Baseball: Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina

The tenth ranked Vanderbilt Commodores host the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks for a pivotal Thursday-Saturday SEC series. The winner of the series will get a bye in next week's Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament.

No.10 Vanderbilt vs. No.9 South Carolina

Thursday (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
RHP Tyler Beede (7-6, 3.43) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (7-4, 3.21 ERA)

Friday (6:30 p.m.)
RHP Carson Fulmer (4-1, 0.98 ERA) vs. LHP Jack Wynkoop (7-3, 2.16 ERA)

Saturday (2 p.m.)
RHP Tyler Ferguson (7-3, 2.66 ERA) vs. RHP Wil Crowe (6-3, 2.97 ERA)


ABOUT VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt (39-14, 16-11) knocked off a tough Florida Gators squad last week, two games to one. Vandy has now won 11 of its last 15 games. This week the Commodores will see round two of their two final SEC gauntlet series when they host powerful South Carolina, a program that has been regular at the College World Series over the past decade.

Vanderbilt's team batting average is .280 (opponents .197) with a 2.50 ERA (opponents 4.76 versus Vandy).

Dansby Swanson (.343, 29 RBI) leads Vanderbilt in hits with 77 and is tied with Bryan Reynolds (.319, 40 RBI) for the 'Dores most doubles with 20. Reynolds also leads the Commodores in RBIs with 40. Vince Conde (.314, 39 RBI) was named SEC Player of the Week and Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week after going 6-for-17 (.353) with two home runs and eight RBI. Conde also has the most walks for Vandy with 30. Xavier Turner (.290, 30 RBI) has 14 doubles and 10 stolen bases. Rhett Wiseman (.251, 22 RBI), John Norwood (.277, 17 RBI) and Zander Wiel (.266, 30RBI) are some of Vandy's other key batters.

Vanderbilt continues to lead the SEC in combined staff strikeouts with 480. The Commodore staff also is third nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (9.1). Junior RHP Tyler Beede (7-6, 3.43) took a loss last week but pitched a masterful game, pitching six solid innings on Thursday allowing just three hits and one earned run. Beede was drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011. Beede continues to lead Vandy's weekend starters in strikeouts with 82.

Righty Carson Fulmer (4-1, 0.98) has now pitched 28 straight innings of scoreless baseball since becoming a starter in the Arkansas series. Last week at Florida he struck out eight while allowing just four scattered hits.

Sophomore RHP Tyler Ferguson (7-3, 2.66 ERA) was drafted in the 40th round by the San Francisco Giants in 2012. On Saturday Ferguson was far from perfect but pitched well enough to earn a victory and got the job done. He struck out three in five innings of work. Ferguson has 55 strikeouts this season while allowing 20 earned runs and walking 22.

Side-arm thrower Brian Miller (1-0, 1.26 ERA) saw his ERA go back above one after giving up two earned runs last week against Louisville. On Saturday he had one strike out in the lopsided win over Florida. Miller has 25 careers saves, a record for Vanderbilt. In addition to Miller, Adam Ravenelle (3-0, 0.91 ERA) and Hayden Stone (1-0, 1.19 ERA) are the 'Dores most active weekend relief pitchers. John Kilichowski (0-0, 1.37 ERA) and former starter Jared Miller (6-1, 3.95 ERA) could also see action in certain situations.

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA

No. 9 ranked South Carolina (40-13, 16-11) is coming off a series sweep over Missouri and dominated The Citadel on Tuesday night, 10-1. In addition to the Missouri sweep the Gamecocks also have a sweep over Tennessee. South Carolina has 2-game to 1 series wins over Auburn, Alabama and Ole Miss and 2-1 series losses against Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia.

South Carolina as a team bats .283 while opposing teams have a .218 average versus the Gamecocks. Gamecock pitchers have an overall 1.99 ERA while opponents have a 4.67 ERA versus USC.

The Gamecocks have a solid group of batters, much better than what Vandy faced last week at Florida. Catcher and cleanup hitter Grayson Greiner (.344, 49 RBI) is the top Gamecock batter with by far the most USC RBIs and home runs (8). First baseman Kyle Martin (.324, 30 RBI) has started all 54 games for the Gamecocks. Third baseman Joey Pancake (.305, 25 RBI) has struck out just 17 times in 187 at bats. He was selected in the 42nd round by the Texas Rangers in the 2011 MLB Draft. Second baseman DC Arendas (.291, 23 RBI, 4 HR) is one of five Gamecock players with four or more homeruns.

As usual, the Gamecocks have a strong pitching staff. Prior to its Tuesday night victory South Carolina ranked sixth nationally and first in the SEc in strikeout to walk ratio (3.00). South Carolina also leads the SEC and is second nationally in earned run average (1.99).

Left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery (7-4. 3.21 ERA) is the Gamecock'S Friday night ace so the 'Dores will likely see him face Tyler Beede on Thursday this week. Last week Montgomery went 8 1/3 innings striking out eight, walking one while allowing five hits and two earned runs. Commodore fans will remember him from the 2013 SEC Tournament when the 'Dores escaped with a 4-3 win in a no decision for Montgomery.

Sophomore lefty Jack Wynkoop (7-3, 2.16 ERA) is scheduled to pitch on Friday. In his most recent outing Wynkoop struck out two and walked one in a 3-1 Gamecock win over Mizzou on Saturday. Last season Wynkoop earned Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and SEC All-Freshman honors after finishing the season 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA.

Wil Crowe (6-3, 2.97 ERA) is a right-handed freshman pitcher from Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Crowe, who has 46 strikeouts this season, was drafted in the 31st round of the 2013 MLB draft by the Cleveland Indians. Last Sunday, Crowe, who was Louisville Slugger High School All-American, struck out four in seven innings while walking two to lead the Gamecocks to a 2-1 victory over Missouri.

Joel Seddon (2-1, 0.54 ERA) is the Gamecock's closer. In earning 14 saves, Seddon has 41 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings pitched. Righties Taylor Widener (3-0, 0.87 ERA) and Cody Mincey (5-0, 0.54 ERA) are two relief pitchers that South Carolina relies heavily on. Freshman lefty Josh Reagan (3-0, 0.36 ERA) is another Gamecock to watch for out of the bull pen.
SEC STANDINGS

EAST	CONF	GB	ALL

FLA	19-8	--	35-18
VAN	16-11	3	39-14
USC	16-11	3	40-13
KEN	12-15	7	30-21
TEN	11-16	8	30-20
GEO	10-16	8.5 	25-26
MIZ	 6-21	13 	20-30

WEST	CONF	GB	ALL

OLM	17-10	--	38-15
MSU	16-11	1	33-19
LSU	14-11   2	37-14
ALA	14-12	2.5	33-19
ARK	13-14	4	32-21
TAM	13-14	4	32-21
AUB  	10-17	7	28-25
SEC THIS WEEK

South Carolina at Vanderbilt
Mississippi State at Alabama
Arkansas at Missouri
LSU at Auburn
Florida at Tennessee
Kentucky at Georgia
Ole Miss at Texas A&M

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