March 16, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina (11-5) returns to action this weekend with a three-game series at Tennessee (12-2) to begin SEC play.
First pitch on Friday is 7 p.m. with the game available on SEC Network Plus. In addition, Friday's game will be featured as part of the SEC Network's four-hour Bases Loaded special on the opening night of conference play, featuring a live compilation of all seven games featuring the 14 SEC schools.
Game two of the series is Saturday at 2 p.m. on SEC Network Plus with Sunday's series finale at 2 p.m. televised on ESPNU.
A clear bag policy is in effect at Lindsey Nelson Stadium similar to the policy at Founders Park.
PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION
South Carolina is ranked in all six major collegiate rankings. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 7 by Perfect Game, No. 8 by D1Baseball, No. 9 by the NCBWA, No. 10 by Baseball America, No. 12 in the USA Today coaches poll and No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball. Tennessee has been ranked by two agencies, No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 30 by the NCBWA.
South Carolina went 4-0 last week with wins over The Citadel and Winthrop and a pair of victories vs. Michigan State. The Gamecocks are 11-5 on the year after four weeks of action.
The South Carolina pitching staff had another strong week as the group struck out 52 batters in 36.0 innings pitched and combined for a team ERA of 3.50 in last week's four victories.
For the season, the Gamecocks own a team ERA of 3.02 with 176 strikeouts in 146.0 innings. The Gamecocks have allowed 58 runs, 49 earned, on 112 hits with 176 strikeouts to 61 walks. Opponents are hitting .209 against Carolina for the season. The Gamecocks rank fifth in the SEC in opposing batting average, are sixth in strikeouts and ninth in earned run average.
AT THE PLATE AND ON THE FIELD
The Gamecocks are hitting .275 (147-for-535) as a team for the year with a .354 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging mark. The Gamecocks are fielding .977 for the season, fourth-best in the SEC. South Carolina has equaled or out-hit its opponent in 14 of 16 games this year.
South Carolina is 9-2 on the year when scoring first in a game and 9-2 when entering the seventh inning with a lead and 11-1 when entering the ninth inning with the lead. The Gamecocks are 5-1 when scoring six or more runs and 10-3 when allowing five runs or less. South Carolina is 6-4 in games decided by three runs or less.
START WITH CLARKE
Junior right-hander Clarke Schmidt is now 3-0 on the year after earning the win in Friday's 3-2 victory over Michigan State. Schmidt allowed just two runs on eight hits in 7.1 innings of work with no walks and a career-high 12 strikeouts. Schmidt owns a 1.04 ERA for the season having allowed just six runs, three earned, on 19 hits in 26.0 innings with 31 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .198 against him. Schmidt is tied for fifth in both strikeouts and innings pitched and ninth in the SEC in earned run average.
WILLIAMS IS A HIT
Junior first baseman Matt Williams is South Carolina's leading hitter after 16 games with a .413 batting average (19-for-46) with seven runs scored and eight RBI. He owns a .500 on-base percentage and a .522 slugging mark. Williams ranks sixth in the SEC in both hitting and on-base percentage. Williams was 3-for-5 with his first homer of the year and two runs scored in the 5-2 win over Michigan State. He has reached base safely in 14 straight games and is tied for second on the team with four multi-hit games and three multi-RBI games.
Williams tied with Jonah Bride as South Carolina's top hitter last week in four games with a .462 (6-for-13) average in the four victories.
WELCOME BACK WIL
Junior right-hander Wil Crowe is also 3-0 after earning the win in Saturday's 5-2 victory over Michigan State. Crowe limited the Spartans to one run on three hits in 6.2 innings with three walks and tied his season-high with nine strikeouts.
Crowe owns a 2.25 ERA and has allowed just six runs, all earned, on 14 hits in 24.0 innings with seven walks and 31 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .163 against him. Crowe is tied for fifth in the SEC in strikeouts and is 10th in the league in opposing batting average.
TJ LEADS IT OFF
Sophomore outfielder TJ Hopkins is second on the Gamecocks in hitting with a .300 batting average (15-for-50) to go along with a team-high 17 runs scored and a .390 on-base percentage. He is tied for 14th in the SEC in runs scored. Hopkins homered twice, his first multi-homer game of his career, in a 3-for-5 day at the plate with three runs scored and four RBI In the 12-5 win over The Citadel.
Hopkins won the Tom Price Award as MVP for the Gamecocks in the Clemson series. His top game of the series was game three when he went 3-for-5 with his second triple of the season and a pair of runs scored. He also had a key diving catch to record the final out in a 2-0 win at Clemson.
HILL ON THE MOUND
Sophomore right-hander Adam Hill gave the Gamecocks a quality start in Sunday's contest vs. Clemson. Hill allowed just one run, a solo homer, on five hits in 5.1 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Hill owns a 1.56 ERA in three starts having allowed five runs, three earned, on nine hits in 17.1 innings with seven walks and 20 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting a miniscule .153 against him. Hill is eighth in the SEC in opposing batting average.
OLSON PROVIDES A SPARK
Sophomore utility player Jacob Olson tallied the Gamecocks' first multi-homer game of the season in the 8-4 win over Appalachian State. Olson went 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, a RBI and a run scored in the 8-7 loss to Clemson.
Olson is hitting .276 (16-for-58) on the year including three homers, a triple and three doubles to go along with eight RBI and 10 runs scored. He has a .517 slugging percentage. Olson owns a team-high five multi-hit games.
JOHNSON BRINGS THE HEAT
Junior right-hander Tyler Johnson pitched a scoreless inning of relief for his fourth save of the season in Friday's 2-0 win at Clemson. Johnson has four saves in five relief appearances. He has struck out 12 in 6.2 innings of work out of the bullpen. He is tied for the lead in the SEC in saves.
Johnson struck out five of six batters he faced for his third save of the year in the 8-4 win over Appalachian State. He earned two saves the previous week with 1.1 innings of work in the 5-4 win over Charlotte followed by a scoreless ninth inning in which he struck out the side in the 4-3 victory over Wright State on Friday night.
CATCHING UP WITH CULLEN
Sophomore catcher Chris Cullen homered in two straight games with a homer in the 12-5 win vs. The Citadel as well as the 8-6 win over Winthrop.
Cullen is hitting .231 (9-for-39) for the season with three homers and 11 RBI. He owns a .375 on-base percentage as well.
BOWERS BRINGS IT
Senior right-hander Colie Bowers earned his first career save in Friday's 3-2 win over Michigan State with 1.2 scoreless innings of work and a pair of strikeouts.
Bowers is 2-0 with a save in seven relief appearances and owns a 0.00 ERA. He has allowed just one unearned run on four this in 11.0 innings with two walks to 12 strikeouts and opponents hitting .111 against him.
Junior outfielder/designated hitter Alex Destino was 2-for-3 with a key two-run single in Saturday's 5-2 win over Michigan State. He also had a big home run in the eighth inning of South Carolina's rally in the 8-6 win over Winthrop. Destino is hitting .298 (17-for-57) with three homers, three doubles, 10 runs scored and 14 RBI. He is at .379 in on-base percentage and .509 in slugging. Destino has a team-high five multi-RBI games.
REAGAN FROM THE LEFT
Senior left-hander Josh Reagan earned his first save of the year in the 5-2 win over Michigan State. Reagan allowed just one unearned run on two hits in 2.1 innings with no walks and two strikeouts.
Reagan has pitched in a team-high eight appearances, tied for eighth-highest in the SEC. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. Reagan has struck out 16 in 14.0 innings with a .146 opponents batting average.
THERE'S Hunter Taylor
Junior catcher Hunter Taylor went 2-for-3 with a walk in the 5-2 win over Michigan State. Taylor is hitting .400 (6-for-15) in seven games with four starts. Three of his six hits are doubles and he has also scored a pair of runs.
Sophomore infielder LT Tolbert had a key two-run double in the 5-2 win over Michigan State. Tolbert added two hits vs. Winthrop and was 1-for-4 with two runs scored in the 12-5 win over The Citadel. Tolbert is hitting .289 (13-for-45) and is fielding 1.000 on the year.
STOKES IS RISING
Junior infielder Madison Stokes belted a two-run homer in the 3-2 win over Michigan State. Stokes has two homers on the year to go along with a team-high four doubles, five RBI and seven runs scored.
JONAH WITH A JOLT
Junior infielder Jonah Bride hit .462 (6-for-13) in last week's four wins and scored a team-high six runs and had a double and a triple as well. For the season, he is hitting .278 (15-for-54) with six RBI and nine runs scored and a .350 on-base percentage. Bride ranks second in the SEC also with five sacrifice hits. Bride owns the team's longest current hitting streak at four games as well.
Senior right-hander Reed Scott struck out a career-high eight batters in five innings of relief and earned the win in the 8-6 victory over Winthrop. Scott is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in six relief appearances. Opponents are hitting .246 against him. He has 17 strikeouts in 18 innings.
BLAIR ON BASE
Sophomore outfielder Danny Blair leads the Gamecocks with four stolen bases.
Blair had his best series at the plate in a Gamecock uniform in his career as he went 6-for-11 (.545) to lead the Gamecocks at the plate in the UNCG series. Blair also scored a pair of runs, drove in two and stole two bags. He finished with a .545 on-base and slugging percentage as well.
ROW WITH IT
Junior infielder Justin Row went 2-for-4 with his first career triple in Saturday's 8-7 loss to Clemson. Row is hitting .263 (5-for-19) with three RBI and three runs scored.
LAWSON'S FIRST WIN
Sophomore right-hander Graham Lawson earned his first career win in the 12-5 victory over The Citadel. Lawson allowed four runs on four hits in three innings of relief with a walk and three strikeouts. Lawson has struck out seven in in 9.1 innings of work in three games.
PARKE'S FIRST SAVE
Junior left-hander John Parke earned his first career save in the 12-5 win over The Citadel. Parke allowed just one run on three hits in three innings and struck out a career-high five batters.
THE MORRIS CODE
Freshman right-hander Cody Morris made his first career appearance for the Garnet & Black in a start in the 12-5 win over The Citadel. Morris allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings and struck out six with just one walk.
Freshman right-hander Colby Lee also made his first career appearance for the Gamecocks and came up big in relief in the 8-6 win over Winthrop. Lee allowed just one run on three hits in 3.2 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.
Tennessee enters the weekend with a 12-2 overall record.
Senior second baseman Jeff Moberg has been on a tear at the plate with a .475 average (28-for-59) with 19 runs scored, four doubles, a triple, five homers and 14 RBI. He has a .537 on-base percentage and a .831 slugging mark. Moberg leads the SEC in batting average and slugging percentage and is second in on-base percentage. Senior third baseman Jordan Rodgers is right behind him with a .411 average (23-for-56) with three homers and a team-high 15 RBI. The Vols are third in the SEC in hitting with a team average of .326 (163-for-500).
Senior right-hander Hunter Martin leads the Tennessee rotation with a 3-1 record and a 3.68 ERA. He has struck out 29 batters in 22.0 innings pitched. The Vols pitching staff owns a team ERA of 2.86 with 118 strikeouts in 126.0 innings and opponents hitting just .222 against them.
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