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March 22, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – Sixth ranked South Carolina (17-3, 1-2 SEC) returns to action on Wednesday night hosting Davidson (9-8, 1-5 SOCON) at 7 p.m. at Sarge Frye Field in non-conference action. Carolina’s scheduled starter is sophomore LHP Arik Hempy (0-0, 3.86 ERA) with Davidson sending senior RHP Justin Hartanov (2-2, 4.02 ERA) to the mound. Wednesday’s game also brings South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner and Davidson head coach Dick Cooke back onto the same field. Cooke served as an assistant coach for Coach Tanner on the 2003 USA National Team that earned a silver medal at the Pan American Games.

The South Carolina-Davidson baseball rivalry dates back more than a century to 1900. South Carolina leads the series 37-21-1. The Gamecocks and Wildcats met one time last year, a 10-1 Carolina win at Sarge Frye Field.

South Carolina dropped a few spots in the national polls after losing the first Southeastern Conference series to Arkansas two games to one, but the Gamecocks are still ranked among the top ten. South Carolina dropped from second to sixth in the Collegiate Baseball poll and from fourth to ninth in the Baseball America rankings. In the ESPN/Baseball Weekly poll the Gamecocks dropped from third to sixth. The Gamecocks began the week with a 17-3 record.

South Carolina travels to Gainesville for a three game Southeastern Conference series with the Florida Gators. The South Carolina-Florida rivalry began in 1919 but the Gators didn’t become an annual opponent until South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992. South Carolina leads the series 24-19. Game times this weekend are 6:30 p.m., Friday, 4 p.m., Saturday and 1 o’clock on Sunday. South Carolina won two of three games against Florida last year at Sarge Frye Field. The Gamecocks won 5-4 in 10 innings on Friday, lost the Saturday game 9-8, and came back to win again in extra innings Sunday, 7-6 in 10 innings. Freshman left-hander Arik Hempy was the winning pitcher out of the bullpen in both of the wins.

Right-handed pitcher Conor Lalor earned his first decision in nearly two years and remained undefeated as a Gamecock when South Carolina came from behind to defeat Wofford 6-2 March 15 at Spartanburg. Lalor allowed one hit, walked one and struck out one in 1 1/3 innings of relief. He missed the entire 2004 season as a medical redshirt while recovering from Tommy John surgery. As a freshman in 2003 Lalor compiled a 5-0 record.

South Carolina took a 2-0 lead in the scheduled four game series against Clemson with two victories March 12 at Clemson and March 13 in Columbia. The Gamecocks won the first 6-3 at Clemson’s Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and completed the sweep the next day with a three run eighth inning rally to win 6-5 at Sarge Frye Field. The rivals meet again April 13 at Clemson and April 20 at Columbia. Clemson leads the overall series, which dates back to 1899, 157-110-2. Coach Ray Tanner moved one game above .500 in his personal Carolina record against Clemson at 15-14.

Redshirt freshman Andrew Cruse improved his record to 3-0 with 2 1/3 innings of damage control relief in South Carolina’s come from behind 6-5 win over Clemson. After Clemson scored three times in the seventh inning to take a 5-3 lead, Cruse took over. He allowed two hits and a walk but no runs. However, he needed help from Closer Brent Marsh who came on to register the final out with two Clemson runners on base. March earned his fourth save. Carolina regained the lead with a three run eighth inning rally.

Senior right-hander Jason Fletcher earned his second save as a Gamecock at Clemson with 3 1/3 innings in relief of Aaron Rawl in the 6-3 win. Fletcher came to South Carolina last season from Indian River Junior College and posted a 6-1 record with one save. He already has two wins this season for an 8-1 career record. In the Sunday game against Arkansas Fletcher, in relief, retired the first 15 batters that he faced before giving up two ninth inning runs. In 16 innings Fletcher has a 1.69 earned run average. He has 14 strikeouts and has walked only one.