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Kentucky vs No. 1 South Carolina: Series preview, game times, TV and online streaming info and more

The top-ranked Gamecocks take on Kentucky in their first SEC road series of the season

After beginning SEC play by taking 2 of 3 from the Rebels in Columbia, the Gamecocks will face the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington this weekend. The last three series between the teams have all been sweeps by the home team, and the last time the Gamecocks won a series in Lexington was in 2009. The Gamecocks are 44-32 all-time against Kentucky.

There are no new injuries on the team heading into the weekend, and the players that were previously injured all seem to be steadily improving. Holbrook said on Thursday that Max Schrock's ankle injury is "better but he's not there yet." Schrock can probably play in some capacity this weekend; whether he can play second base is questionable, but Holbrook said that he feels good about having Schrock in the lineup as designated hitter. Evan Beal has returned from a back injury and is doing better. However, Holbrook said that Beal would have to go into a game in the right situation and that he's got a ways to go before he's put in an SEC game with the game on the line.

Kentucky is 15-6 overall and 1-2 in conference. The Wildcats opened the season with a win over a highly-ranked Virginia team, but have lost a couple of games to unimpressive teams too. Kentucky dropped out of every poll except Perfect Game (where they fell from 18th to 23rd) after a series loss to Alabama last weekend.

Despite being on the edge of the top 25, the Wildcats are one of the best offensive teams in the country. Per official NCAA stats, which are current through last Sunday's games, Kentucky leads the nation in scoring with an average of 9.7 runs per game. The Wildcats are hitting .323 and have an excellent on-base percentage of .433. That .323 batting average is nearly identical to what both Ole Miss and Clemson had coming into their games against South Carolina. Both of those teams ended up with similar numbers against South Carolina. Clemson had 28 hits, scored 11 runs (10 earned), walked 9 times, and struck out 20 times. Ole Miss had 27 hits, 11 runs (8 earned), walked 7 times, and struck out 23 times. Kentucky is better at getting on base than either of those teams though and has several individual batters that will test the South Carolina pitching staff.

South Carolina is now 18-1 overall and 2-1 in conference, putting the Gamecocks in a tie atop the SEC East standings with Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. The South Carolina pitching staff continues to be one of the best in the nation. The Gamecocks' ERA of 1.36 is the best in the nation, and they are among six SEC teams in the top ten in the nation in ERA. The bullpen owns a current streak of 61.1 consecutive innings without allowing a run. There are still nine Gamecock pitchers, six of them with over seven innings of work, that have not allowed an earned run this year.

Despite a sometimes frustrating offensive performance against Ole Miss last weekend, South Carolina's offensive numbers have held pretty steady. The Gamecocks are hitting .315 with an on-base percentage of .396. The Wildcats have a team ERA of 2.70 with opponents hitting .225 against them. Kentucky is certainly not bad on the mound, but the Gamecocks are good enough at the plate that they should be able to score some runs on a Wildcat pitching staff that has not been elite.

Friday night's pitching matchup will feature two junior left-handed pitchers. Jordan Montgomery, who has an ERA of 3.14 and a team-leading 30 strikeouts, will start for the Gamecocks. Kentucky's starter will be A. J. Reed, who has an ERA of 1.91. Saturday the Gamecocks will start sophomore left-handed pitcher Jack Wynkoop, who has an ERA of 1.84 and owns the best strikeout-to-walk ratio on the team (8.33). The Wildcats will start junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd, who has an ERA of 2.41. On Sunday South Carolina freshman right-hander Wil Crowe will start. Crowe has an ERA of 1.10 and has allowed the fewest hits (22) and the fewest runs (4) of any of the Gamecock weekend starters despite getting several more innings of work than either Montgomery or Wynkoop. Andrew Nelson, a junior right-hander, will pitch for the Wildcats on Sunday. He has an ERA of 1.99.

Game 1, Friday

Start time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Lexington, Kentucky (Cliff Hagan Stadium)

TV/Online: None

Game 2, Saturday

Start time: 2 p.m.

Location: Lexington, Kentucky (Cliff Hagan Stadium)

TV: Fox Sports South

Game 3, Sunday

Start time: 1 p.m.

Location: Lexington, Kentucky (Cliff Hagan Stadium)

Online: ESPN3

All three games can be heard on the radio at 107.5 The Game