LEX 18 True Blue Coverage

Apr 18, 2013 2:55 PM

No. 17 Bat Cats Travel to No. 14 South Carolina

In the midst of a stretch of 14 games against ranked foes in a 16-game span, No. 17 Kentucky will travel to No. 14 South Carolina for a three-game series, with the opener slated for 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Carolina Stadium. The series will resume on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and conclude at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com. The Saturday game will be televised by Fox Sports South.

The Wildcats are coming off a 12-5 midweek loss to No. 8 Louisville on Tuesday. The Cardinals split the two-game series with UK, after Kentucky won 5-4 in 10 innings on April 2 at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Wildcats plated a first-inning run but the Cardinals rallied with a five-run third and a six-run fifth inning to post the series-splitting win. Last weekend, the Wildcats suffered a series loss to Tennessee, as the Vols rallied to win the final two games of the three-game set after UK's 5-4 series-opening win.

Kentucky will send its regular weekend rotation of sophomore southpaw A.J. Reed (2-4, 3.02 ERA) on Friday, senior lefty Jerad Grundy (5-4, 4.18 ERA) on Saturday and junior left-hander Corey Littrell (4-2, 3.16 ERA) on Sunday. South Carolina will use the rotation of senior southpaw Nolan Belcher (5-3, 1.63 ERA) on Friday and sophomore lefty Jordan Montgomery (3-0, 0.69 ERA) on Saturday, with the Sunday starter to be announced.

South Carolina (28-10, 8-7 SEC) is coming off a midweek win over College of Charleston and a series sweep at the hands of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., at McKethan Stadium. In his last series at home, the Gamecocks swept No. 13 Texas A&M a weekend after getting swept by No. 17 Arkansas at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks has hit .287 as a team, with a .430 slugging and a .387 on-base percentage, stealing 39 bases. As one of the top power-hitting teams in college baseball, South Carolina has slugged 62 doubles and 35 homers. Defensively, USC has allowed the fewest steals in the SEC, fielding .974 with three pickoffs. On the mound, USC has a 3.20 ERA in 38 games, walking 97 and striking out 315 in 337 innings.

South Carolina leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 41-32, including a 23-10 mark in games played in Columbia. UK swept the 2012 series with South Carolina sweeping at home in 2011. UK has won three all-time series meetings in Columbia, with its last coming as a sweep in 1999.

In the 2012 series, Kentucky posted a series sweep on SEC opening weekend at Cliff Hagan Stadium. In the opener, UK fell behind 3-0 after six innings, before rallying with two runs in the seventh to take a 3-2 hole into the bottom of the ninth inning. After Austin Cousino was hit by a pitch, Luke Maile belted a walk-off, two-run homer off South Carolina's Evan Beal. Taylor Rogers started for UK, working 5.2 innings, allowing three runs, with Michael Roth working 6.2 innings of two-run ball for USC. In the second game of the 2012 series, UK jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, before USC took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth. UK rallied for a run in the bottom of the sixth, before getting the go-ahead RBI in the seventh. Jerad Grundy started for UK, working 5.2 innings of three-run baseball, with USC All-America closer Matt Price tossing 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs in a 110-pitch start. In the finale, UK jumped out with two runs in the first, before the game sat tied at 3-3 after five. UK plated three runs in the sixth and held on for a 6-3 win, with Trevor Gott completing the sweep with the save in the ninth. Corey Littrell tossed 5.1 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs in the start, with USC's Colby Holmes starting and working 4.2 innings with three runs allowed.

In the meeting last year, the Wildcats were led in hitting by A.J. Reed, who hit .455 (5-for-11) with a double and two RBI. Zac Zellers hit .444 (4-for-9) with a double, RBI and a steal. Catcher Luke Maile hit .364 during the weekend with two homers and six RBI. Austin Cousino had a 4-for-13 weekend against the Cocks in 2012. Overall during the series with USC in 2012, UK had a .271 average and a 2.67 team ERA.

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