by Knox Bardeen
Third-ranked South Carolina (26-6, 10-2 SEC) will host top-ranked Vanderbilt (31-3, 10-2 SEC) in a three-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium.
Both teams enter the weekend with a full head of steam. Vanderbilt has won its last 11 games, including three over nationally-ranked Arkansas and three over Alabama.
South Carolina has won nine of its last 10 games, including one game over No. 4 Florida on March 27.
Friday's pitching matchup looks to be the highlight of the series. The Gamecocks will send junior lefty, Michael Roth, to face the Commodores junior left hander, Sonny Gray.
Roth sports a 7-1 record with a 1.25 ERA in 57 23 innings of work this season. He's struck out 54 batters and only walked 13.
Gray is also 7-1, and has a 1.54 ERA. Gray's struck out 66 batters in just 52 23 innings of work.
On Saturday, South Carolina's Colby Holmes (3-0, 3.00 ERA) will face Grayson Garvin, Jr. (6-1, 2.04 ERA) of Vanderbilt.
In the series finale Sunday, freshman Forrest Koumas (4-0, 1.91 ERA) will take the mound for the Gamecocks and senior Taylor Hill (2-0, 3.19 ERA) for the Commodores.
Friday and Saturday's games will start at 7 p.m. ET with Saturday's game being broadcast on CSS. Sunday's first pitch will occur at 1 p.m.
South Carolina leads the series against Vanderbilt, 42-18, and won the last game, 2-0, on April 11, 2010. The Gamecocks have won five of the last seven meetings between the two.
Saturday's starting pitcher for South Carolina, Colby Holmes, was named SEC Pitcher of the Week. Holmes pitched seven innings and struck out seven, both career highs, while allowing Tennessee just three hits.
Through 12 SEC games, opponents have scored just 21 runs against the South Carolina pitching staff that has held teams to a .189 batting average.
Vanderbilt's Anthony Gomez enters the series with a 28-game hitting streak. He started the streak against Stanford on February 25 and has gone 52-for-125 (.416) over that time with 17 multi-hit games included.
Through 12 SEC games, Vanderbilt is hitting .328 as a team and averaging 7.2 runs per game. The Commodores have outscored opponents 86-32.
Two players are climbing the career all-time lists at Vanderbilt. Starting pitcher Sonny Gray moved into seventh place all-time with 251 strikeouts. David Price sits on top of the list with 441. Third baseman Jason Esposito sits in eighth place all-time with 60 stolen bases. Charles DeFrance holds the school record with 96 stolen bases.