SEC Opener: USC Baseball Hosts Ole Miss

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By USC SID

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) -- South Carolina (16-0) begins SEC play on Friday, March 14 beginning a three-game series with Ole Miss (16-2). First pitch for the opener is 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The game can be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station 107.5 FM, "The Game." It will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and the All Access Channel on GamecocksOnline. Saturday's game is 4 p.m. and will also be streamed on ESPN3 and GamecocksOnline. Sunday's series finale will be only streamed on GamecocksOnline and will have a first pitch of 1:30 p.m.

South Carolina is ranked No. 1 by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, the NCBWA and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll as well as No. 3 by Perfect Game. Ole Miss is ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, No. 14 by the NCBWA, No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 21 by Baseball America and No. 24 by Perfect Game.


PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION
Friday
South Carolina - Jordan Montgomery (Jr. LHP) 3-0, 1.99 ERA, 22.2 IP, 8 BB, 25 SO
Ole Miss - Chris Ellis (Jr. RHP) 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 27.2 IP, 10 BB, 20 SO

Saturday
South Carolina - Jack Wynkoop (So. LHP) 4-0, 1.37 ERA, 26.1 IP, 3 BB, 24 SO
Ole Miss - Christian Trent (So. LHP) 2-0, 3.96 ERA, 25.0 IP, 1 BB, 25 SO

Sunday
South Carolina - Wil Crowe (Fr. RHP) 3-0, 0.99 ERA, 27.1 IP, 3 BB, 21 SO
Ole Miss - Sam Smith (Jr. RHP) 3-0, 1.61 ERA, 22.1 IP, 6 BB, 13 SO

DID YOU KNOW??
South Carolina's nine shutouts this year surpassed its total number of shutouts from last season of eight.

A LOOK BACK
Top ranked South Carolina broke out to a three-run lead in the first two innings and six pitchers combined for a five-hit shutout as the Gamecocks defeated Furman 5-0 on Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina improves to 16-0 on the year with its ninth shutout of the season. Carolina has shut out four consecutive opponents. Furman drops to 6-10 on the season.

Freshman right-hander Taylor Widener earned his first career win in a predetermined split. He allowed just a hit and two walks in 3.1 innings. Trey McNickle, Josh Reagan, Reed Scott, Hunter Privette and Cody Mincey all had scoreless outings as well. The Gamecock bullpen has not allowed a run in 47.2 innings dating back to the first game of the season.

THE STREAK
South Carolina's 16-game winning streak is the best start for South Carolina since the 2004 season when the Gamecocks opened with an 18-0 record.

THE WEEK BEFORE
South Carolina won a pair of games vs. Stetson in midweek competition and followed that up with a three-game sweep of Brown to improve to 15-0 on the year.

South Carolina did not allow a run in the entire Brown series with three shutouts. South Carolina outscored Brown 24-0 with victories of 13-0, 8-0 and 1-0.

TO ARMS
South Carolina's pitching staff has put together a 1.12 ERA in the first 16 games with 144 strikeouts to 34 walks in 144.0 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .196 against Carolina. The Gamecocks have allowed only 20 runs this season in 16 games. South Carolina's bullpen has a streak of 47.2 consecutive innings not allowing a run dating back to the season-opening game vs. Bucknell. Carolina has allowed double-digit hits just once.

SCOUTING OLE MISS
Ole Miss brings a 16-2 record to Carolina Stadium and are ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

The Rebels have won all four weekend series this year with a weekend sweep at Stetson, a pair of wins vs. Georgia State and sweeps of UCF and Arkansas-Little Rock at home.

Ole Miss is one of the more experienced teams in the league this year with seven of nine projected position starters juniors or seniors. Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC in hitting with a .323 average at the plate. Junior outfielder Auston Bousfield leads the team with a .413 average and 16 runs scored. Senior catcher Will Allen owns a .338 average at the plate as well as 23 RBI, the second highest RBI total in the SEC. Senior second baseman Preston Overbey is hitting ..343 and senior third baseman Austin Anderson owns a .338 average.

Junior right-hander Chris Ellis leads the rotation with a 2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in 27.2 innings. He has allowed just one unearned run in four starts. Sophomore left-hander Christian Trent is 2-0 with a .396 ERA with 25 strikeouts and junior right-hander Sam Smith sports a 3-0 record with a 1.61 ERA.

The Rebels did lose two starters from their weekend rotation last year as both Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers were selected in the top five rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft. Wahl went 10-0 on the mound with a 2.03 ERA and Mayers finished 5-6 with a 2.83 ERA. Ole Miss also lost first-team All-America catcher Stuart Turner, who hit .374 with five homers and 51 RBI on his way to the Johnny Bench Award award.

LAST TIME VS. OLE MISS
South Carolina won one of three games in a series at Ole Miss in the 2011 season. The Rebels were the only SEC team to claim a series against the Gamecocks as the Gamecocks went on to win the SEC regular season championship and a second consecutive national title.

South Carolina opened the series with a 6-1 win on Friday night. Michael Roth allowed just one run in eight innings of work to earn his 10th win of the season and was backed by an offense that tallied 14 hits as the top ranked Gamecocks defeated Ole Miss 6-1.Roth battled the entire night and limited Ole Miss to just six hits while striking out six batters and walking one. Senior reliever John Taylor pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the win. Ole Miss starter Matt Crouse suffered the loss. He allowed five runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Carolina's 14-hit evening featured a 3-for-4 day at the plate for Robert Beary with one run scored and one RBI. Scott Wingo went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI as well. Christian Walker, Adrian Morales and Evan Marzilli had two hits apiece also.

Ole Miss countered in game two of the series with a 10-2 victory behind a homer and four RBI from Alex Yarbrough. Ole Miss starting pitcher David Goforth worked six innings and allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

In Sunday's rubber game, Preston Overbey's RBI sacrifice fly to center field scored Matt Tracy with the winning run as Ole Miss defeated South Carolina 7-6 in a back and forth affair.

The game saw both teams trade leads before Ole Miss won it in the ninth inning. After a leadoff walk by Matt Tracy, the Rebels put runners on the corners on a one-out single by Miles Hamblin. That set the stage for Overbey, who drove the first pitch he saw from Gamecock reliever Matt Price into center field for a game-winning sacrifice fly clinching the game for Ole Miss.

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