Well, Gamecock fans, after two weekends of SEC play South Carolina is sitting pretty with a 5-1 conference record. Last week we all held our breath when it looked as if USC might sweep its second consecutive opponent to start SEC play. Alas, it was not to be. USC dropped the Sunday match behind a less-than-stellar performance from freshman pitcher Tyler Webb. The loss snapped Carolina's 13 game winning streak. Carolina fans can't be too upset, though, given that they took 2 of 3 from Auburn on the road while holding the WarPlainsTigers to just 15 runs over the weekend. Considering Aurburn might turn out to be the best hitting team in the SEC this year, that's no small feat. USC improves to 34-18 all time against Auburn.
Carolina then took on The Citadel in the mid-week game. Avid baseball fans might remember that The Citadel managed to sweep the two game series with USC last year - taking a game each in Columbia and Charleston. The Gamecocks had no problem shaking the Sunday blues, though, and put together an excellent effort to give Ray Tanner his 600th win in garnet and black. The Gamecocks rode the strong arm of freshman pitcher Colby Holmes to a 10-1 victory. Holmes earned his first win as a Gamecock on the night. South Carolina now owns a 118-46-1 all-time record against the Citadel. Gamecocksonline has the full story here.
Weekend preview after the jump.
Mississippi State (14-11, 2-4 SEC) comes to town Friday for a three game series. The much-maligned Bulldogs managed to take two games from the Eastern division Bulldawgs last weekend after being swept by Florida to open SEC play. MSU was also swept by Southeastern Louisiana earlier in the season. That may not sound as bad once you consider that Southeastern Louisiana is nationally ranked within their division, but one should also consider that the Lions have just a 7-3 conference record.
The Bulldogs bring to town a team .280 AVG, 25 HR, and an 6.78 ERA. Senior RHP, Greg Houston (3-0) leads the team in ERA at 1.53 - an near insanely low stat for college ball. The Bulldog's offense is led by senior infielder Connor Powers (.398 AVG, 9HR, .763 SLG%, .509 OB%).
The Gamecocks, meanwhile, are clicking on all cylinders right now, Sunday starters aside. Mississippi State may not have very deep pitching, but their starters are more than capable of keeping them within striking distance all weekend long. I think if we can get to their starters earlier in the Friday and Saturday games (say, before the 6th inning) we'll have a good chance to sweep this weekend. Regardless, we need to take two of three in convincing fashion to stay abreast of the rest of the SEC. USC has gotten somewhat lucky in the beginning of SEC play, as we've gotten three of the weaker teams in the conference to start SEC play. The schedule will get considerably harder as the year wears on with weekend series versus Kentucky, Arkansas, and Florida to close out the season. A sweep this weekend could really put us in a good position heading into the meat of our schedule. South Carolina leads the all-time series by the narrow margin of 28-24.
The Slate (MSU vs USC):
7:00 pm, Friday: Fr. Kendal Groveman (1-1, 6.2 ERA) vs. Sr. Blake Cooper (4-0, 3.32 ERA)
4:00 pm, Saturday: Fr. Chris Stratton (2-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. Jr. Sam Dyson (2-0, 4.15 ERA)
2:00 pm, Sunday: TBA vs. Sr. Jay Brown (1-0, 3.38 ERA)