No. 2 South Carolina vs. No. 20 Tennessee: Series preview, game times, radio, online streaming info and more

USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks will look to regain a winning SEC record against divisional rival Tennessee

South Carolina enters the third weekend of SEC play on a 3-game winning streak after taking the final game in Kentucky and beating two midweek opponents. The Gamecocks are ranked in the top 5 of every major poll, while Tennessee is ranked from 20th (Perfect Game) to 23rd (NCBWA).  The Gamecocks are 51-34 all-time against Tennessee. The Gamecocks are 13-2 against the Volunteers in the last five seasons, and they swept Tennessee in Knoxville last year.

Heading into the weekend, five of the seven teams in the SEC East are knotted up in first place in the division with 3-3 conference records. Only Georgia (1-4) and Missouri (1-5) are on the outside looking in. This weekend will at least somewhat clear things up, as Kentucky and Vanderbilt face each other in addition to South Carolina and Tennessee. Florida will be fighting to stay atop the East as well, and they'll have their work cut out for them as they host LSU.  With the exception of a couple of outliers on the bottom end of the spectrum, most of the SEC has looked strong and fairly evenly-matched. Coach Holbrook cited the fact that many of the conference's teams are pretty evenly-matched as one reason it may be hard to rattle off a long string of conference wins to dig out of a hole if the Gamecocks allow themselves to fall too far below .500 in conference play.

Tennessee was one of the biggest surprises of the early season, both in the SEC and nationally. Now 19-4, the Volunteers began the season with twelve straight wins before finally dropping a game to Arizona State. The Vols went on to win that series and have a couple of other very nice wins, including a sweep of a good UNLV team.  In the SEC the Volunteers lost one game in their opening conference series against Missouri and lost two of three to Auburn last weekend for their first series loss of the season.

Junior left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery will remain the Friday night starter for the Gamecocks as they face the Volunteers. Montgomery has had rough games against ranked opponents this year, with a particularly bad game against Kentucky last week in which he only lasted 2 innings and gave up 9 runs (7 earned). His ERA this season is now 4.99. Despite these issues, Holbrook stated in his Thursday press conference that "Jordan is our guy if we want to be the team that we hope to be." He said that Montgomery looked like he was back to himself in his bullpen this week and went on to add that "Jordan has had a lot of success here...he deserves a couple of bad outings before we just yank him out of there."

Starting opposite Montgomery on Friday night will be Tennessee's Nick Williams. The senior right-handed pitcher has an ERA of 1.88 with 25 strikeouts and 8 walks this season. On Saturday sophomore left-hander Jack Wynkoop will take the mound for the Gamecocks. Wynkoop has an ERA of 1.98 and a team-leading 34 strikeouts.  Tennessee's Saturday starter will be freshman right-hander Hunter Martin, who has a nice ERA of 0.98, though he has only had 18.1 innings of work this season. Freshman right-hander Wil Crowe will start for the Gamecocks on Sunday. He has a 1.63 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 6 walks. Holbrook was very complimentary of his freshman starter on Thursday, stating that Crowe has a lot of responsibility as a freshman weekend pitcher in a league like that SEC and that Crowe has held his own and been consistent. Sunday's Volunteer starter will be Andrew Lee, a sophomore right-handed pitcher with a 3.94 ERA.

Second baseman Max Schrock is continuing to recover from his ankle injury. Holbrook said that Max is a lot better, and will be in the lineup somewhere on Friday night. Schrock has been back at second base only once since his injury and has made most of his impact in SEC play at the plate. Grayson Greiner is still fighting through a painful injury that Holbrook calls "catcher's thumb." Holbrook said that he thinks Greiner will play on Friday, but he's not sure how effective Greiner will be. Greiner will have to wear a special guard on his thumb to hit, so he likely won't be at his best at the plate. However, Holbrook said that as good as Grayson is at the plate, his real value is behind it. The Gamecocks will feel better about their chances against a Tennessee team that steals a lot of bases with Greiner at catcher.

Tennessee's penchant for stealing bases is one of the biggest offensive differences between the teams, at least on paper.  Tennessee has successfully stolen a base in 49 of their 62 attempts, which means that they have nearly twice as many steals as South Carolina has even attempted; the Gamecocks are 15 of 25 in stolen bases this season.  The Volunteers are hitting .295 with an on-base percentage of .386 and a slugging percentage of .403. The numbers for the Gamecocks are similar: they're hitting .301 with an on-base percentage of .379 and a slugging percentage of .424.  The Volunteers have been a little better defensively with a fielding percentage of .983 compared to .978 for the Gamecocks.

Tennessee's pitching has been good this season, they have an ERA of 2.67 and opponents are hitting .221 against them. Despite the end of the bullpen's scoreless innings streak and a couple of pitchers allowing their first earned runs of the season last week, South Carolina's pitching continues to be strong. The team ERA is 1.80 and teams are hitting .203 against the Gamecocks. Coach Holbrook described the pitching as the backbone of this Gamecock team, but said that he emphasized to the players this week that the offense has got to do their part and score runs to beat a Tennessee team that is "an NCAA tournament team."

Game 1, Friday

Start time: 7:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 8:00 p.m.  (We do not have baseball weather in Columbia right now)

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

Game 2, Saturday

Start time: 4:00 p.m.

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

Game 3, Sunday

Start time: 1:30 p.m.

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

All three games can be streamed online at GamecocksOnline.com All-Access and are also available on the radio at 107.5 The Game

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