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June 17, 2004

Omaha, Neb. – The 2004 edition of the South Carolina baseball team saw Rosenblatt Stadium up close and personal for the first time on Thursday. The Gamecocks worked out for 50 minutes beginning at 1 p.m. Following the workout, the team went over to lift weights at Creighton University. Then it was back to the Omaha Hilton for some down time and then back over to the stadium for a team bar-b-que, autograph session with the fans and the traditional opening ceremonies, culminated by a live concert and fireworks show. Head Coach Ray Tanner took part in a coaches’ press conference at 2 p.m. Coach Tanner and other members of the USC travel party then participated in an administrative meeting at 3:30 p.m.

The team headquarters is the Hilton Omaha, located adjacent to the city’s new convention center. The hotel has been open for just four months and is a beautiful property. Several of the players’ families stopped by the hotel after the opening ceremonies. Jim and Laura Campbell, parents of USC left-handed pitcher Matt Campbell, had just arrived into Omaha after a long 18-hour drive from their home in Gray Court, S.C. The players were dressed sharp in their black Gamecock baseball collared shirts and khaki slacks for Thursday night’s festivities at Rosenblatt.

For second baseman Kevin Melillo, this is his third straight trip to Omaha. “It’s an unbelievable feeling coming back here again,” said the junior from Longwood, Fla. “When you go to college to play baseball, you hope that you can make it to Omaha at least once. Coming back here for the third straight year is just … unbelievable.”

Matt Campbell, USC’s starting pitcher on Saturday in the opener against Cal-State Fullerton, likewise is making his third consecutive appearance at the College World Series. “I remember that first year, seeing the words “College World Series” painted behind the home plate area and thinking that this was the ultimate,” said Campbell. “It was a great feeling then and it may even be a greater feeling now. You come out here with the goal of winning the national championship and that’s what our goal is this year.”

USC’s team will have Friday morning off. The Gamecocks are scheduled to practice at 1:30 p.m. (local time) at Belleview East High School in Omaha. Stay tuned for another Post Card from Omaha later on Friday.