COLUMBIA, S.C. -
South Carolina (18-1, 2-1 SEC) returns to SEC action this weekend with a three-game series at Kentucky (15-6, 1-2 SEC). First pitch for the opener on Friday is 6:30 p.m. Game two is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports South. Sunday's series finale is set for 1 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN3. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station 107.5 FM, "The Game," with Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody on the call. Live gametracker stats are also available at GamecocksOnline.
South Carolina is ranked No. 1 by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball as well as No. 2 by Perfect Game and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll.
LIVE COVERAGE Radio: Gamecock IMG Radio Network; Flagship 107.5 FM The Game. Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody call the action.
Television: Saturday only. FOX Sports South - Tom Werme and Larry Conley call the action.
Internet: Sunday's game streamed live on ESPN3. Additional coverage on Twitter @GamecockBasebll and Facebook/Gamecocksonline
PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION
South Carolina - Jordan Montgomery (Jr. LHP) 3-1, 3.14 ERA, 28.2 IP, 11 BB, 30 SO
Kentucky - A.J. Reed (Jr. LHP) 3-1, 1.91 ERA, 33.0 IP, 13 BB, 20 SO
South Carolina - Jack Wynkoop (So. LHP) 4-0, 1.84 ERA, 29.1 IP, 3 BB, 25 SO
Kentucky - Chandler Shepherd (Jr. RHP) 4-0, 2.41 ERA, 33.2 IP, 6 BB, 26 SO
South Carolina - Wil Crowe (Fr. RHP) 4-0, 1.10 ERA, 32.2 IP, 4 BB, 23 SO
Kentucky - Andrew Nelson (Jr. RHP) 1-0, 1.99 ERA, 22.2 IP, 2 BB, 14 SO
A LOOK BACK
South Carolina defeated Furman 5-0 in midweek action and followed that up with a pair of wins in a weekend series vs. 12th ranked Ole Miss to open SEC play. The Gamecocks are 18-1 on the year with a 2-1 record in league action.
South Carolina's pitching staff pitching staff leads the league with a 1.36 ERA. The Gamecocks have 167 strikeouts in 172.0 innings. Opponents are hitting .206 against the Gamecocks. The South Carolina bullpen continues to impress with a scoreless inning streak of 61.1 innings without allowing a run; the last run given up by the pen was Opening Day vs. Bucknell on Feb. 15, 2014.
SEDDON SEALS IT
Leading the way in the bullpen efforts is junior right-hander Joel Seddon. Seddon worked a scoreless inning of relief in the 10th inning of a 5-4 win over Ole Miss in game one of a doubleheader and followed that up with 0.2 scoreless in the nightcap for his sixth save of the season. Seddon is 1-0 on the year with just two hits allowed in 11.1 innings as well as 16 strikeouts to just two walks. He has made 10 relief appearances. His six saves is tied for the highest in the league.
MINCEY WITH AN APPEARANCE
Also with 10 relief appearances is junior right-hander Cody Mincey. Mincey pitched three scoreless innings of relief in the 3-1 win over Ole Miss in the rubber game with just one hit allowed and four strikeouts. Mincey has 22 strikeouts to just four walks in 14.0 innings pitched. He has yielded only five hits on the year.
Kentucky enters 15-6 with a 1-2 record in the SEC. The Wildcats opened SEC play last week winning one of three games at Alabama. Kentucky defeated Western Kentucky on Tuesday 10-3 in non-conference action at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky leads the SEC with a .323 batting average (241-for-746) at the plate as well as 18 homers, a .433 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage. Senior catcher Micheal Thomas is the team's leading hitter at .431 (28-for-65) with three homers and 24 RBI. Junior pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reeds is one of the top power hitters in the country with a .403 average (29-for-72) with nine homers and 31 RBI. Junior center fielder Austin Cousino is also hitting .409 (38-for-93) with 28 runs scored, nine doubles, two triples and a pair of homers.
Reed is the probable starter on the mound on Friday night. He is 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 33.0 innings pitched. Junior right-hander Chandler Shepherd is expected to start on Saturday. He is 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 33.2 innings with 26 strikeouts and six walks.
LAST TIME VS. KENTUCKY
South Carolina swept last year's series vs. the Wildcats. The Gamecocks won a doubleheader 5-2 and 7-6 in 11 innings and completed the sweep with a 3-1 victory in the series finale.
The Gamecocks had a balanced attack on the offensive side in the Kentucky series with seven different Gamecock players driving in at least one run as well as seven different players scoring at least one run. South Carolina hit .318 (35-for-110) for the weekend with a .372 on-base percentage. On the mound, the Gamecocks were solid as well with a 2.17 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched.
Sophomore shortstop Joey Pankake hit .500 (7-for-14) against Kentucky with a homer, a pair of RBI and three runs scored. He went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in the 3-1 win in the series finale. The day before he had three hits in the 7-6 win and opened the series with a homer and two hits in the 5-2 win over the Wildcats.
In the first game of the doubleheader, trailing by two runs, Carolina rallied with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and added an insurance run in the seventh to defeat Kentucky 5-2. After spotting Kentucky a pair of runs in the top of the 6th, South Carolina answered with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. Back-to-back home runs from Joey Pankake and LB Dantzler tied the game. With one out, Pankake drilled a 0-1 pitch from Reed over the wall in left field for his eighth home run of the season. Dantzler followed with his 11th homer of the year as he launched the first pitch he saw from Reed over the right field wall. The hit parade continued with Max Schrock, who knocked a double off the wall in right field. He would score on Brison Celek's RBI single to left-center. The Gamecocks took advantage of a UK miscue to score the fourth run of the inning. Connor Bright knocked a two-out double to left field. On the relay into the infield, UK shortstop Matt Reida threw past second baseman J.T. Riddle, allowing Celek to score from third to home. The Gamecocks added a run in the seventh.
In game two of the doubleheader, Brison Celek's RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning lifted South Carolina to a 7-6 win.
Trailing 6-5 entering the bottom of the eighth, Grayson Greiner reached base on a fielding error by the Kentucky third baseman Max Kuhn to start the inning. After Connor Bright sacrificed him into scoring position, Greiner advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Graham Saiko's two-out RBI single to right field.
In the bottom of the 11th the Gamecocks rallied and secured the victory in walk-off fashion. Pankake and Kyle Martin opened the inning with consecutive singles and set the stage for Celek who knocked a 3-1 pitch to left field and drove in Pankake for the winning run.
Jack Wynkoop earned SEC Freshman of the Week as well. Wynkoop hurled a career-high eight innings to pick up his fifth win of the season in the 3-1 win over Kentucky to sweep the series. In only his third start vs. a SEC team, Wynkoop scattered nine hits and allowed just one run, unearned, while not walking a batter and striking out three.
MAX IT OUT
Sophomore infielder Max Schrock had a flair for the dramatic last weekend. Despite a sprained ankle, Schrock came on in a pinch-hit role and without taking batting practice before the game, launched a two-out two-run homer to right field in the bottom of the 9th to help the Gamecocks rally to a 5-4 10-inning win over the Rebels. The previous day, Schrock tied a career-high with four hits including a homer as well as two RBI and two runs scored in the 6-4 loss. Schrock is hitting .354 (17-for-48) on the year with a team-high four homers and 10 RBI. He has a .467 on-base percentage and a .625 slugging mark. His four homers is tied for third-highest in the SEC.
South Carolina's 16-game winning streak to open the year was the best start for South Carolina since the 2004 season when the Gamecocks opened with an 18-0 record.
CROWE MAKES AN IMPACT
Freshman right-hander Wil Crowe improved to 4-0 on the year with a win in the 3-1 rubber game victory over Ole Miss. Crowe limited the Rebels to just one run on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Crowe owns a 1.10 ERA in 32.2 innings with 23 strikeouts to four walks. Opponents are hitting .196 against him.
Crowe was honored twice by the Southeastern Conference in the first two weeks of the regular season. On February 24, he earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after working 6.1 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over Eastern Kentucky with just four hits allowed and one walk to pick up his second win of the season.
The first week, Crowe was SEC Pitcher of the Week. He had an impressive debut as he hurled 6.1 hitless innings in his first career start. Crowe walked just one and hit one batter while finishing with five strikeouts to earn his first career win in a Gamecock uniform. Bucknell had just one runner reach second base and none reach third base while Crowe was on the mound. Crowe retired 13 consecutive batters in a row before coming out of the game as he reached his pitch count total.
A BRIGHT SPOT
Junior outfielder Connor Bright leads the Gamecocks and is tied for the SEC lead in hitting with a .417 average (30-for-72). He has 17 runs scored and 18 RBI and leads the team with 10 doubles. Bright also has a .458 on-base percentage. He was 2-for-4 with a run scored in the 3-1 win over Ole Miss as well as 2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored in the 5-4 win.
Freshman right-hander Reed Scott was key in the 5-4 win over Ole Miss. With the Gamecocks trailing 4-0 entering the top of the fourth, Scott kept the Rebels at bay as he pitched a career-high six scoreless innings of relief with just three hits allowed and no walks while striking out a career-high six batters to help Carolina to the 5-4 rally. Scott also had a scoreless inning of relief with a strikeout in the 5-0 win over Furman last Tuesday.
Junior catcher Grayson Greiner was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List for the top catcher in college baseball.
Greiner is hitting .354 (23-for-65) with a team-high 20 runs scored and a team-high 20 RBI as well as three homers and four doubles. He ranks fourth in the SEC in runs and fifth in RBI. Greiner also had a team-high 11 walks. Greiner scored the game-winning run in the 5-4 win over Ole Miss and followed that up with a RBI in the 3-1 win.
Greiner hit .455 (5-for-11) in the Brown series with six runs scored and a RBI. With five hits and a walk, Greiner scored all six times he reached base in the Brown series.
Greiner won the Tom Price award as the MVP for South Carolina in the weekend series vs. Clemson. Greiner hit .400 (4-for-10) for the weekend with four runs scored. His grand slam homer helped lift South Carolina to a 9-6 win. He had a team-high four walks on the weekend as well.
WIDENER PICKS UP FIRST CAREER WIN
Freshman right-hander Taylor Widener won his first collegiate start in a predetermined split as he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in the 5-0 win over Furman. Widener had allowed just five hits and two walks in 7.2 innings with six strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .179 against him.
CALDWELL WITH THE ASSIST
Junior outfielder Elliott Caldwell came up big in left field in both games of the doubleheader vs. Ole Miss. Caldwell threw out two runners at home plate in the 5-4 win and followed that up with another outfield assist in the nightcap. Caldwell had two hits in the 5-4 win and had three hits in the 5-0 win over Furman. Caldwell is hitting .288 (15-for-52) on the year. His two assists in the 5-4 win tied a USC single-game record.
Sophomore left-hander Vince Fiori was stellar in relief in Friday's loss. Fiori pitched 2.2 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed and one walk while striking out two batters. Fiori has pitched 8.1 scoreless innings of relief with nine strikeouts in six relief appearances.
IN A PINCH WITH BRISON
Senior Brison Celek is 3-for-3 (1.000) in a pinch-hit role this year. Celek tallied another big pinch-hit last week as his game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted South Carolina to a 5-4 win over Ole Miss. Celek had a big pinch-hit single in a 5-3 win at Clemson with two outs in the ninth inning that kept the inning and game alive as well.
REAGAN SUPPLIES RELIEF
Freshman left-hander Josh Reagan was effective in relief of Taylor Widener vs. Furman. Reagan pitched 2.2 scoreless with a pair of strikeouts in the 5-0 win. He is 2-0 on the year with a 0.00 ERA in five appearances. Reagan has 11 strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched.
A LITTLE BIT OF ENGLISH
Junior outfielder Tanner English's numbers continue to rise with a .339 batting average (21-for-62) and a .431 on-base percentage. He was 1-for-2 with a RBI and a run scored in the 5-0 win over Furman, 2-for-4 with a run scored in the 5-4 win over Ole Miss and a perfect RBI bunt with two outs to score the go-ahead run in the 3-1 win over Ole Miss.
PANKAKE ON THE RISE
Junior infielder Joey Pankake owns a seven-game hitting streak. Pankake is up to a .286 (18-for-63) batting average. He went 2-for-4 with a RBI in the 3-1 win over Ole Miss and was 2-for-5 with a run scored in the 5-4 victory over the Rebels. Pankake has a .403 on-base percentage with nine walks and four hit by pitches to just six strikeouts. He has scored 19 runs this year.
Junior first baseman Kyle Martin continues to be among the team's leaders in hitting with a .343 average (24-for-70). Sophomore infielder Marcus Mooney is also doing well at the plate with a .304 average (21-for-69) and a .400 on-base percentage.
The Gamecocks are 17-0 on the year when allowing five runs or less in a game. Additionally, South Carolina is 9-0 when scoring six or more runs. South Carolina is 7-1 in games decided by three runs or less.
AT THE PLATE & IN THE FIELD
South Carolina is hitting .315 (203-for-645) as a team with a .396 on-base percentage and a .442 slugging percentage. All three of those marks are second highest in the SEC. South Carolina has fielded .980 as a team with only 14 errors.
South Carolina's 13-0 victory over Brown featured a team-high 18 hits. The 18-hit total is third highest by the Gamecocks in a game in the Chad Holbrook era. South Carolina has reached double-digit hit totals in 10 of 16 games this year.
MONTGOMERY GETS IT STARTED
Junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery is 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 28.2 innings with a team-high 30 strikeouts to 11 walks.
MOONEY LEADS IT OFF
Sophomore infielder Marcus Mooney is hitting .304 (21-for-69) with nine runs scored and 10 RBI. Nine of his 10 RBI this year have come with two outs.
Mooney was Carolina's top hitter two weeks ago. Mooney hit .474 (9-for-19) vs. Stetson and Brown with a run scored and four RBI.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Sophomore left-hander Jack Wynkoop is 4-0 on the year after earning a win vs. Brown. Wynkoop pitched eight scoreless innings allowing just four hits and no walks with five strikeouts. His eight innings pitched tied a career-high he set as a freshman vs. Kentucky.
Wynkoop has a 1.84 ERA in 29.1 innings with 25 strikeouts to three walks.
Wynkoop pitched 7.1 scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 10 batters in a 2-0 win over Eastern Kentucky on February 22. He allowed just three hits and one walk.
HOME SWEET HOME
South Carolina has two sellouts this year and 32 in school history at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina has totaled 125,610 in attendance in the first 17 home games for an average of 7,388 per contest.
South Carolina is 171-33 in all-time games at Carolina Stadium, a winning percentage of .838. That is the best winning percentage of all 14 SEC schools since opening the facility.