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Feb. 24, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – Fifth ranked South Carolina (6-0) returns to action on Friday afternoon as the Gamecocks host Niagara University (0-3) in a three-game series at Sarge Frye Field. First pitch for Friday’s game is 3 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday starting at 1:30 p.m. Live Gametracker stats will be available for all three contests.

The pitching rotation for the weekend is listed below.

South Carolina: Aaron Rawl (2-0, 0.69 ERA) Sr. RHP
Niagara: James Avery (0-0, 5.40 ERA) Jr. RHP

South Carolina: Zac McCamie (2-0, 0.82 ERA) Sr. RHP
Niagara: Daniel Griffin (0-0, 4.05 ERA) So. RHP

South Carolina: Conor Lalor (0-0, 0.00 ERA) So. RHP
Niagara: Josh Sawatzky (0-1, 4.50 ERA) So. RHP

South Carolina and Niagara are meeting in baseball for the first time. Niagara, located at Niagara Falls, N. Y., is a member of the Metro Atlantic Conference. The Purple Eagles finished second in the conference last year and had an overall record of 27-27. Head Coach Chris Chernisky is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute and is in his first season at Niagara.

Niagara is the third three game series in a 10 game, season opening home stand for the Gamecocks. South Carolina swept three game series with Longwood and Radford and the home stand concludes with a single game Wednesday (March 2) against Wofford. The Wofford game will be Carolina’s first scheduled night game with a 7 o’clock start. Next weekend the Gamecocks will be in Minneapolis, Minn., for the Dairy Queen Classic. The classic will be played in the Minnesota Twins domed stadium. Opponents will be Pepperdine on Friday, Minnesota Saturday and New Orleans on Sunday.

South Carolina moved up to fifth this week in all three of the major baseball polls. The Gamecocks last week were seventh in the rankings by Baseball America and Sports Weekly/ESPN. They were eighth in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

Junior shortstop Steven Tolleson has begun the 2005 season with a six game hitting streak. Tolleson begins the Niagara series with a .538 batting average, 14 hits in 26 at bats. Hitting in the number three spot in the batting order he has three doubles, two triples, one home run and has driven in 13 runs

Junior center fielder Michael Campbell had multiple hits in each of the first five games. He was hitless in two official at bats in game six but scored two runs. Campbell is batting .524 with 11 hits in 24 at bats.

The first grand slam home run of the season and the first multiple home run game came off the bat of senior right fielder Brendan Winn. Winn hit a bases loaded first inning home run and a bases empty sixth inning homer in the Sunday 7-4 win over Radford. All four of his hits in the first six games were for extra bases. He has three home runs and a double and has driven in nine.

South Carolina senior right-hander Aaron Rawl was honored for the period that ended Feb. 13 as the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week for his performance in the season opening game. Rawl threw only 80 pitches in seven innings and earned his 27th career win in a 5-1 victory over Longwood. He allowed four hits, one earned run, no walks and struck out five. In his second start, Feb. 18 against Radford Rawl pitched six shutout innings to earn his second win.

South Carolina’s staff pitched 21 innings in the season opening series before walking a batter. Aaron Rawl and Conor Lalor combined to issue no bases on balls in the opening 5-1 victory over Longwood. In the second game, a 4-1 win, Zac McCamie, Andrew Cruse and Brent Marsh didn’t walk anyone. In the 13-3 Sunday victory, Forrest Beverly didn’t walk anyone the first three innings but the first batter in the fourth inning walked on a three and two count. Longwood wound up with four walks on Sunday. Through six games – 54 innings – South Carolina has used 13 pitchers. They have combined to strike out 56 batters and have walked only 11.

Ray Tanner is in his ninth season at South Carolina and his 18th as a collegiate head coach. His record with the Gamecocks is 378-152, a winning percentage of .713.Tanner’s overall record is 773-325-3, a winning percentage of .703. 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 entered the 2005 season with a new pitching coach. Mark Calvi joined the Gamecock staff after 11 seasons as pitching coach at Florida International University. Calvi replaced Jerry Meyers who was named head coach at Old Dominion University after eight seasons as a member of the South Carolina staff. Calvi is a 1986 graduate of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Jim Toman began his ninth season on head coach Ray Tanner’s staff with a new title. Toman was promoted last August to associate head coach. He came to South Carolina in 1997 from N. C. State where he served on the staff under Tanner for five years. Toman is a 1985 graduate of N. C. State where he was a catcher on the baseball team. He earned a master’s degree from N. C. State in 1995.

South Carolina assistant baseball coach Monte Lee last September was inducted as an inaugural member of the College of Charleston Wall of Fame at Patriot’s Point Stadium. Lee was a star outfielder at the College of Charleston for four seasons (1996-99). He is in his third season on Coach Ray Tanner’s Gamecock staff and works with outfielders and hitters in addition to coaching first base.

South Carolina won more games over the past five seasons than any other NCAA Division I baseball team. Since 2000 the Gamecocks entered the 2005 season with 260 wins to 259 for Florida State, 247 for Texas, 246 for Rice and 245 for Stanford. Over the five-year period South Carolina compiled a 260-87 record, a winning percentage of .749. Against Southeastern Conference opponents the record for the same period was 99-50, a percentage of .664.

Two seniors and a junior are serving 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.

Five position starters return from the 2004 season. Senior Steve Pearce switched from first to third base. He played 50 games at first base last year but did appear in 21 games at third. The outfield from 2004 is intact. Michael Campbell has switched to center field with Davy Gregg moving from center to left. Brendan Winn remains in right field. Steven Tolleson returns as the everyday shortstop. Tommy King started 24 games last year, most of them at second place when Kevin Melillo was injured. Ryan Mahoney had 34 starts in 2004, 33 of them as the designated hitter and one as catcher.

Ten returning players had a composite .307 batting average (451-1470) in 2004 with 67 home runs and 273 runs batted in. The five regular starters had 391 hits in 1218 at bats for a composite .321 average including 58 home runs and 242 RBI. Steve Pearce was .346-21-70 to win the triple crown. Davy Gregg was .325-0-26; Steven Tolleson was .316-4-25; Michael Campbell .312-14-52; and Brendan Winn .305-19-69.

Six returning pitchers represent 60 per cent of the 53 victories recorded by South Carolina in 2004. The six combined to work 346 innings with a 3.67 earned run average and a composite record of 32-6. Aaron Rawl led the team with a 13-4 record in 122 innings. Zac McCamie had a perfect 7-0 record in 58 innings. Jason Fletcher worked 55 2/3 innings and was 6-1. Arik Hempy was 3-1 in 52 2/3 innings, Cliff Donald 2-0 in 40 2/3 innings, and Harris Honeycutt pitched 17 1/3 innings with a 1-0 record. Five of the six are right-handers with Hempy the only southpaw.

With victories in his first two 2005 starts Aaron Rawl has moved into 9th place for most South Carolina pitching wins in a career. His total stands at 28-9. Rawl also has eight career saves. He had a 7-2 record as a freshman, was 6-3 his sophomore season and was 13-4 as a junior. Eighth place on the career win list is held by Mike Cook who was 30-8, 1983-85.

More than half the 56 games on South Carolina’s 2005 baseball schedule are against teams that qualified for the 2004 NCAA championship tournament. The Gamecocks are scheduled to play 29 games, 52 per cent of the schedule, against 11 teams that advanced to the NCAA post season last year. The schedule includes three game series against Southeastern Conference opponents Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Mississippi. The Gamecocks will meet Clemson four times, The Citadel twice, and will play single games in the Dairy Queen Classic at Minneapolis against Pepperdine and defending Big Ten champion Minnesota. Three SEC opponents – Arkansas, Georgia and LSU – along with South Carolina advanced to the 2004 College World Series.

2,000 WINS
South Carolina surpassed 2,000 all time wins during 2004 post-season play. Gamecock baseball dates back 113 years to 1892. South Carolina recorded its 2,000th victory June 21, 2004 in the College World Series with a 15-4 win over fellow Southeastern Conference member Louisiana State. Carolina added CWS wins over Miami (Fla.) and eventual national champion Cal State Fullerton. The Gamecocks began the 2005 season with an all time record of 2,002-1,212-17.

Three members of the 2005 Gamecock roster are among the top 100 prospects in the Early Draft Preview compiled by Baseball America. The publication lists junior outfielder Michael Campbell 60th on the projected draft list. Senior third baseman Steve Pearce, who is projected as a future pro catcher, is 64th. Junior shortstop Steven Tolleson is 86th.