South Carolina forsakes the friendly confines of Carolina Stadium for Foley Field this weekend.
South Carolina (29-8, 11-4 SEC) travels to Athens this weekend to take on the Georgia Bulldogs (12-25, 3-12 SEC). I know. It's shocking, but somehow UGA managed to win 3 whole SEC games this year. Don't discount the dogs this weekend, though. They're on a torrid hot streak, having just shellacked Winthrop 4-2 on Wednesday night. What's that you say? Carolina beat it's mid-week cupcake (USC Upstate) by the exact same margin? And Clemson beat the very same mid-week cupcake by an impressive margin just one day later? Hmmmm. Clearly there's more to this baseball thing than meets the eye.
More "analysis" after the jump.
Georgia is batting .285 coming into this weekend's series as compared with Carolina's .291. That's good for twelfth and eleventh in the SEC, respectively. The league average, for comparison, is .309. I really don't have an answer for why USC is hitting so poorly this year, but if the Gamecocks are ever going to get their groove back, they might want to start against UGA. The Dawgs' staff ERA is a meaty 8.48. Carolina, on the other hand, is still leading the league at 3.24.
So it seems the difference between these two teams' markedly different win total lies solely in their pitching staffs. If you had told me two years ago that Carolina would be leading the league in pitching but practically last in hitting, I wouldn't have believed you. It appears that things have reversed for the moment. If Carolina wants to be a legitimate championship contender, they'll need to work out their offensive kinks pronto. In the mean time, USC will have to keep relying on the arms of its hurlers. Vindication, thy name is Mark Calvi.
Meanwhile, T. Kyle King over at Dawg Sports is cranking up the pessimism dial. King predicts a Gamecocks sweep this weekend. That's all well and good, but let's not get carried away with ourselves. King has to this point predicted no less than four other sweeps of the Dawgs, but only two have come to fruition. UGA managed to pull out games against Mississippi State and LSU(!). Strangely, no sweep was predicted against Ole Miss. Of course, UGA has also suffered embarrassing sweeps at the hands of Florida State, Auburn, and Ga. Tech (thus far) which King has not predicted. To be honest, I think his sweep predicting skills are somewhat suspect, but I like where his mind is at.
Given the current state of UGA baseball, though, I'm going to have to agree with T. Kyle King on this one. USC's pitching had been great all season long, and facing a pitching staff with a combined 8.48 ERA should be just what the doctor ordered for Gamecock hitters. If ever there was a series we should sweep outside of Duquesne, this one is it. If Carolina wants to make a serious run at the SEC regular season title, it needs to sweep UGA this weekend in order to keep pace with Arkansas, who is already 1 game ahead. I'll be looking for the Gamecocks to come out focused this weekend against a traditional rival. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 52-46.