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Kentucky heads to South Carolina for Key Series

bb_042907_carroll4.jpgCOLUMBIA, S.C. — Hitting the road for the second consecutive weekend, the No. 8 Kentucky baseball team travels to face the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks in a three-game series, set to begin on Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Sarge Frye Field.

Kentucky (21-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) takes to the road after traveling to Auburn, Ala., for its SEC road opener. The Wildcats opened SEC play with a dominating sweep over Alabama, before falling in the Friday and Saturday games at Auburn. UK rebounded on Sunday, claiming a 9-8 win to salvage the series.

Kentucky has compiled staggering statistical numbers during the first 23 games of the season, batting for an SEC-leading .354 average, hitting 32 homers and scoring 233 runs. On the mound, The Wildcats rank as the only staff in the league to sport a sub-3.00 ERA, posting a 2.35 ERA in 203 innings, striking out 202.

Individually, UK has been paced by several players, including outfielders Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill. Carroll leads the team with a .481 average, ripping seven homers and 33 RBI, swiping 5-of-5 bases. Cowgill has cranked out 10 doubles, two triples, and six homers, adding 27 RBI while ranking second in the league with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Ryan Wilkes (.458 avg., 3 HR, 11 RBI), Chris McClendon (.385 avg. 3 2B, 3B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 6-7 SB) and Brian Spear (.321, 9 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI) have completed what is a deadly infield alignment.

The Wildcats trail the all-time series with the Gamecocks, 25-32, including dropping the series at Sarge Frye Field in 2007, 2-1. The Wildcats lost the opener a year ago, rebounding to even the series on Saturday, before falling to the high-powered Gamecocks in the rubber match, 13-6. During the 2006 SEC Championship season, UK swept the Gamecocks in Lexington, hanging up 37 runs in the three-game series.

Earlier in the week, UK outlasted high-powered winds and Xavier in a 5-2 win, sweeping its three-game series with the Musketeers.

Taking the mound for UK on Friday will be Chris Rusin (3-1, 2.33 ERA) to face off with South Carolina ace right-hander Mike Cisco (4-0, 2.45 ERA). On Saturday, UK sends preseason first-team All-SEC pick Scott Green (2-0, 2.70 ERA) to the bump to face junior southpaw Will Atwood (2-0, 3.10 ERA). Sunday, National Pitcher of the Year Watch List member Greg Dombrowski (4-0, 1.75 ERA) takes the mound to wrap up the series against sophomore righty Blake Cooper (3-2, 3.10 ERA).

South Carolina (16-6) enters as the seventh-ranked team in the nation behind a high-powered offensive attack. Preseason All-American Justin Smoak – though by some to be the eventual No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft – leads the way, batting .345 with five home runs and 22 RBI. Shortstop Reese Havens leads the team with seven homers and 32 RBI, batting for a club-high .396 average. Preseason All-American third baseman James Darnell is hitting for a .330 average, with five homers and 28 RBI.

Thanks to Kentucky Media Relations

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