The No.4 Tennessee Volunteers will travel to Columbia, South Carolina, to wrap up the regular season. The Volunteers (40-13, 18-9) will battle No.21 South Carolina (32-18, 15-12) in what will help determine the top spot in the SEC East and perhaps the conference crown for the regular season.
Tennessee remains a half-game up in the East. Vanderbilt (17-9) and Florida (17-10) are second and third, respectively, in the division. USC is right behind the Gators with 15 victories.
In the West, Arkansas (19-8) has a healthy lead going into the last week of the regular season. Mississippi State (17-10) and Ole Miss (16-11) are chasing the Razorbacks on that side.
As for the Vols, head coach Tony Vitello has led this group to unfamiliar territory. Tennessee became the first team in the country to claim 40 wins on the season. It becomes the first time UT has hit that mark in back-to-back full seasons in 20 years.
Tennessee will fight South Carolins, as it controls its own destiny in the East.
Here are some key notes on this weekend’s important matchup.
- The Vols are 14-4 on the road, a mark that ranks third-best in the nation – by winning percentage – coming into the week.
- Before the series loss to Arkansas last week, Tennessee swept Missouri in a set that saw UT outscore the Wildcats 26-10. The Vols battled the No.1 Hawgs for the duration of last weekend’s series, as each game was decided by just one run.
- Tennessee comes into the week ranking ninth in RPI. South Carolina is two spots behind at 11.
- The Vols also come into Week 13 with the sixth-best BB/9 rate (2.55) in the country. They are fifth in K/BB with a mark of 3.59.
South Carolina Trends
- The Gamecocks are 20-6 at home. They are coming off of a road sweep of Kentucky where they routed UK 32-12 in the three-game set.
- Before declawing the Wildcats, USC went 4-8 over a dozen games, seeing no consecutive victories for almost a month.
- The Gamecocks have a stiff pitching staff. With a team ERA of 3.76, South Carolina ranks fourth in the league in that category. Senior Brannon Jordan and redshirt junior Thomas Farr are the primary starters.
- USC is still pecking for a third wheel. It may have found a temporary option in Brett Kerry. The junior has logged 45 innings while boasting a 1.80 ERA and 75/9 K/BB.
- Seven guys – outside of Jordan and Farr – have logged 17 IP or more. That group has a collective 3.05 ERA.
- Farr, along with reliever Daniel Lloyd has registered at least 96 mph this season, according to D1 Baseball.
The Tennessee Way
- The Vols have only lost consecutive games once on the season, a double-header that they dropped against Indiana State back in February as part of a four-game series.
- Tennessee’s only series losses have come against Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
- Thursday night’s starter, Chad Dallas (8-1, 4.25 ERA), has bounced back from losses in a big way. The junior has tallied 16 SO in 14 innings while surrendering zero walks. Dallas has given up just 4 ER in those contests.
- The Vols’ lead pitcher will go up against Jordan (5-4, 3.66 ERA), who holds a .181 BAA. Tennessee averages 5.8 runs when Dallas takes the bump this season. The Gamecocks score 5.9 on average when Jordan starts.
Thursday’s game is set for 7 p.m. on SEC Network+. Friday’s contest will begin simultaneously – on the same app – while Saturday’s finale will broadcast at Noon on the SEC Network.