The University of South Carolina Aiken's baseball team has been red hot lately, winning six straight games, and 20 of their last 23. Overall, the Pacers are 23-5 (7-2 in the Peachbelt Conference), and they are ninth in the country.
Head Coach Keny Thomas' recruiting in Columbia County has been a big reason for all the success. Scott Wandless (Greenbrier), Ken Raborn (Evans) and Dustin Tyra (Lakeside) have all played key roles for the Pacers this season.
Scott Wandless (Sr.)
Wandless is closing out a brilliant career for the Pacers. He will go down as one of the finest pitchers to ever toe the rubber at USC Aiken.
This year he has been terrific. He is 5-0 in 7 starts with an ERA of 2.76. He has struck out 54 batters in just 45.2 innings and has yielded only two home runs in 171 batters faced.
He is among the conference leaders in almost every pitching category, with five wins (ranking third), 2.76 ERA (sixth), .222 opposing batting average (seventh) and 54 strikeouts (third)
Ken Raborn (Jr.)
Raborn has emerged as one of the top hitters in the Peach Belt.
He was a solid performer in his first two seasons for the Pacers, and this year he has become one of the team's stars.
Like Wandless, he is among conference leaders in several statistical categories. Raborn plays on the same team as Chad Jacobsen (.573, 15 HR, 50 RBI, who leads the league in all three numbers). If not, he would be getting even more attention.
Raborn is second on the team in batting average at .368, third in homers with six and second in RBI with 36. He also is behind only Jacobsen in on-base percentage (.492) and slugging percentage (.663). He also is in the top 10 in homers and runs scored.
Dustin Tyra (Sr.)
Tyra has not put up the numbers of Raborn or Wandless, but he has done well out of the Pacers' bullpen. The 6-foot, 4-inch 220-pound lefty is 1-0 with a 3.60 era in four appearances. He likely will be counted on as the Pacers get deeper into the conference schedule.
Sickman having big year for the Jags
Former Evans standout Alex Sickman is also having a big year in 2008. He has become Augusta State University's starting catcher and does not appear to be ready to let the job go anytime soon.
Sickman is hitting .333 with two homers and 13 RBI in 22 starts.
He has belted nine doubles. He has helped lead ASU to an 18-12 start this season.
Sickman's backup is former Greenbrier catcher Jeremy Armstrong.
He is hitting .278 with five RBI in limited duty this season.
Another position player, Carl Burrow, of Lakeside, is hitting just .143 as a reserve outfielder.
On the mound, former Greenbrier star Ben Dukes is 2-1 for the Jags this season. The crafty left-hander has appeared in six games, making three starts to this point.
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