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Can South Carolina Bounce Back And Get The Upset?

By: Sinderella

After coming off a rough series loss to #2 Arkansas that South Carolina felt like they could've won, they host #4 Kentucky. South Carolina still has a good chance to earn a regional host and getting a series win this weekend would go a long way in making that a reality. Kentucky has been a surprise this college baseball season. They started the year not ranked, yet they have done nothing but win games and are now up to #4 in the country.

They bring a very unique style of offensive play with laying down a lot of bunts, stealing a lot of bases, and then pounding your mistakes for home runs. They can play and beat you in any way. You want to have a 2-1 game? They can play that. You want to blast home runs all night? They can do that too. They do not have a superstar or two like most teams, but they all know their roles and execute at a level higher than anyone else in the conference.

Kentucky's offense is led by the trio of Nick Lopez, Ryan Waldschmidt, and Ryan Nicholson. The first two are great contact hitters with Lopez leading the way with a .386 batting average, and Waldschmidt is 2nd in stolen bases on team going 14-20. Nicholson leads the team in homemruns with 12. Even though those 3 lead the way, if you look through the lineup everyone hits, steals bases, and somehow almost never strikeout. Their hitting coach is amazing.

The pitching and defense of Kentucky is just as good as their offense. The pitching staff is led by the duo of Mason Moore and Dominic Niman. If Niman's name seems familiar, it is because South Carolina was very close in landing him through the transfer portal last offseason. That one still hurts especially seeing how good he has been and how South Carolina has only one mainstay in the rotation week in and week out. The bullpen for Kentucky is overall very good, but they do have their moments of not being as sharp as they usually are.

Overall, this is another series, like Arkansas, where Kentucky does not beat themselves. They do everything well and rarely mess up. If South Carolina wants to win this series, they have to do what they did not do last weekend and play good, solid defense and hit with runners in scoring position. Kentucky has a better offense than Arkansas but not as good of pitching. We should see scores more like the double-header last Saturday. I think that Kentucky's offense puts too much pressure on the corner infielders and catcher to be great and South Carolina has not been very good in bunt defense. There might be some back-and-forth in all three games, but I have Kentucky winning the series 2-1.

(All pictures courtesy of @UKBaseball)

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