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#2 South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky Wildcats: Preview and How to Watch

The Gamecocks look to stay atop the SEC as they play in Kentucky this weekend

TheBigSpur

The Gamecocks beat USC Upstate on Wednesday night to improve to 35-9 (15-5 SEC). South Carolina remains 3rd in the NCAA RPI as the team travels to Cliff Hagan Stadium in Kentucky to face the Wildcats for their final SEC East matchup of the season.

Even after facing the #1 team in the country last weekend the Gamecocks remain at the top of the SEC standings. Carolina entered the series against Florida with a one game lead in the standings and the rainout of the rubber game allowed them to maintain that position. The Gamecocks have their work cut out for them over the last few weeks of the season as they close out SEC play with two road series and a home series against a top-five Texas A&M team.

SEC East SEC West
South Carolina (15-5, .750) Texas A&M (14-7, .667)
Florida (14-6, .700) Mississippi State (12-9, .571)
Vanderbilt (13-8, .619) Ole Miss (12-9, .571)
Kentucky (11-10, .524) LSU (11-10, .524)
Georgia (7-14, .333) Alabama (10-11, .476)
Missouri (7-14, .333) Arkansas (7-14, .333)
Tennessee (6-15, .286) Auburn (7-14, .333)

The Gamecocks lead the all-time series with the Wildcats 48-34. In last year's meeting between the teams South Carolina opened SEC play by sweeping Kentucky. The Gamecocks have a 15-22 record at Kentucky and two series wins in their last six trips to Lexington, with the most recent of those victories coming in 2009.

The Wildcats are 27-18 (11-10 SEC) and are 51 in the NCAA RPI. Kentucky was ranked for most of the season, but recently slipped out of the top 25 as they've lost their last three weekend series. The Wildcats opened their season with a loss to Wofford, but they bounced back before SEC play and did well against their early conference opponents. Kentucky earned series wins over Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama through the first four weekends of conference play. Things have fallen off for the Wildcats since then though, as they have lost at Vanderbilt, against Arkansas, and at Auburn. The Wildcats enter this weekend's series coming off of a Wednesday loss to EKU.

South Carolina Kentucky
Batting Average .293 .276
On-Base % .383 .357
Slugging % .412 .417
ERA 3.11 3.90
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 2.91 2.27
Fielding % .980 .970

Kentucky doesn't have a particularly intimidating offense overall, but the Wildcats do have several dangerous hitters. Evan White has one of the best batting averages in the SEC at .358 and JaVon Shelby, despite a .233 average, is tied for the SEC lead in home runs with 10. Gunnar McNeill is also an important part of the Wildcat offense as he leads the team in RBI with 35 and has 5 homers to go along with his .278 average. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, the best hitter in the series wears garnet and black. Gene Cone is hitting .379/.480/.550, has extended his hitting streak to 30 games, and continues to be effective for the Gamecocks with a great approach at the plate. He and the rest of the Carolina offense should be able to get to the UK pitching staff this weekend, even on the road in a place that has given the Gamecocks trouble in recent years.

On Friday sophomore RHP Clarke Schmidt, who leads the SEC in strikeouts with 91, will take the mound for the Gamecocks. He has a 1.99 ERA and has walked 14 batters this season. Braden Webb will start on Saturday after a performance last weekend that earned him SEC Freshman of the Week honors for the third time this season. The freshman right-hander has a 3.05 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 36 walks. Sunday's starter for Carolina will be another freshman RHP, Adam Hill. His ERA is 2.57 and he has 58 strikeouts and 17 walks this season.

The Wildcats have a much older starting rotation than the Gamecocks, and it begins with junior RHP Zack Brown on Friday night. Brown has a 5.45 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 25 walks on the year. The Saturday starter for Kentucky will be Dustin Beggs. The senior right-hander has a 2.79 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 13 walks. Kyle Cody, another senior RHP will take the mound for the series finale on Sunday. Cody's ERA is 4.06 and he has 55 strikeouts and 25 walks.


Game 1, Friday

When: 6:30 p.m.

How to Watch: SEC Network +

How to Listen: 107. 5 The Game


Game 2, Saturday

When: 6:30 p.m.

How to Watch: SEC Network +

How to Listen: 107. 5 The Game


Game 3, Sunday

When: 3 p.m.

How to Watch: ESPNU

How to Listen: 107. 5 The Game