Originally posted on Leftover Hot Dog  |  Last updated 3/15/12

South Carolina was the winningest SEC baseball team from 2001-2010.  Then in 2011 they had a pretty successful year, too.  During the same time period (’01-’10) Kentucky was the worst SEC baseball team.  The Wildcats finished the decade a full 64 games behind South Carolina, and 17 games behind 11th place Mississippi State.  Last year Kentucky finished 8-22 in conference and 25-30 overall.  But, as they say, that was then, and this is now.

Kentucky is the last unbeaten baseball team in Division 1.  They stand 18-0, alone in the standings.  According to Boyd’s World, their schedule is #202 in the country.  At first glance, that’s terrible, but South Carolina’s is only #200.  Both teams will benefit tremendously from conference play.  South Carolina is higher in RPI at 8, compared to UK’s 10.  The Wildcats have beaten only two teams with a winning record, USC-Upstate and Morehead State.  On the flip side only App State and Clemson stand out on South Carolina’s resume, and Clemson is dropping rapidly.  It’d be nice to say, Kentucky may be undefeated but who have they played, but those who live in glass houses…

Kentucky will bring the bats this weekend.  As a team they are batting .343 with 19 home runs.  Some of the batters to be aware of are: Cameron Flynn (.439, 6 HR, 16 RBI), Austin Cousino (.393, 1, 14), Zac Zellers (.383, 3, 10), A.J. Reed (.373, 2, 26) and Luke Maile (.359, 3, 21).  All except for Maile are first year players, either transfers, jucos or freshmen.  This will be a very different team than the one we saw last year.

Kentucky’s arms aren’t too bad either.  Here’s what the weekend match ups will look like.

Kentucky South Carolina
L/R Name W/L ERA L/R Name W/L ERA Friday L Rogers 4-0 4.24 L Roth 2-0 0.93 Saturday L Grundy 3-0 2.25 R Price 2-0 3.10 Sunday L Littrell 2-0 1.88 R Holmes 3-0 0.93

It looks like South Carolina will face mostly lefties.  South Carolina has plenty of right handed hitters, so match-ups shouldn’t be a problem.  The Wildcats will throw some right handers out of the bull pen as well.  The main person to be concerned with there is Trevor Gott (1-0, 3.18 ERA).  As a staff, the pitchers have struck out 178 batters and walked only 46.  They’ve only allowed 136 hits, so it’s a good group.

The Gamecocks are clearly Kentucky’s first real test of the season, and you can expect them to be excited about the opportunity.  The young Gamecocks team will be on the road for a series for the first time this season.  They’ll need to keep their composure and have veterans like Roth, Walker and Marzilli set the tone.  This is the road in the SEC, so a series win is the goal.

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