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March 5, 2004

Columbia, S.C. –

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The University of South Carolina baseball team (10-0) returns to action this weekend as the Gamecocks and Clemson (3-3) meet in a home and home series beginning Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Sarge Frye Field. Sunday’s game will be played at Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium with first pitch set for 2 p.m. The starting pitching matchup is also set for Saturday with junior RHP Billy Buckner (2-0, 3.77 ERA) on the mound for South Carolina and sophomore RHP Jason Berken (1-0, 0.00 ERA) getting the ball for Clemson. Sunday’s starters for both teams are to be announced.

The South Carolina-Clemson series dates back to 1899 with both teams having met 263 times on the baseball diamond. The two teams will also meet on April 7 at Clemson and April 14 back at South Carolina, for a total of four games on the year. South Carolina’s 10-0 start is the best start by a Gamecock team since the 2001 season in which the Gamecocks won the first 13 games and went on to compile a 49-20 record. Five of South Carolina’s 10 wins have been shutouts with six of the 10 games featuring South Carolina pitchers recording at least 10 strikeouts. In nine of 10 games the Gamecock offense has collected at lesast 10 hits and in all 10 games USC has hit at least one home run.

Live stats and live audio for both baseball games will be available at USCSPORTS.COM.

Head Coach Ray Tanner:

“This is the rivalry weekend and it is great for college baseball. It is great to be a player, coach, and fan being involved in this rivalry. It is going to be a great challenge for everybody involved. We are looking for guys to rise up and I am sure Coach (Jack) Leggett is looking for the same thing from his guys.”

On Billy Buckner; “I think he understands the rivalry. He actually attended one of the games when he was in Junior College. He understands it and he is excited about getting the ball.”

On Clemson: “They are 3-3 on the season but they are a good club. They played on the road, they had a couple tough games, they ran into an absolutely outstanding East Carolina team. It doesn’t matter when we play. It doesn’t matter if we are 0-10 and they are 10-0, it is rivalry weekend and you throw the records out of the window. “

Junior Infielder Kevin Melillo:

“We know it is going to be a great game. It has been a great series, always is, and always will be. We are going come out here and have fun playing in front of these crowds that we are going to get this weekend. “

On status of the two teams: “I think we are were we need to be. We are 10-0 right now and I wouldn’t expect anything less of our ball club. Clemson had some early skids but they are a good team. They will bounce back, they always do. They are going to play hard like they always do and it is going to be a hard series. “

On Billy Buckner: “Earlier in the fall we kept talking about playing Clemson and this is the one series he looks forward to a lot. He has been preparing for this the whole season. He is a very confident pitcher, he got great stuff, and he is going in there with the mentality to win. We are very confident when playing behind a guy like Billy Buckner.”

Compared to other rivalries: “I am originally from Florida and grew up with the Florida – Florida State rivalry and thought nothing could top that. Then I have been here for four years and must say this may be the best rivalry in college baseball, college sports, anything. If you look at it from a baseball standpoint, it is kind of like Boston and New York. It is one of those great series where anything can happen and you know the crowd is going to be involved, it is going to be a great time.

Senior Catcher Landon Powell:

“I think we will have to step up our game a little bit more. Clemson is always a big game for us and they always play us hard. We have been playing well but this is going to be a true test this weekend.”

On Billy Buckner: “He is a big game guy and he will be fine, he will go out there and give his best. He has been in tough situations before and we feel comfortable with him out there.”