Carolina baseball opens up the SEC schedule this weekend with a home series against the Tennessee Volunteers, who won their first 13 games of the season before dropping two of three last weekend to Wright State.
ANOTHER ONE!@landongray33 gets in on the action with his second HR of the year!— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) March 11, 2020
Vols have now set season highs for hits (20), extra-base hits (10) and home runs (4)!
WATCH: https://t.co/y3efqRNMVf pic.twitter.com/mVPSqqu9Bk
The majority of the Vols’ wins are against smaller schools that lack the depth necessary to consistently compete against an SEC foe, but Tennessee also defeated previously top-ranked Texas Tech, Houston, and top-25 Stanford all in the same weekend at the Round Rock Classic.
Tennessee is an extremely talented team, and has shown it in the beginning of the season.
They have the ability to blow a game wide open, scoring double-digit runs in six of their sixteen games so far this season, even topping 20 runs twice in the young season.
Also, the Vols boast a group of solid pitchers that have led the program’s turnaround from their struggles in recent years.
While Tennessee is a potentially great team, they are a middle-of-the-pack SEC team that seems beatable when compared to the Gamecocks’ other conference opponents such as Georgia, Vanderbilt, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and LSU.
A series victory would be a great boost to the Gamecocks’ morale after losing two weekend series in the non-conference slate to Northwestern and Clemson.
As much as a series win or sweep would help Carolina, losing this series at home would hurt their postseason chances exponentially.
If they drop the series to Tennessee, the remaining schedule looks even more daunting than it already will be, since seven of the eight remaining SEC series are against teams currently ranked in the top-20 by D1Baseball.
I normally hate to say that any game or series is a “must-win” this early in the baseball season, but this feels like a weekend that could boost the Gamecocks to the beginning of a great run if they win, or put the season on life support before it reaches its halfway point.
I expect the Gamecocks to come out this weekend and put themselves in the position to win, especially if they can get quality starts on the mound from Carmen Mlodzinski, Thomas Farr, and Brannon Jordan.
The bats seem to be heating up at the right time, with different guys coming around after slow starts to their respective seasons at the plate.
Hopefully Carolina can use their home-field advantage to help them take the series, although the fan support hasn’t been anything special so far this year.
Nonetheless, it’s the biggest series of the season because it’s the next one.