For the final game of the regular season, No. 2 South Carolina (43-12, 21-8 SEC) will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to play the Alabama Crimson Tide (32-23, 14-15 SEC) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Saturday's contest will be broadcast on CSS at; first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The teams split the first two games of the series; Alabama won by one run on Thursday and South Carolina won by three on Friday.
Both teams have already nailed down bids to the 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament, but neither team has any clue where it will be seeded. A win by either could have major seeding implications. The Crimson Tide will send senior Jonathan Smart to the mound on Saturday. Smart is 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA this season in four starts. His last start was Sunday against Auburn where he gave up eight hits and four earned runs in seven innings of work. Smart is sixth in the SEC with his 2.21 ERA, but has spent most of the season as the team's closer, notching nine saves along the way.
The Gamecocks will rely on sophomore Colby Holmes in Saturday's rubber match. Holmes is 5-2 with a 3.70 ERA and has held opponents to three earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts this season. Holmes has also made five appearances in relief. Twice this season Holmes has been named SEC Pitcher of the Week, including last week when he threw 8 23 innings against Arkansas and allowed just six hits and one earned run in the victory.
The all-time series history is split evenly with South Carolina and Alabama each winning 25 games. The two teams first met in 1973.
- South Carolina is much better at home (31-4) than on the road (11-8). And even more bad news for the Gamecocks comes after examining their record on particular days of the week. South Carolina has lost more games on Saturday (4) than any other day of the week this season.
- Colby Holmes has been so successful on the mound because he holds hitters to a .228 batting average and has great control. In 58 13 innings of work hes struck out 55 batters and walked just 14.
- Gamecock first baseman Christian Walker entered the series in sixth place in the SEC with a .360 batting average. In two games he's driven that average up to .362.
- Over his last 21 games, junior Alabama shortstop Jared Reaves leads the team in hitting with a .395 batting average (32-for-81). He's also tied for the team lead with Taylor Dugas with 19 doubles.
- Before Jonathan Smart was moved into the rotation he was actually a top-notch closer. He was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List and was still tied for fourth place in the SEC with nine saves headed into the weekend series.
- Saturday's game has monumental seeding implications for the Crimson Tide. If they beat South Carolina there is a chance they could win the Western Division and land the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament. If Alabama loses, it could fall all the way to the No. 6 seed, while South Carolina could gain the No. 1 seed.