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April 11, 2014
Series preview: USC-Florida
No. 15 FLORIDA (21-12, 7-5) at NO. 5 SOUTH CAROLINA (27-5, 7-5)
When: Friday: 7 p.m., Saturday 4 p.m., Sunday 1:30 p.m.
Notes: Saturday's game is sold out with limited standing room only tickets available for Friday and Sunday … South Carolina's pitching staff owns a 1.80 ERA in 290.0 innings pitched. The Gamecocks have allowed 74 runs, 58 earned, on 214 hits with 270 strikeouts to 82 walks. Opponents own a .206 batting average. The Gamecocks are hitting .292 (319-for-1094) with a .363 on-base percentage and a .399 slugging mark. South Carolina is fielding .975 for the season … The Gamecocks are 25-2 on the year when allowing five runs or less in a game. In addition, South Carolina is 13-0 when scoring six or more runs. South Carolina is 13-3 in games decided by three runs or less. The Gamecocks are 21-1 on the year when scoring first in a game and 25-2 when outhitting the opponent.
A year ago, South Carolina traveled to Gainesville and was swept, losing one-run games on Friday (3-2) and Saturday (4-3) and getting blown out 14-5 on Sunday.
That was then.
This is now.
Starting tonight at 7 p.m., the No. 5 Gamecocks are ready to battle a No. 15 Florida team coming in with some confidence after having beaten No. 1 Florida State 8-0 on Tuesday, but also with fresh memories of a series loss in Lexington, Ky., last weekend.
USC can sympathize. It, too, lost a road series last weekend at Arkansas but rebounded with a convincing 9-2 win over Furman in which the bats came alive for the first time in more than a week.
Key to any SEC series is home-field advantage, and with the two Eastern Division leaders squaring off this weekend, USC head coach Chad Holbrook appreciates the challenge.
"We'll have our hands full with Florida," Holbrook said. "Obviously (they're) a very hot team, beating some really good opponents, sweeping LSU, sweeping the season series against No. 1 Florida State.
"They're a young team, very talented, very athletic. The strength of their team is their pitching staff, so they're very similar to us in that regard. It's obviously a big weekend for them being 7-5 just like it is for us, sitting here tied atop the SEC East. It ought to be a great SEC series."
Freshman right-hander Logan Shore will face the Gamecocks tonight sporting a 3-1 record and 1.15 ERA.
"We've got our hands full with Logan Shore (tonight). He's obviously been very tough to score on, and we haven't had a lot of success scoring, so it certainly doesn't look good for us on paper. But that's why you have to play the game.
"We've had a good week of practice, a good mid-week win for us, and hopefully we have some confidence going into the series against Florida because we're certainly going to need it."
USC could be without second baseman Max Schrock tonight and potentially through the weekend as he battles flu-like symptoms. Schrock was scheduled to visit the doctor Thursday to determine the extent of his sickness as he also continues to recover from a sprained ankle.
Other than Schrock, USC should be at full strength this weekend.
WHO TO WATCH: Jordan Montgomery. Against Arkansas a week ago, Montgomery completed his return to ace form in a game the Gamecocks struggled in offensively, but were able to win thanks to a pair of eighth inning runs.
The Gamecocks need Monty back on his game facing a freshman righty who has limited opponents to a .220 batting average. The combination of Montgomery-Mincey-Seddon has proved unstoppable this season, and just as it did a week ago today, USC hopes it can equal a series-opening win.
League games this weekend:
South Carolina NEWS