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April 8, 2014

Baseball Preview: Furman

NO. 5 SOUTH CAROLINA (26-5) at FURMAN (11-21)

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Fluor Field
Tickets: Available at the box office
TV: None
Last meeting: USC won 5-0 in Columbia on March 11, 2014.
Probable starting pitchers
South Carolina Jr. RHP Evan Beal (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 9.1 IP, 1 BB, 6 K).
Furman TBA
Notes: The Gamecocks are 24-2 on the year when allowing five runs or less in a game. In addition, South Carolina is 12-0 when scoring six or more runs. South Carolina is 13-3 in games decided by three runs or less. The Gamecocks are 20-1 on the year when scoring first in a game and 24-2 when outhitting the opponent South Carolina's pitching staff owns a 1.79 ERA in 281.0 innings pitched. The Gamecocks have allowed 72 runs, 56 earned, on 209 hits with 264 strikeouts to 77 walks. Opponents own a .206 batting average. The Gamecocks are hitting .289 (305-for-1056) with a .362 on-base percentage and a .397 slugging mark. South Carolina is fielding .974 for the season.

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What looked like a temporary aberration Tuesday became a full-fledged concern Sunday.

Against an 8-16 Appalachian State team, then-No. 2 South Carolina struggled mightily at the plate as the Gamecocks tallied just seven hits and needed ninth-inning heroics from Grayson Greiner to claim a 2-1 win on a night Greiner was supposed to have off after catching 32 innings over the weekend.

Facing an Arkansas pitching staff loaded with strong starters, the problem grew worse.

By a lot.

On Friday, the Gamecocks had no runs to show for seven innings of work until a 2-run eighth rewarded the hard work of Jordan Montgomery, Cody Mincey and Joel Seddon, who combined to allow four hits and one run in a 2-1 win.

It only got worse from there.

One run in Game 2 and no runs in Game 3 became not just a blip but a trend, and with a key SEC series against No. 15 Florida coming up the Gamecocks need to turn around an offense that isn't just stuck in reverse but appears to be pumping the gas. Fortunately, Furman is here to help with a mid-week breather as the Paladins come in having lost five in a row and eight of their last 10.

WHAT TO WATCH: The bats. All eyes will be on how South Carolina's offense responds after a miserable performance in four games last week in which the Gamecocks scored five total runs while going 2-2.





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