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June 20, 2004

Omaha, Neb. –

The South Carolina Gamecocks worked to bounce back on Sunday, after suffering a disappointing 2-0 opening day loss to Cal-State Fullerton on Saturday in the College World Series.

Sunday was Father’s Day and it was the first Father’s Day for Gamecock head coach Ray Tanner. Coach Tanner’s wife, Karen, and their 11-month year-old daughter, Grace, are in Omaha for the CWS. “It feels great to be a dad and to have my first Father’s Day at the College World Series,” said Coach Tanner.

Coach Tanner did a brief interview with ESPN Sunday morning about the legendary Sarge Frye, who for more than 50 years served the University of South Carolina, primarily in the area of fields and grounds. USC’s baseball stadium bears his name. Sarge passes away last September. “Sarge Frye is a legend around the University of South Carolina,” said Coach Tanner. “He always would come by practice and have an encouraging word for our team, especially when we may have been coming off of a tough game.”

The Gamecocks worked out for 90 minutes at Bellevue East High School in Omaha. The school’s has a very nice baseball facility. Athletics Director Mike McGee spoke to the team for a few minutes prior to the start of practice. Catcher Landon Powell said Dr. McGee’s message to the team was extremely well-received. “He reminded us of what got us here and that we needed to show some grit on Monday,” said Powell. “We always are encouraged by what he has to say to us.”

Batting practice seemed to go well on Sunday. Assistant coach Jerry Meyers also worked with a few of the pitchers. USC is expected to start a righthander Monday against LSU – either Aaron Rawl or Billy Buckner.

Speaking of Billy Buckner, he was the subject of an interview with a crew from ESPN’s Sports Center. The theme was playing off of Buckner’s name, which is the same as former major leaguer Bill Buckner, who had an outstanding career in the big leagues, but unfortunately, is best remembered for his error at first base in Game Six of the 1986 World Series which helped allow the New York Mets to go on and defeat the Boston Red Sox. “A lot of people kept asking me when I first came to Carolina if I was related to Bill Buckner, the major leaguer,” said USC’s Billy Buckner. “Obviously, I’m not. I’ve heard a lot of stories about Bill Buckner. He had a successful career in the big leagues, and hopefully, I can have the opportunity to play there, as well.” ESPN also interviewed Coach Tanner and Landon Powell for the piece, which is scheduled to air this Tuesday as part of the network’s coverage of the CWS.

First pitch on Monday against LSU is scheduled for 2 p.m. (eastern time). It’s an elimination game for both teams. Earlier in the season, LSU won two of three against the Gamecocks in a series in Columbia.