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May 25, 2004

Birmingham, Ala. – South Carolina (41-15) begins SEC Tournament play on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. CT as the Gamecocks face Ole Miss (39-17) in first round action at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Carolina is seeded fifth in the SEC Tournament with the Rebels seeded fourth. South Carolina will start junior LHP Matt Campbell (8-4, 3.21 ERA) with sophomore RHP Mark Holliman (9-2, 2.67 ERA) on the mound for Ole Miss. The Gamecocks are ranked as high as seventh in the nation this week by Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll with Ole Miss ranked as high as 12th (Collegiate Baseball/Sports Weekly ESPN Coaches).

Earlier this year, South Carolina defeated Ole Miss in two of three games in the regular season series in Columbia. South Carolina scored early to defeat Holliman and the Rebels in the Friday opener with the Gamecocks coming out on top 7-3, the last loss for the All-SEC pitcher from Germantown, Tenn. Brendan Winn collected four RBI and had a two-run homer to lead the Gamecocks. Kevin Melillo also homered in the Gamecock win. Ole Miss defeated the Gamecocks and Campbell the next day behind a solid performance by Stephen Head, who threw a complete game and homered in the 6-1 win for the Rebels. South Carolina won the series on Sunday with a 3-0 win behind a complete game shutout by freshman Arik Hempy and a two-run homer by Landon Powell.

Live stats and live audio will be available at USCSPORTS.COM with Mike Morgan and Tom Price calling the action. In other first round SEC Tournament action, sixth seeded Florida opens up with third seeded LSU (10 a.m. CT), second seeded Georgia faces the seventh seed Vanderbilt (1 p.m. CT) and the top seed Arkansas and eighth seed Tennessee (8 p.m. CT) close out the first day.


Senior catcher Landon Powell tied a school record in the final game of the regular season when he homered in his first three at bats in an 8-2 win at Georgia on May 23. Powell was denied a chance to eclipse the record when Georgia walked him in his next two at bats. Sophomore left fielder Michael Campbell also tied the single game record when he homered three times March 23 in a 12-1 win at Wofford. Eight other Gamecocks have hit three home runs in a game over the years.

Powell also homered in the first inning of the second Georgia game giving him four homers in the three game series. That increased his season total to 19 home runs and the team lead. Brendan Winn has 18, Steve Pearce 15 and Michael Campbell 14. South Carolina leads the SEC in home runs with 93.

Landon Powell will set a school record for games played in a career when he takes the field at the SEC Tournament. The final game of the regular season was the 236th game that the senior catcher has appeared in as a Gamecock. That tied the mark set, 1991-94, by USC Hall of Fame outfielder Mac White.

After being sidelined five weeks with mononucleosis, right-hander Billy Buckner made two starts in the final week of the regular season. With a 30 pitch count limit, Buckner pitched 2 1/3 innings against Wofford May 19. He allowed two runs, one earned and two hits in a no decision. Buckner started the final game of the regular season against Georgia May 23 and earned his first win over a SEC opponent and improved his overall record to 5-2. In six innings, Buckner allowed six hits, two earned runs, walked one and struck out seven in the 8-2 Gamecock win. Billy Buck, who struck out 16 Clemson batters in 7 2/3 innings March 6, has worked 68 innings with 86 strikeouts this season.

The South Carolina pitching staff has compiled 10 shutouts this season. The latest was May 15, a two-hit complete game against Tennessee by Aaron Rawl. Matt Campbell pitched 10 innings to defeat Alabama 1-0 on April 25. He allowed three hits. On April 28, Zac McCamie and Harris Honeycutt combined to shut Wofford out 3-0 on three hits. Freshman left-hander Arik Hempy shut Ole Miss out 3-0 on May 2. He allowed four hits. Other combined shutouts this season have been 38-0 and 3-0 over Charleston Southern, 12-0 over UNC Wilmington, 11-0 over Radford, 5-0 over George Mason and 7-0 over Delaware State. The school record for shutouts is 14 set by the 1975 Gamecock team.