The Tennessee baseball team traveled from Greenville, S.C., to Columbia, S.C., Wednesday afternoon, where it closes out the 2008 regular season with a three-game Southeastern Conference series against the 18th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks Thursday through Saturday at Sarge Frye Field. Game times are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.
All three games will be broadcast on the radio in the Knoxville area on WNML AM 990, FM 99.1 & 99.3. The radio broadcasts also can be accessed for free online at UTsports.com.
Success in this series is a must for both teams, as each club is battling to earn a spot in the field of eight at the SEC Tournament, to be played next Wednesday through Sunday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. Tennessee (26-27, 11-16 SEC) currently occupies 11th place in the overall league standings, while South Carolina (35-18, 13-14) sits in ninth place.
“We’ve got a tremendous challenge in front of us,” UT head coach Todd Raleigh said. “We’ve been struggling a bit lately and haven’t played our best over the last couple weekends in SEC play. We just have to play every game this weekend like it’s do-or-die.”
Tennessee trails the all-time series with South Carolina 36-31, dating to 1912. The Gamecocks hold a 22-12 advantage in Columbia, but UT has claimed six of the last 10 meetings overall.
This weekend’s pitching matchups feature UT sophomore left-hander Nick Hernandez (1-5, 5.54 ERA) taking the mound Thursday against South Carolina left-hander Will Atwood (5-2, 4.72 ERA). Freshman All-America candidate Bryan Morgado (5-4, 4.04 ERA) will start for the Vols on Friday opposite Gamecocks right-hander Nick Godwin (5-3, 3.00 ERA). Tennessee has not announced a starting pitcher for Saturday’s series-finale, while South Carolina is expected to send right-hander Blake Cooper (5-5, 3.84 ERA) to the hill.
The series marks the final regular-season games at historic Sarge Frye Field, as South Carolina is slated to move to a new baseball facility for the 2009 season. The Gamecocks began playing at Sarge Frye Field in 1978.