Baseball Preview: Yardcocks vs. Auburn Tigers

Fresh off their 3rd straight victory over Clemson on Wednesday, the Gamecocks (22-10, 6-6 SEC) will travel to Plainsman Park to take on the Auburn Tigers (22-12, 6-6 SEC). Despite the exciting victory over Clemson, USC is still looking to erase bad memories of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend. Auburn enters the game having won three straight SEC series.

Weather – The Gamecocks will experience warm weather on Friday with a first-pitch temperature of 75 degrees. The two teams will look to avoid the scattered thunderstorms that could be in the area, as there is a 30 percent chance of rain at game time.

With Saturday's game starting earlier in the afternoon, the weather should be even warmer at 81 degrees. Once again there will be a 30 percent chance of rain, with 20 mph winds in the area.

It should be another windy day on Sunday as the temperature drops into the high 50's and the chance of rain drops to 10 percent.

Game times – Friday 7 p.m. | Saturday 4 p.m. | Sunday 3 p.m.

Series History – South Carolina leads the overall series 27-16. The Tigers have not beaten the Gamecocks in a series since 1997.

The Gamecocks won last year's series 2-1, rebounding from a 16-1 Friday beat down, to outscore the Tigers a combined 28-5 in Saturday and Sunday wins.

Coaches – In his 12th season at South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner has compiled an incredible record of 522-230 at USC, including a 221-162 record in SEC play. In the past eight seasons Tanner's Gamecocks have a 390-158 record good for the fourth highest win total in Division 1 college baseball. During that time-span, USC also has an SEC-best 147-95 record in conference games. Tanner has also led the Gamecocks to three straight College World Series from 2002-2004 as well as eight NCAA regionals, seven NCAA Super Regionals, and two SEC Championships.

Tanner recently picked up his 900th career win against arch-rival Clemson and with the Gamecocks posting a 22-10 record this season Tanner has pushed his all-time record to 917-403-3 in 21+ seasons.

In his fourth season with Auburn Tom Slater has put together a record of 109-97 with the Tigers. Slater owns a career record of 159-197. Slater has recruited extremely well for the Tigers and finally has his type of team in place. The skipper loves an athletic, aggressive, base-stealing style of baseball and has loaded his team with a group of guys who hit for average and can run.

Tanner and Slater have a different approach to the game, and while both teams are very similar in wins and losses they are opposites in composition and in their coaches' theory. The long-ball will face off with aggressive small-ball in this huge SEC match-up.

South Carolina Road/Auburn Home Records – South Carolina is 4-5 on the road. Auburn is 18-5 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations – South Carolina will send to the mound junior RHP Mike Cisco (4-1, 4.30 ERA) on Friday, junior LHP Will Atwood (3-1, 3.71 ERA) on Saturday, and sophomore Blake Cooper (3-3, 3.32 ERA) on Sunday.

On the hill for Auburn will be a trio of freshmen in LHP Grant Dayton (4-1, 3.29 ERA), LHP Cory Luckie (4-3, 3.31 ERA), and RHP Bradley Hendrix (1-0, 4.95 ERA).

Mike Cisco will take the mound Friday looking to build on an incredible pitching performance in Athens that saw the junior go eight shutout innings with three strike outs. The Gamecocks went on to lose the game 1-0, though Cisco did not receive the loss. Cisco has pitched 44.0 innings on the season giving up 51 hits and 21 runs.

The Tigers will counter with redshirt freshman Grant Dayton who will be making his ninth start of the season. Dayton is coming off a solid performance against Arkansas in which he went six, giving up two earned runs and five hits. The lefty has pitched 41 innings on the season giving up 15 earned runs and 39 hits.

Will Atwood will face the Tigers following a loss to Georgia in which he pitched well enough to win. Atwood gave up five hits and two earned runs through 7.1 innings of work. Atwood, acting as the only left-hander in the rotation, has been solid on the season giving up 14 earned runs and 24 hits in 34.0 innings of work.

Auburn will counter in the lefty-lefty showdown with freshman Cory Luckie. Luckie will look to rebound from a loss at the hands of the Razorbacks in which he went 6.2 innings giving up six hits and three earned runs. Luckie leads the team in starts with 10 and has pitched 49.0 innings giving up 36 hits and 14 earned runs. Sunday starter Blake Cooper will also look to rebound from a loss in Athens. Cooper will be making his eighth start of the season. He has given up 16 earned runs and 47 hits in 43.1 innings of work. Cooper gave up four earned runs and eight hits in 7.2 innings of work.

Facing off with Cooper will be freshman Bradley Hendrix who will be looking to forget a 2.1 inning outing against Arkansas last Sunday. Hendrix gave up eight hits and six earned runs in those innings. Hendrix is the rookie of the rotation (if there is one in an all-freshman starting group), and has started just three games on the season. The young righty has given up 20 earned runs on 44 hits in 36.1 innings.

The Gamecocks have a team ERA of 3.71 while opponents are batting .246 against them. The Tigers team ERA is 3.93 with opponents hitting .261.

Relief Pitching – The Gamecocks will be looking to continue life without Curtis Johnson this weekend.

Junior RHP Brandon Todd (1-1, 2.31 ERA) has stepped up big in Johnson's absence and will be required to continue to do so for the Gamecocks to have a chance at making a late-season run. Todd has pitched 11.2 innings on the year giving up three earned runs and 10 hits.

After starting a mid-week game last week, Sean Wideberg (2-0, 5.50 ERA) should be available out of the pen again this weekend. Wideberg has been up-and-down on the season, but is very effective when he is on.

Junior LHP Alex Farotto (0-0, 2.25 ERA) has been a situational lefty out of the pen, but has only given up two earned runs on the season.

Freshman RHP Parker Bangs (2-1, 4.05 ERA) has shown a ton of potential this year and has been responded when called upon in most cases. Bangs picked up the loss in a heartbreaking 1-0 set-back against the Bulldogs last Friday, but will be needed in the near future and will be counted on to get the job done.

Freshmen Justin Hopper (0-0, 5.06 ERA) and junior Craig Thomas (0-1, 3.93 ERA) could also be available out of the pen.

Sophomore righty Michael Hurst (2-1, 2.61 ERA) came up big in Auburns weekend series pitching big innings in Friday's win and receiving the win after not allowing a single runner in 2.2 innings of Sunday's game. Hurst has made 15 appearances on the season giving up just six earned runs.

Junior Bryan Woodall (0-1, 3.00 ERA) collected his eighth save of the season last weekend tying him for sixth on Auburn's single season list. Woodall has pitched 21.0 innings on the season striking out 23 batters while walking just one. Hitting – On offense the Gamecocks are led by juniors Justin Smoak, Reese Havens, and James Darnell, as well as senior Phil Disher.

A future first round pick, Smoak is hitting .359 on the year with nine home runs and 27 RBI. Havens is hitting a team-leading .378 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI. Third baseman Darnell has rebounded from an early-season slump to raise his batting average to .341. Darnell has hit a team-leading 12 home runs to go along with a team-leading 46 RBI. Catcher and designated hitter Disher also started slow, but the senior leader has come on strong as of late and is hitting .277 on the year. Disher has hit 10 home runs and has 31 RBI.

The Gamecocks are hitting .308 as a team and have hit 56 home runs on the season.

Auburn is led by Hunter Morris, Brian Fletcher, and Mike Bianucci at the plate. Morris leads the team with a .366 batting average and six home runs to go along with a team-leading 31 RBI.

Fletcher is hitting .337 on the year with two jacks and 10 RBI. Bianucci is hitting .333 with five home runs and 27 RBI.

The Tigers have been terrors on the base paths this year as Joseph Sanders has 11 steals, and Bianuicc and Trent Mummey have 10 each.

Overall the Tigers are hitting .313 as a team. Auburn has 56 stolen bases on the season in comparison to just 17 for the Gamecocks.

However, the Tigers only have 25 homers to USC's 56 long-balls.

Who's Hot – Third baseman James Darnell has been amazing as of late and continued his outstanding play at the plate with a 4-for-4, two-home run, five-RBI day against the rival Clemson Tigers. Justin Smoak has had a good week at the plate as well going 4-for-8 with three RBI and two home runs on the week so far.

Friday starter Mike Cisco rebounded from his worst outing of the year with his best pitching eight scoreless against Georgia last Friday. Cisco gave up just six hits.

For Auburn Brian Fletcher went 8-for-12 in their series with Arkansas driving in five with three doubles and a homer. Junior Matt Hall has a 13-game hitting streak going after another strong week at the plate. Fletcher, Hall, and Ryan Jenkins led the Auburn offense all weekend driving in 10 and scoring nine of Auburns 21 runs against the Razorbacks.

Chasing History on the Plains – Smoak will be chasing history this weekend after his solo shot against Clemson tied the South Carolina career home run record at 48. Hank Small originally set the record in 1972-75. Smoak hit 17 homers as a freshman setting the USC record for a freshman and 22 as a sophomore. The future first round pick recently landed on the Top-10 career list for doubles at USC, and is leading the SEC with 32 walks.

With his next home run, Smoak will sit alone atop the school all-time list.

Home Runs Career List

48 Justin Smoak (2006-07-08) 48 Hank Small (1972-73-74-75)

Doubles Career List

67 Mac White (1991-92-93-94) 61 Landon Powell (2001-02-03-04) 54 Michael Campbell (2003-04-05-06) 53 Greg Morhardt (1982-83-84) 51 Mike Curry (1996-97-98) 51 Derick Urquhart (1995-96-97-98) 48 Jeff Barns (1985-86-87) 47 Jeff Parnell (1990-91-92-93) 45 Paul Hollins (1978-79-80-81) 44 Justin Smoak (2006-07-08)


SEC Pct. GB All Pct. Home Away Neutral vs. Div. vs. Top 25 Last 10 Streak

Georgia 9-3 .750 -- 20-12 .625 12-6 7-4 1-2 5-1 10-7 7-3 L2

Florida 8-4 .667 1.0 23-10 .697 19-3 4-6 0-1 1-2 4-4 5-5 W3

Kentucky 7-5 .583 2.0 26-5 .839 21-1 3-4 2-0 1-2 1-2 7-3 W3

Tennessee 7-5 .583 2.0 20-12 .625 16-3 3-7 1-2 3-3 4-1 5-5 L1

South Carolina 6-6 .500 3.0 22-10 .688 18-5 4-5 0-0 3-6 7-4 6-4 W2

Vanderbilt 5-6 .455 3.5 21-10 .677 17-4 2-6 2-0 2-1 3-5 6-4 W2


SEC Pct. GB All Pct. Home Away Neutral vs. Div. vs. Top 25 Last 10 Streak

Ole Miss 7-5 .583 -- 22-11 .667 18-5 4-5 0-1 3-3 3-0 7-3 W7

Auburn 6-6 .500 1.0 22-12 .647 18-5 3-7 1-0 2-1 2-5 7-3 W3

LSU 5-7 .417 2.0 21-11 .656 18-6 3-5 0-0 4-2 1-2 6-4 W2

Alabama 5-7 .417 2.0 19-15 .559 14-6 3-7 2-2 3-3 4-2 6-4 W2

Arkansas 3-8 .273 3.5 17-14 .548 12-6 3-8 2-0 2-4 1-5 3-7 L2

Mississippi State 3-9 .250 4.0 14-18 .438 11-10 3-8 0-0 1-2 2-11 5-5 L3

SEC Schedule

Friday April 11

Alabama at Tennessee 7 p.m. ET Arkansas at Florida 6:30 p.m. ET South Carolina at Auburn 6 p.m. CT Kentucky at Georgia 6:30 p.m. ET LSU at Ole Miss [CSS Delay] 6:30 p.m. CT Vanderbilt at Mississippi State 6:30 p.m. CT

Saturday April 12

Alabama at Tennessee [SS] 7 p.m. ET Arkansas at Florida 4 p.m. ET South Carolina at Auburn 3 p.m. CT Kentucky at Georgia [FSN] 4 p.m. ET LSU at Ole Miss 4 p.m. CT Vanderbilt at Mississippi State 2 p.m. CT

Sunday April 13

Alabama at Tennessee 2 p.m. ET Arkansas at Florida 1 p.m. ET S. Carolina at Auburn [CSS Delay] 2 p.m. CT Kentucky at Georgia 2 p.m. ET LSU at Ole Miss [JSN] 1:30 p.m. CT Vanderbilt at Mississippi State 1:30 p.m. CT

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