No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Florida: Series preview, game times, radio and more

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks will look to stay atop the SEC East as they host the Florida Gators this weekend

South Carolina bounced back from a tough weekend in Arkansas with a 9-2 win over Furman on Tuesday. The Gamecocks are 27-5 heading into this weekend's series and are ranked 4th or 5th in every major poll and 1st in the RPI. Florida's rank ranges from 13th (Collegiate Baseball) to 25th (ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll) and they are 8th in the RPI.

South Carolina leads the overall series against Florida 42-35. Florida holds a 9-7 edge in the series in the last four seasons, but the Gamecocks hold a 3-1 advantage in postseason meetings during that time. South Carolina was swept in Gainesville in last year's series and 2011 is the only time in the last four seasons that the Gamecocks won the regular season series.  That, of course, was also the year that the Gamecocks and the Gators met in the championship series in the CWS in Omaha. South Carolina won a wonderfully insane game to begin the series and then cruised to a second consecutive national title the next night in the second game.

The SEC continues to be ridiculous, both in terms of talent and parity across the league. There are five SEC teams that are top 10 in the RPI and nine in the top 50. Entering this weekend, only three games separate first from last place in each division. In the East, the Gamecocks and the Gators remain tied for the lead (as they have been after every single weekend of SEC play so far) with a 7-5 conference record.  Vandy and Kentucky (6-6) are next in the East, followed by Georgia (5-6), Tennessee (5-7) and Missouri (4-8). Alabama (8-4) leads the West, followed by Ole Miss (7-5) and LSU (6-5). Mississippi State and Arkansas are tied with 6-6 records and Auburn and Texas A&M are tied for last with 5-7 records.

The Gators are 21-12 on the year with a several impressive wins. Most notably, they swept the regular season series against the highly-ranked FSU Seminoles, including shutting out the Noles for the first time in two decades on Tuesday. The Gators opened SEC play with a series win against Arkansas, then dropped a road series to Texas A&M. They followed that up with a home sweep of LSU and lost two of three in a high-scoring series at Kentucky last weekend.

Coach Holbrook said that this weekend's series is "evenly matched for the most part" and that the Gamecocks will "have [their] hands full with Florida." He emphasized the need to keep the offensive momentum from Tuesday going and said that if the Gamecocks play offensively the way they did against Arkansas they'll "lose this series too." The offensive numbers for the Gamecocks have continued to dip as they've gotten further into SEC play. The overall batting average is .292, but the Gamecocks are only hitting .258 in conference play and the team has a .308 on-base percentage in conference.  Joey Pankake has easily been the best Gamecock in the plate during conference play, with a .362 batting average a .418 on-base percentage. Tanner English is the only other player hitting above .300 in SEC play.  On the other hand, the Gators are hitting .268 overall, but .291 in conference play. Florida's conference on-base percentage is .352.

South Carolina's pitching continues to be fantastic. The Gamecocks now have the second-best ERA in the nation at 1.80, behind only Houston (1.76). The team's ERA in SEC play is 2.95 and conference opponents are hitting .241 against them. Relievers Cody Mincey and Joel Seddon have been incredible all year, but especially in conference play, where they have pitched a combined 16.1 scoreless innings while only allowing 8 hits. Florida has an overall ERA of 3.59 and an ERA in the SEC of 4.89. Conference opponents are hitting .291 against them.

On Friday night junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery will take the mound for the Gamecocks. He has an ERA of 3.83 with 47 strikeouts and 17 walks this season. After a rough start to SEC play, Montgomery has only allowed one earned run in each of his last two appearances. Florida's Friday night starter will be freshman right-hander Logan Shore. His ERA is 1.15 with 31 strikeouts and 10 walks. Holbrook mentioned in his press conference Thursday that the Gamecocks will have their hands full with Shore, who has been very tough to score on.  On Saturday Jack Wynkoop will take the mound for the Gamecocks. The sophomore left-hander has an ERA of 2.49 with 41 strikeouts and 7 walks. Starting opposite Wynkoop will be sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes. Rhodes has an ERA of 2.48 with 35 strikeouts and 10 walks. Freshman right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe will start for the Gamecocks on Sunday.  Despite a bad outing against Arkansas, Crowe has had a great season and still has the best ERA among the Gamecock weekend starters at 2.08.  Florida's Sunday starter has not been announced.

Max Schrock is the only Gamecock whose status for the weekend is unclear. He has been sick this week and didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. Holbrook said Schrock is "still banged up a little bit" and that whether or not he will play will likely be a game-time decision.

Game 1, Friday

Start time: 7 p.m.

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

Game 2, Saturday

Start time: 4 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 will be available on the radio at 107.5 The Game and via live video streaming on GamecocksOnline.com All-Access

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