No. 8 South Carolina at Florida
April 12, 7:30 p.m.
Max Schrock is heating up midway through his first season with the Gamecocks. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday after going 11-for-22 with seven runs and eight RBI last week. Schrock hit the game-winning RBI against Tennessee last Friday and now leads South Carolina with 10 multi-hit games. He seems to be figuring this whole college baseball thing out.
The Gators are 16-18 and 5-7 in SEC play. This is a young team still attempting to cope with departures from last season and ongoing injury issues in 2013. Look at their performances in recent games, though, and you’ll be impressed.
Florida won its 10th come-from-behind win of the season after defeating No. 7 Florida State 4-3 Tuesday night. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Don’t write this team off based on a quick glance at its record.
Jordan Montgomery will provide another huge obstacle for Florida to overcome Friday night. The sophomore holds a 3-0 record for South Carolina with a 0.78 ERA in 23 innings of work. After recently returning from a stress reaction in his throwing arm, Montgomery is looking to get back to his torrid pace.
Alabama at No. 18 Ole Miss
April 13, 5 p.m.
With a 3-2 win over AlcornState Tuesday night, Alabama improved to 21-13 on the year. How many wins did the Crimson Tide collect in 2012? Twenty-one. It’s safe to say this ball club is a step ahead of the prior squad.
While Alabama was celebrating the its most recent success, Ole Miss was trying to figure out how to get back on the winning side of things. The Rebels are riding a six-game losing streak heading into the series with the Tide. A sweep by the Commodores, their first at home since 2010, and two losses to the Gators just further added to the midseason woes.
Ole Miss started out 20-1 in 2013. Go check the schedule if you don’t believe it. Getting on the scoreboard early, though, continues to be a key to success. The Rebels are 18-3 when scoring first and 12-2 when scoring in the first inning. Stuart Turner is batting .412 with 10 doubles and 35 RBI. His success at the plate can be a catalyst for the reeling Rebels.
Alabama is only batting .254 as a team, but its 2.93 overall ERA is a telling stat. Ray Castillo and Keaton Haack headline a solid bullpen staff, combining for seven saves, 48 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .177 in 49.4 innings of work. If the Tide leads late, look for these two to close out strong.
No. 5 Virginia at No. 17 Georgia Tech
April 14, 1 p.m.
Virginia has three losses on its record. Two of those came at home. Playing on the road doesn’t seem to be an intimidating feeling to the Cavaliers.
Georgia Tech defeated Georgia 7-5 Tuesday night, improving to 40-29 against its in-state rival under head coach Danny Hall. At least the Yellow Jackets can boast about that record when football season rolls around.
With a .311 team batting average and a 2.56 overall ERA, it’s easy to see how the Cavaliers have won 30 games already. Five batters hit over .300 regularly. Branden Cogswell leads the team with a .371 average and 11 steals. It’s a dangerous lineup across the board.
For Georgia Tech, how will the pitching staff hold up against another dominant ACC team? After posting a shutout in the first game of its series the Seminoles, the Jackets gave up 19 runs in the final two games. Buck Farmer is nearly untouchable on the mound with a 6-1 record, 1.47 ERA and a .195 opponent batting average. Can the rest of the rotation step up?