Ole Miss vs South Carolina: Series preview, radio, online streaming info, and more

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks will face another top-25 team as they open conference play against the Ole Miss Rebels this weekend

The South Carolina Gamecocks (16-0) will face the Ole Miss Rebels (16-2) in a three-game series this weekend to open SEC play. The Gamecocks are ranked first in every major poll except Perfect Game (where they are third), while the Rebels' rank varies, ranging from 12th (USA Today) to 24th (Perfect Game). South Carolina leads the all-time series between the schools 30-21.

The Gamecocks are mostly healthy heading into conference play this weekend. Coach Holbrook said on Thursday that some cold and flu type sickness has gone around the team, but that everyone should be ready to go for the weekend. That includes Joey Pankake, who has missed two games due to a tweaked hamstring, but will likely play Friday night. Max Schrock (ankle) is still "doubtful" and though Holbrook didn't rule him out completely, he said the chances of Schrock playing Friday are 50-50 at best. It's likely that if Pankake returns to third, DC Arendas will fill in at second base for Schrock again.

Both the Rebels and the Gamecocks have very solid starting pitching rotations, and runs could be hard to come by this weekend. On Friday junior left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery will be starting opposite Ole Miss's junior right-hander, Chris Ellis. Montgomery has an ERA of 1.99, 25 strikeouts and 8 walks this season. Five of those walks came against Clemson in an uncharacteristically shaky start (though he still tallied nine strikeouts that night). The Gamecocks will likely need Montgomery to be a little steadier on Friday for a realistic chance to get the win.

Chris Ellis has only allowed 12 hits and no earned runs in his four starts this season.  Holbrook commented on Ellis on Thursday, saying that "if you look at his stats, we don't have a chance. Luckily the game is not played on paper."  On Saturday, two sophomore left-handed pitchers will take the mound. The Gamecocks' starter, Jack Wynkoop has an ERA of 1.37, with 24 strikeouts and 3 walks. The Rebels' will start Christian Trent, who has a 3.96 ERA and an impressive 25 strikeouts to only 1 walk.  Sunday's starters will be freshman right-hander Wil Crowe and junior right-hander Sam Smith. South Carolina's Crowe has continued to impress in his first season as a Gamecock, and now has an ERA of 0.99 with 21 strikeouts and 3 walks. Smith has an ERA of 1.61 with 13 strikeouts and 6 walks.

Ole Miss has had a great start to the season, with their only two losses coming in a game against Memphis and in the third game of a series against Georgia State. While neither of those teams are powerhouses, both are decent teams and do have winning records so far this season. Ole Miss has swept several teams, including Stetson, UCF, and Arkansas-Little Rock. Like the Gamecocks, the Rebels have not had a particularly tough schedule to begin the season, beating mostly mediocre teams. The Gamecocks hold the edge in experience against ranked competition by virtue of their earlier match-up against Clemson, and they demonstrated the ability to rally and perform well in key situations during that series. The Rebels have performed well in tight situations too and lay claim to a couple of comeback wins of their own, as well as three victories in extra-inning games. However, unlike the Gamecocks, the Rebels have come up short in two of their games.

The Gamecocks and the Rebels are very similar teams on paper. The Rebels have a fielding percentage of .982 and the Gamecocks are at .981. Like the Gamecocks, the Rebels have excellent pitching, sporting a team ERA of 1.88 and with opponents hitting only .198 against them. They have six pitchers that have not allowed an earned run. The Gamecocks have an ERA of 1.12 with opponents hitting .196 against them. South Carolina still has nine pitchers that have not allowed an earned run and has nine shutouts now as well. The Rebels are hitting .323 with a .394 on-base percentage, while the Gamecocks are hitting .316 and have an on-base percentage of .406. Pitching coach Jerry Meyers also noted on Thursday that the teams are similar on paper, but expressed concern about the Rebels being able to steal bases. The Rebels certainly do hold the edge in that respect; they are 30 of 36 in stolen bases on the year, while the Gamecocks are only 12 of 22.

The Rebels are easily the best pitching staff the Gamecocks have faced this season, and if the Gamecocks can't get their bats going, especially with runners in scoring position, it could be a long weekend. While the Rebels have put those pitching stats up against easier competition than the Gamecocks, there's no question that South Carolina's offense will be facing a lot of talent on the mound. The offensive numbers for the Rebels are comparable to those of a couple of other teams that the Gamecocks have faced, most notably Clemson. South Carolina's pitchers did a pretty good job against that Clemson offense, holding them to 11 runs over the course of the weekend.  If the South Carolina pitching staff can maintain the level they've been performing at, then they'll give their offense a good shot at being able to score enough runs to get wins. On Thursday, Coach Holbrook expressed his hope that being at home would be the difference this weekend. Despite facing a tough SEC opponent, a good home atmosphere and a talented, poised team should be enough for the Gamecocks to get the series win this weekend.

Game 1, Friday

Start time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Columbia, S.C. (Carolina Stadium)

Online: Steamed live via ESPN3 and GamecocksOnline.com All-Access

Game 2, Saturday

Start time: 4:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m

Location: Columbia, S.C. (Carolina Stadium)

Online: Steamed live via ESPN3 and GamecocksOnline.com All-Access

UPDATE: Due to Sunday's weather forecast, there will be a doubleheader on Saturday. The first game will be played at 3 p.m. and the second game will begin 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first. The stadium will be cleared between games. Both games will be available on ESPN3, GamecocksOnline.com All-Access and on the radio at 107.5 The Game.

Game 3, Sunday

Start time: 1:30 p.m.

Location: Columbia, S.C. (Carolina Stadium)

Online: Streamed live at GamecocksOnline.com All-Access

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