Tide At USC In Key SEC Series

What has gone before in years past usually has no bearing on the result of a college game in the here and now. Alabama has a winning record against almost every other Southeastern Conference team in almost every sport.

An exception to that history is Alabama baseball against the South Carolina Gamecocks. That is relevant – or if not relevant, at least noteworthy – because as the SEC season reaches the homestretch, the Crimson Tide will play an important three-game series in Columbia this weekend.

In a series that dates back to the 1973 season, Alabama is 25-29 all-time versus the Gamecocks. South Carolina has won the last five games between the two schools, with the last Alabama win coming with a 2-1 victory on May 19, 2011. Alabama's last win in Columbia, S.C., was a 6-4 victory over No. 3 South Carolina on May 1, 2010. The Tide is 7-17 all-time when playing the Gamecocks in Columbia.

An oddity of the upcoming series is that both teams are ranked eighth in the nation. The Crimson Tide is 28-13 overall and 12-6 in SEC games with 12 games remaining in conference play. South Carolina is 32-10 overall, 10-8 in the league. Bama leads the SEC Western Division and is tied with Florida for the best record in conference play overall. Alabama has won 13 of its last 18 games and 24 of the last 32 overall. The Gamecocks are in second place in the SEC East.

The Tide is ranked No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and Perfect Game USA. Alabama remained in the top-10 in the Baseball America poll, earning a top-10 national ranking in back-to-back weeks by Baseball America for the first time since the 2006 season. It's the highest by Baseball America since a No. 4 ranking on June 5, 2006. UA is also ranked No. 17 by the NCBWA and No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches poll.

South Carolina is ranked No. 8 by the NCBWA and in the USA Today Coaches poll, while ranking 10th by Perfect Game USA, 11th by Baseball America and 18th by Collegiate Baseball.

Alabama at South Carolina begins at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time) Friday. Saturday's game will be at 2 EDT/1 CDT and the Sunday wrap-up begins at noon eastern, 11 a.m. central. The Saturday and Sunday games will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Probable pitching matchups are:

Friday – UA-Spencer Turnbull (Jr., RHP, 5-2, 2.14 ERA) vs. SC –Jordan Montgomery (Jr., LHP, 5-3, 3.62 ERA)

Saturday – UA-Justin Kamplain (Jr., LHP, 3-2, 3.54 ERA) vs. SC-Jack Wynkoop (So., LHP, 5-2, 2.07 ERA)

Sunday – UA-TBA vs. SC-Wil Crowe (Fr., RHP, 6-2, 2.37 ERA)

After their fifth SEC series win of the season, the Tide leads LSU by 1.5 games in the Western Division standings. The Crimson Tide is fourth in the SEC with a .283 batting average, while averaging 5.5 runs and 9.7 hits per game. Over the last six games, Alabama is hitting .330 with 10 doubles, two triples and six home runs. When the Tide scores three or more runs they are 28-3, but 0-10 when scoring less than three runs. Alabama has had 10 or more hits in 23 games this season, including reaching the 10-hit mark in 11 of the last 14 games.

Wade Wass enters the South Carolina series with a nine-game hitting streak. During the streak, Wass is hitting .432 (16-37) with four doubles, a home run, six RBI and four runs scored. Casey Hughston is on a season-long eight-game hit streak, where he is hitting .429 (12-28) with two doubles, a triple, four RBI and a run scored. Ben Moore has hit safely in the last six games and is hitting .520 (13-25) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, nine RBI and nine runs scored over that stretch. He has had at least two hits in each of the last six games, which includes a 3-for-5 night against Southern Miss on Tuesday. After missing three games with a bruised wrist, Austen Smith started the last four games, posting a .417 (5-12) average with a double, two home runs and five RBI since returning to the lineup. Smith leads the team in five offensive categories including batting average (.361), home runs (6), RBI (31), slugging (.582) and on-base percentage (.451).

The Gamecocks are tied with Alabama for fourth in the SEC with a .283 team batting average. South Carolina has a 2.00 ERA to lead the conference and rank second in the country.

Kyle Martin leads the team with a .354 batting average, which ranks sixth in the SEC. Grayson Greiner, who is hitting .319 for the season, leads the team with 39 RBI, to go along with four home runs and eight doubles. Connor Bright is hitting .340 with a team-high 10 doubles. Joey Pankake has a .315 average with three home runs and 20 RBI.

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