked in favor of Catawba and the Pacers were forced to watch as the Indians, a team the Pacers had won their season series with, take their spot in the tournament and advance to Cary. Motivated by last season’s snub the Pacers are ready to hit the field and eliminate all doubt they belong in regional and national title considerations. Head Coach Kenny Thomas, who enters the season 13 wins away from 1,000 in his career, has a team capable of making the move to Cary, but will need some players to step up if they are to make the journey.
The offense has two big holes to fill in the departures of Stephen Carmon, a 10th round San Diego draft pick and Nick Aranas, one of the most prolific players in Pacer history.
Looking to step up to the plate to take control of the offense will be First Team All Peach Belt performer Josh Miller who hit .376 last season and led the club with 57 RBI. Rejoining him in the heart of the Pacer batting order will be PBC Freshman of the Year Will Tankersley who led USCA with a .377 batting average, 11 homeruns and .649 slugging percentage. Together they will be looking to drive in Ty Barkell who finished his freshman season by hitting .353 and centerfielder Bryce Baur who was third on the club hitting .368. The Pacers were also fortunate to land soft handed second baseman Ryan Metzler from Siena. Metzler batted .291 for the Saints last season which was good for third on the team. Incoming freshman Sean Miller could give the Pacers a second consecutive PBC Freshman of the Year if he develops as anticipated.
The Pacers’ pitching prospects are sound with a trio of hurlers who went a combined 23-7 last season. Derek Beasley had a 3.46 ERA and fanned 89 batters in 75.1 innings, Wyatt Brown led the team with a 2.36 ERA and had a 7-2 record and Ryan Milewaski was named to the Second Team All-PBC after going 7-1 with a 3.99 ERA. Each of the three displayed excellent control, only issuing a total of 52 walks between them in over 217 innings pitched. The Pacers will also have Taylor Grover back in the bullpen. The closer earned seven saves while striking out 31 batters in 18.2 innings and only allowed opponents to hit.219 against him.