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South Carolina vs. No. 1 LSU: Series Preview, Game Times, How to Watch and more

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The #1 team is coming to Carolina Stadium and the Gamecocks need a series victory

TheBigSpur

The Gamecocks kept the offense rolling with a 17-0 whipping of USC Upstate on Tuesday night. This is the first time in over two months that the Gamecocks have followed up a weekend series victory with a midweek win and it was a nice change of pace. South Carolina is 31-22 (12-15) and has now won 4 of their last 5 games.

LSU is one of the only teams that South Carolina plays on a regular basis that has the advantage in the overall series. The Gamecocks are 24-32-1 against the Tigers. South Carolina won their last series with LSU, which was in Baton Rouge in 2013, but they haven't won a home series against the Tigers since 2007.

SEC East SEC West
Vanderbilt (18-9, .667) LSU (19-7, .731)
Florida (17-10, .630) Texas A&M (17-9, .654)
Missouri (14-13, .519) Arkansas (15-11, .577)
Kentucky (12-14, .480) Ole Miss (14-13, . 519)
South Carolina (12-15, .444) Auburn (12-15, .444)
Georgia (9-17, .346) Alabama (11-16, .407)
Tennessee (8-18, .308) Mississippi State (8-19, .296)

The Gamecocks are still in 10th place in the overall SEC standings and have now guaranteed themselves a spot in the SEC Tournament. They've also put themselves back into the conversation about making the NCAA Tournament. In D1Baseball's projections this week the Gamecocks were one of the first five teams out of the field and it seems to be a general consensus that winning the LSU series would likely give the Gamecocks a good enough resume to get in. Holbrook said in his press conference on Wednesday that this weekend feels a little like a postseason series, and given the must-win nature of this series that's an understandable feeling. Win and the Gamecocks get a chance at a meaningful postseason, lose and they go to Hoover wondering if it's possible to win enough games there to get in.*

*Spoiler Alert: The answer to "can the Gamecocks play well enough in Hoover to get into the NCAA tournament if they lose to LSU this weekend?" is almost definitely no.

Of course, it's easy to say that the Gamecocks still have a legitimate shot at the postseason and quite another to say that they're likely to get the wins they need this weekend. This last week has been a great one for the team, probably one of the best weeks of the season considering the weekend competition, but this team has fooled us before. They followed up a 10-game winning streak with four consecutive series losses and they followed up their last victory against a top ten team with series losses to two of the worst teams in the SEC. If the team has figured things out for real this time then it's unspeakably frustrating that it took so long. Just a couple more conference wins earlier in the season would probably have prevented the situation that the Gamecocks are currently in. But needing a series win over the top team in the country is where the Gamecocks find themselves so they'll just have to play good baseball and hope that they can do enough to make the Tigers stumble and drop the series this weekend.

LSU is 44-8 (19-7) and has looked like an elite team this season. Their only non-conference loss was a slip-up against Nicholls in the first week of the season. LSU's only series loss of the season was at home to Kentucky, with both losses coming in extra innings. The Tigers enter this series coming off of a sweep of Missouri and a Tuesday night victory over New Orleans.

South Carolina LSU
Batting Average .262 .319
On-Base % .356 .385
Slugging % .381 .467
ERA 4.00 2.84
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 2.24 2.43
Fielding % .972 .977

LSU is second in the league in batting average (.311), ERA (3.40) and fielding (.982) in SEC play. In contrast, the Gamecocks conference-only statistics have them at 11th in batting (.254), last in ERA (5.45) and 11th in fielding (.970). South Carolina was able to beat A&M last week because they were dramatically better in two of those categories than their conference average, hitting .350 and avoiding errors completely.

The Gamecocks have scored 48 runs in their last 4 games and a huge factor in that offensive success has been production from the bottom of the lineup. Most notably, Marcus Mooney stepped up in a big way and earned himself SEC Player of the Week honors. Freshman Clark Scolamiero has also hit very well over the past few games. Solid at-bats from throughout the lineup makes a world of difference for the Gamecocks, who will need to continue hitting well to keep up with an LSU team that has a great offense. The Tigers can start an entire lineup hitting over .275 and are aggressive on the base paths. LSU has successfully stolen 101 bases in 129 attempts (78%) while the Gamecocks have stolen 63 in 77 attempts (82%).

Schrock's status for the series is questionable. Holbrook is hopeful that Schrock will play, but he was very sore on Wednesday and they won't know until this afternoon if he'll be in the lineup.

Jack Wynkoop will get the start on Thursday night. The junior lefty has a 2.83 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 13 walks this season. Though he gave up one of his highest run totals of the season in last weekend's slugfest against the Aggies, he did enough to keep the Gamecocks in it and ultimately earn the win. Wynkoop also had another long outing, making this the fourth week in a row that he's pitched at least 8 innings. His ability to last for so many innings is huge for a Gamecock team that is short on reliable pitching options. In that vein, the starters for Friday and Saturday are, as usual, TBA. South Carolina will continue to use their pitchers whenever they need them and start the best remaining available option in each game.

LSU will send sophomore lefty Jared Poche' to the mound for Thursday night's game. He has an ERA of 2.87 with 50 strikeouts and 19 walks. Austin Bain will start for the Tigers on Friday night. The freshman RHP has a 2.98 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 17 walks. Another freshman righty, Alex Lange, will start on Saturday as well. His ERA is 2.13 and he has 82 strikeouts and 32 walks this season.

Game 1, Thursday

Start Time: 7 pm

How to Watch: SEC Network

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game and Gamecock Radio Network affiliates

Game 2, Friday

Start Time: 8 pm

How to Watch: ESPNU

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game and Gamecock Radio Network affiliates

Game 3, Saturday

Start Time: 8 pm

How to Watch: SEC Network

How to Listen: 107.5 The Game and Gamecock Radio Network affiliates