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2001, A Space Odyssey: An inside look of the upcoming weekend series vs. South Carolina

The Gamecocks love to blast baseballs into outer space as they lead the country in home runs.

Gavin Casas celebrates after hitting a home run. Thursday’s game will occur on his birthday.
South Carolina Athletics


  • Thursday, April 6 @ 6 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
  • Friday, April 7 @ 6 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
  • Saturday, April 8 @ 11 a.m. CT (SEC Network)


Game 1

LSU – Jr. RH Paul Skenes (5-0, 0.81, ERA, 44.1 IP, 8 BB, 83 SO)

USC – Jr. RH Will Sanders (2-1, 5.17 ERA, 31.1 IP, 12 BB, 37 SO)

Game 2

LSU – Jr. RH Ty Floyd (5-0, 2.87 ERA, 31.1 IP, 10 BB, 36 SO)

USC – Jr. RH Jack Mahoney (3-0, 2.72 ERA, 36.1 IP, 9 BB, 38 SO)

Game 3

LSU – Jr. RH Christian Little (2-1, 3.79 ERA, 19.0 IP, 8 BB, 28 SO)


Instead of sending astronauts into outer space, the Gamecocks send baseballs.

South Carolina is one of the best slugging teams in the nation as the Gamecocks lead in home runs with 72. The Gamecocks are also 7th in slugging percentage with a slugging percentage of .576.

For the third week in a row, No.1 LSU will have another top 10 weekend series when it will face off against No.6 South Carolina.

South Carolina is coming off of a series win against Mississippi State, winning two out of three games. In their game on Tuesday, the Gamecocks earned a hard-fought 5-0 victory over No. 13 North Carolina.

South Carolina is one of the best pitching teams in the country as the Gamecocks are third in ERA (2.98), fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.63), fifth in WHIP (1.16), sixth in walks allowed per inning (2.80) and 19th in hits per nine innings (7.65 hits).

“South Carolina is a really physical team with big, strong hitters,” said LSU head coach Jay Johnson. “They lead the country in home runs, they have really good pitching, and they’re playing with a ton of confidence. We’re looking forward to playing there, it’s a beautiful ball park, and it will be great to get these two historical programs together and compete when we are both at the top of college baseball.”

For the third week in a row, No.1 LSU will have another top 10 weekend series when it will face off against No.6 South Carolina.

Since their first meeting on the diamond in 1992, LSU leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 40-31-1. LSU has won 18 of its last 29 games and five of its past eight SEC regular-season series versus South Carolina.

The Gamecocks, however, have won the last two series meetings – a sweep in Columbia in 2018 and a 2-1 series victory in 2021 in Baton Rouge. The other meeting between the schools since 2018 occurred in the 2019 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., when the Tigers posted an 8-6 first-round win over South Carolina.

The Gamecocks’ Rocket Arms

South Carolina’s greatest strength is its pitching staff as it is strong from top to bottom.

All-American Will Sanders will get the start on the mound on Thursday. Sanders, who is on the Golden Spikes Award watch list, has a 2-1 record with a 5.17 ERA, 12 walks and 37 strikeouts in 31.1 innings.

Right-hander Jack Mahoney will be the Saturday starter for the Gamecocks. Mahoney, who did not pitch last year due to injuries, has a 3-0 record with nine walks and 38 strikeouts. In 2021, the year that Mahoney last pitched, he made 14 appearances on the mound and had five starts, going 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.

Although the Gamecocks haven’t listed their starter for Saturday, it will most likely be pitcher Noah Hall, who started last Saturday for the Gamecocks. Hall has a 5-1 record with a 3.29 ERA, nine walks and a team-high 43 strikeouts.

Reliever Cade Austin leads South Carolina’s pitching staff in appearances with 12. Veach, who was rated as the No.7 reliever in the country by, is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA with 18 K and a save. Austin is a back-end reliever who often enters the game in late-game situations.

Right-hander Chris Veach has a 1-0 record with a 2.25 ERA and 17 strikeouts. Veach also has two saves for the year. He is another back-end reliever who will appear in late-game situations as well, but who can pitch just a notch longer than Austin.

James Hicks is the reliever that has pitched the most innings for the Gamecocks with 27.2 innings pitched. Hicks has a 5-0 record with a 1.78 ERA, five walks and 29 strikeouts. Hicks also has two saves for the year.

Eli Jones is another reliever you should watch out for. Like Hicks, Jones can pitch multiple innings and is highly effective in doing so. Jones has a record of 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA, five walks and 29 strikeouts.

Eli Jerzembeck is also a stud coming out of the bullpen as he is considered to be one of the best relievers in the country. Jerzembeck has tossed 25 strikeouts and has pitched 19.2 innings for the year.

Left-hander Matthew Becker is another reliever that can cause problems. Becker, who will be one of the top prospects in next year’s draft class, has a 2-0 record with a 3.44 ERA, 26 strikeouts and a save.

How the Gamecocks look at the plate

Although South Carolina is arguably the best slugging team in the country, the Gamecocks have a major issue: strikeouts. South Carolina batters have struck out 283 times, which leads the SEC. However, strangely enough, they also lead the SEC in walks drawn with 190 and are eighth in on-base percentage with a .438 percentage.

Freshman outfielder Ethan Petry has been one of the best hitters in the SEC, let alone the country. The 6’4, 230 lb. freshman leads the Gamecocks in batting average with .439 and has 13 home runs on the year. Petry also leads the team in RBI with 42. Petry was named the Perfect Game Freshman of the Year and was listed on the Golden Spikes Midseason Watch List.

Shortstop Braylen Wimmer is one of the best shortstops in the country as he is rated as the No.20 shortstop by Wimmer has batted .330 at the plate with six doubles, a triple and eight home runs. He has also plated 28 RBIs.

Catcher Cole Messina, who was named to the Buster Posey Award watch list, is another name to look for. Messina has batted .316 at the plate with six doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 36 RBIs.

Vanderbilt transfer first baseman Gavin Casas has been one of the best power hitters in the country. Casas, who was named to the Golden Spikes Midseason Watch List, leads the Gamecocks in home runs with 15. His 15 home runs are also tied for 3rd in the nation. Casas also has a batting average of .308 with six doubles and 36 RBIs.

Unfortunately for South Carolina, they will be without one of its best hitters as Will McGillis will not play this weekend due to injury. McGillis has batted .297 at the plate and has 10 home runs with 22 RBIs.