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Feb. 8, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina baseball team officially kicks off the 2005 season with a three-game series against the Longwood Lancers this weekend, Feb. 11-13. First pitch of Friday’s opener is set for 3 p.m. Game two is on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and the series finale starts at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. All three games will be played at Sarge Frye Field on the South Carolina campus.

Head coach Ray Tanner’s Gamecocks will be looking for their sixth straight victory in a season-opener on Friday. The Gamecocks defeated Charleston Southern, 3-2, on opening day in 2004.

The Gamecocks compiled a 53-17 record,captured the SEC Tournament title and played in their third-straight College World Series in 2004.

South Carolina has never before met Longwood on the baseball diamond. Longwood is moving up to NCAA Division I this season and will play 51 of its scheduled 56 games against Division I opponents. The Lancers opened with a five game series at Division II Hawaii Pacific in Honolulu last weekend and came away with a 1-4 record. The Lancers lost the season opener, 2-1, but battled back to win game two, 7-3. Longwood dropped the next three games (9-2, 6-3, 15-2).

The Gamecocks will be the first Division I opponent on a 2005 Longwood schedule that includes such established programs as James Madison, Old Dominion (Coached by former South Carolina assistant Jerry Meyers), Virginia Commonwealth, William & Mary, Indiana, Princeton, Maryland and The Citadel. In Longwood’s final season in Division II the Lancers compiled a 31-16 record with a .366 team batting average under Coach Charles “Buddy” Bolding who is beginning his 27th season at the Farmville, Va., school.

The Gamecocks appear in all four college baseball polls this week. South Carolina is No. 7, according to Baseball America, and No. 8 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll. In the Baseball Weekly/ESPN Poll, Carolina is No. 6. According to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the Gamecocks are No. 7.

South Carolina baseball has become one of the hottest tickets in town. More than 3,300 season tickets were sold for 2005, up from just over 2,800 in 2004.

The first 10 games of Carolina’s 56 game regular season are scheduled for Sarge Frye Field. After the Longwood series the Gamecocks entertain Radford for three games next weekend followed by a three game series with Niagara Feb. 25-27. The home stand ends with the first night game of the season, March 2 against Wofford. South Carolina’s first road trip will be to Minneapolis for the Dairy Queen Classic March 4-6.

Ray Tanner is beginning his ninth season at South Carolina and his 18th as a collegiate head coach. His record with the Gamecocks is 372-152, a winning percentage of .710.Tanner’s overall record is 767-325-3, a winning percentage of .702. In nine seasons at N. C. State his record was 395-173-3. Tanner won his 350th game at South Carolina April 30, 2004 in the first game of a series with Mississippi.

South Carolina has won more games over the past five seasons than any other NCAA Division I baseball team. Since 2000 the Gamecocks have 260 wins to 259 for Florida State, 247 for Texas, 246 for Rice and 245 for Stanford. Over the five-year period South Carolina has compiled a 260-87 record, a winning percentage of .749. Against Southeastern Conference opponents the record for the same period is 99-50, a percentage of .664.

Two seniors and a junior will serve as captains of the 2005 South Carolina baseball squad. Right-handed pitcher Aaron Rawl, right fielder Brendan Winn and shortstop Steven Tolleson are the Gamecock captains. Rawl and Winn are seniors. Tolleson is a junior.