South Carolina faces tall task against red hot LSU team

South Carolina faces tall task against red hot LSU team

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Jenny Dilworth**

South Carolina has some momentum going in the SEC Tournament with two straight victories, but the Gamecocks will face an extremely tough test in the SEC semifinals on Saturday.

The opponent will be LSU, perhaps the hottest team in the entire country. The Tigers are 41-17 overall, and have won their first two SEC Tournament games by a combined score of 20-3. South Carolina is coming off a 3-1 victory in an elimination game against Kentucky on Friday.

South Carolina should have a bit of confidence, however, since it went into Baton Rouge and gave the Tigers all they could handle three weeks ago. The Gamecocks were on the verge of winning the series, but a controversial call helped lead to a 7-6, 10-inning win for LSU.

The Tigers had won 11 of 12 SEC games entering the conference tournament, and that lone loss came to the Gamecocks.

"We played a great game on Sunday, and had a couple of things not go our way," head coach Chad Holbrook said. "But that's baseball (and) sometimes that happens. With that being said, they're playing at a different level right now. They're terrific. There's no chink in that armor."

Holbrook said that LSU was his preseason No. 1 team entering the season, and the Tigers are now starting to play like that. They'll have an advantage over the Gamecocks in that they received an off day on Friday. Meanwhile, South Carolina will be playing in its fifth game in five days. 

LSU is expected to send out Jared Poche' as the starting pitcher. Poche' pitched seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball against the Gamecocks in the regular season series. South Carolina will try and patch things together on the mound with either Colby Lee or John Parke getting the start. 

"We'll show up and take it one out at a time and see if we get close to that 27th out," Holbrook said.

The Gamecocks are playing some of their best ball of the season, and while the Tigers are on another level themselves, South Carolina is not going to back down. 

"We went into Alex Box (Stadium) and played them close, and we know that we can take one from them," closer Tyler Johnson said. "It wouldn't be too much of a surprise to us because we played them well that series."

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.