Missouri baseball faces tough challenge against No. 11 South Carolina

Reid Glenn

Coming off its biggest series win of the year, its first in conference play, Missouri baseball heads to Columbia, South Carolina, to take on the No. 11 Gamecocks this weekend.

The teams

Missouri (10-17, 3-6 SEC):

The Tigers had a dismal start to the season.

Missouri went 7-10 before the start of Southeastern Conference play, and its first three SEC series have been a mixed bag. The team had an opportunity to win its opening series on the road in Kentucky but ended up going 1-2 against the Wildcats.

What followed was a five-game slide in which Missouri lost every game in its first home series against No. 1 Vanderbilt, let arch-rival Kansas make a seven-run comeback and got blown out 16-2 at home against Texas A&M.

Then, out of nowhere, Missouri put together two of its best performances of the year to beat the Aggies in back-to-back games. In the first win, Seth Halvorsen willed his team to victory with a fiery performance on the mound. Halvorsen’s seven innings, pitched with two runs and just three hits allowed, earned him the Friday starting role against the Gamecocks.

Timely hitting defined Missouri’s Saturday victory over A&M to take the series. After starter Zach Hise gave up a run in each of the first two innings, the Tigers tied the game with two runs in the third. Missouri hitters really came alive in the sixth inning, with first baseman Torin Montgomery sealing the win with a sixth-inning three-run blast.

Only time will tell if the two-game stretch is a lucky fluke, or if it will turn into a lasting streak.

South Carolina (19-8, 6-3 SEC):

The Gamecocks’ season has been defined by streaks.

South Carolina started off by winning its first 11 games, including a two-game sweep of in-state rival Clemson. Scoring 8.36 runs per game, the Gamecocks’ average margin of victory was just over five runs over the stretch.

Everything came crashing down with a mid-March trip series at then-No. 19 Texas. South Carolina dropped three games in a row to the Longhorns, the beginning of a six-game skid. The Gamecock offense putting up just two per game in the streak.

South Carolina then matched the losses with six wins in a row, and it enters the Missouri series having won eight of 10.

The Gamecocks’ struggles are mostly offensive. South Carolina joins Missouri at the bottom of the SEC rankings in most batting categories. The Gamecocks’ 45 home runs are the third-best in the conference, but they rank 11th in batting average (.267), 12th in on-base percentage (.360), 11th in runs scored (171) and 13th in hits (247).

Currently 14-10 all time against Missouri, the Gamecocks will be looking to add to their series lead and find more stable footing this weekend at home against the Tigers.