South Carolina Baseball: With no mid-week contest, Gamecocks begin series against another top-5 opponent

South Carolina baseball will have a chance to flip their season a bit with a home series win over the top-5 Kentucky Wildcats this weekend.
South Carolina baseball star Ethan Petry
South Carolina baseball star Ethan Petry / Cyndi Chambers Sports?Special to the

South Carolina baseball dropped a home series last weekend to the Arkansas Razorbacks. It was the team's fifth series loss in seven tries against teams from power conferences (2-4 in SEC series, and a sweep at the hands of the rival Clemson Tigers).

The Gamecocks did not play a mid-week contest this week as the University of South Carolina is in the middle of exam week, but USC is back on the diamond this weekend with another difficult task in front of them. Carolina sure could use a series win this weekend as they welcome the top-5 Kentucky Wildcats to Founders Park for a three-game set.

The series against Kentucky will be a tough one for the Gamecocks as the Wildcats have been one of the top teams in the nation this season.

On offense, the ‘Cats are one of the peskiest teams in the conference. They currently lead the SEC in fewest strikeouts and most stolen bases and are top-5 in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and runs scored. In contrast, the Gamecocks have the 2nd-most strikeouts and are in the bottom half of the SEC in scoring. Those trends on offense will have to reverse a bit for USC to pull off the series win.

Six blue and white bats boast OPS numbers north of .900, and three Wildcats are legitimate threats to swipe a bag if they make their way onto the basepaths. Nick Lopez is in the top-5 in the SEC in batting average, Lopez and Emilien Pitre are in the top-5 in doubles, and Ryan Waldschmidt and Devin Burkes are tied for 5th in steals.

On the mound, Kentucky and South Carolina have similar overall numbers, but UK has put up better performances in conference play than USC. Carolina has allowed 3 runs or fewer in just 6 of their 18 games against SEC competition, while Kentucky has done so on 10 occasions.

The good news for Mark Kingston's club, though, is that last weekend was better for the Gamecock pitching staff than it was for the Wildcat hurlers, so perhaps the Carolina arms can build off of some pretty good starts from the Arkansas series to have a strong showing this weekend. The announced rotation is just like last week with Roman Kimball going on Friday, Eli Jones taking the bump on Saturday, and TBA for Sunday.

The series begins on Friday with a 7:00 PM EST first pitch at Founders Park and on SEC Network+. Saturday's game 2 starts at 6:00 PM EST and will be on SEC Network, and the finale on Sunday is also on SEC Network with a start time of 3:00 PM EST.

Next. South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock catcher makes award list. South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock catcher makes award list. dark