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March 23, 2006

Columbia, S.C. – For the second time this season, Sarge Frye Field will be the site for a Top 10 showdown in college baseball. Seventh ranked South Carolina (19-3, 2-1 SEC) and ninth ranked Florida (17-8, 2-1 SEC) meet this weekend in Columbia beginning Friday night (March 24) at 7 pm. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 4 pm with Sunday’s game televised on Sun Sports and set for a first pitch at 1:30 pm. Live audio and live stats are available at for all three contests. Live video feed will also be available in Friday’s opener. Mike Morgan and Tommy Moody will call the action on the Gamecock Radio Network including flagship stations 103.1 FM (WOMG) and 1320 AM (WISW) in Columbia.


South Carolina: Arik Hempy, LHP, Jr. (1-1, 3.27 ERA, 22 IP, 31 K, 8 BB)
Florida: Bryan Ball, RHP, Sr. (4-2, 3.72 ERA, 36.1 IP, 29 K, 8 BB)

South Carolina: Mike Cisco, RHP, Fr. (2-0, 1.29 ERA, 21 IP, 22 K, 4 BB)
Florida: Bryan Augenstein, RHP, So. (5-1, 1.49 ERA, 48.1 IP, 45 K, 3 BB)

South Carolina: Forrest Beverly, LHP, Jr. (4-1, 4.15 ERA, 30.1 IP, 28 K, 3 BB)
Florida: TBA

South Carolina leads the series history 25-21 and has won the last three series played at Sarge Frye Field (2000, 2002, 2004). Florida won last year’s series in Gainesville (2005) winning two out of three games against the Gamecocks. This series marks Carolina’s first SEC series at home this season.

South Carolina went 2-0 in midweek games this week with a pair of wins against in-state schools. USC defeated Charleston Southern 6-3 on Tuesday night (March 21) and earned a 11-3 win over Furman on Wednesday (March 22). Carolina owns a 17-2 record against non-conference opponents.

South Carolina is No. 7 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25 as well as the Collegiate Baseball Top 30. Carolina also moved up to No. 8 in the ESPN/Sports Weekly coaches poll and is No. 7 in the NCBWA Top 30.

Carolina freshman RHP Mike Cisco turned in the Gamecocks’ top performance on the mound this past weekend hurling a career-high 7.1 innings in Saturday’s win over the Tigers. Cisco didn’t allow a run until the fifth inning and saw his scoreless inning streak end at 17.2 innings. He had a career-high eight strikeouts also in the victory. He is 2-0 on the year with a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings pitched with 22 strikeouts and just four walks. Opponents are battling only .132 against him this year. Cisco is the scheduled starter for Carolina on Saturday.

Sophomore RHP Wynn Pelzer also came on strong for the Gamecocks out of the bullpen in Friday’s win over Auburn. In relief, Pelzer did not allow a hit in three innings of work and struck out six batters to earn the victory. Pelzer joined five other USC pitchers in tying a USC single-game record for strikeouts with 18 vs. Auburn on Friday night.

Pelzer earned his first career save on Tuesday night in the win over the Bucs. He is 1-0 on the year with a 2.20 ERA and 22 strikeouts and six walks allowed in 16.1 innings pitched.

Sophomore RHP Harris Honeycutt earned his third straight win in Wednesday’s 11-3 win over Furman. Honeycutt pitched a career-high six innings in the victory. Honeycutt is now 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA and has 21 strikeouts and seven walks in 16.1 innings pitched.

The South Carolina pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.55 and an SEC-high 223 strikeouts to 59 walks in 201 innings pitched. Teams are batting .199 against the Gamecock pitching staff this season, also leading the conference.

Senior INF Neil Giesler continues to swing a hot bat as he extended his hitting streak to 14 games with two base hits vs. Furman. The 14-game hitting streak ties his career-high that he set last year. Giesler leads the SEC batting .480 this year (36-for-75). In 12 of 19 games played for Giesler, he has had a multi-hit game.

Senior INF Chris Brown has been productive offensively over the last two weeks, as he has raised his season batting average to .383 (23-for-6) with a team-high 23 runs scored. Brown went 2-for-3 with two runs and a season-high three RBI in the win over Furman on Wednesday night.

Brown had a stellar week at the plate last week as well as he went .526 (10-for-19) in five games with five RBI and seven runs scored. Brown was 4-for-5, tying his career-high in hits in the 7-3 win vs. the Tigers. He also had three hits in Friday’s victory. After one week of SEC action, Brown leads the conference in SEC games with hits (7) and runs scored (5) and batting average (.583).

USC pounded out 31 combined hits in the wins over Auburn on Friday and Saturday.The 17 hit total in Friday’s win was the highest hit total for Carolina in a game this year. Brown had three hits and four runs in the Friday win with Trent Kline going 3-for-3 with two RBI and Michael Campbell finishing 3-for-6 with two RBI as well.

South Carolina has raised the team batting average to .304 (231-for-759) with 42 doubles, three triples and 24 home runs to go along with 146 RBI.

Also contributing at the plate for Carolina is junior DH Robbie Grinestaff. Grinestaff tied a USC single-game record with four walks vs. William & Mary and went 5-for-10 with three RBI in the weekend series vs. Quinnipiac. On the year, Grinestaff is batting .266 (21-for-79) with five HR and 24 RBI. His home run total is among the SEC leaders as is his on-base percentage (.414).

Before coming to Carolina, both Neil Giesler and Robbie Grinestaff were teammates in 2004 at Okaloosa-Walton JC in Florida. Giesler is in his second year with the Gamecocks with Grinestaff in his first season as a member of the garnet & black.

Freshman 1B Justin Smoak hit .308 (4-for-13) against Quinnipiac including a HR and four RBI. He saw his nine-game hitting streak end vs. Furman but on the year is still batting .280 (23-for-82) with three HR and 17 RBI.

The Carolina newcomer had his best weekend at the plate of his young career vs. Duquesne. Smoak went 3-for-3 with two doubles, one homer and five RBI in the 12-4 win. He became the first USC player this season to have multiple doubles in a game and tied a USC individual high on the year with four runs scored and five RBI in the victory. Smoak had reached base seven consecutive times heading into the Clemson series with five hits and two walks.

Senior catcher Ian Paxton had a career-high three hits including his second HR of the year in Sunday’s win over Quinnipiac. Paxton has started five games behind the plate and played in 10 overall with a .412 batting average (7-for-17).

Junior LHP Arik Hempy earned his first win of the year in a 10-4 win over Quinnipiac two weeks ago. Hempy went 5.2 innings allowing four runs on four this with nine strikeouts, his second highest career total. Hempy is 1-1 on the year with a 3.27 ERA to go along with 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 22 innings pitched.

Junior LHP Forrest Beverly is 4-1 this year and has made starts in all six Sunday games this season. In his last win, Beverly limited Quinnipiac to one run on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks in six innings pitched. Beverly has hurled a team-high 30.1 innings and struck out 28 batters with only three walks and 29 hits allowed.

Senior RHP Shawn Valdes-Fauli made his team-high ninth appearance in Wednesday’s win over Furman. He pitched 0.2 perfect innings in the victory. Valdes-Fauli has 9.2 innings of relief for Carolina this year and has allowed just two runs on five hits. He is 1-0 on the year with three saves out of the bullpen.

Sophomore RHP Andrew Cruse continued his success on the mound with an appearance at Auburn this past weekend. Cruse worked three innings and allowed just one run in the 12-8 victory over the Tigers. Cruse is 2-0 this year with a 0.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts and four walks allowed in 18.2 innings.

He was the SEC Pitcher of the Week following his performance vs. Clemson. It marked Cruse’s longest outing of his career at USC with 5.2 scoreless innings of relief. He also struck out a career-high seven batters and yielded just one walk and three hits.

Drew Martin, a junior at Carolina, has been a strong pinch hitter in the early going for head coach Ray Tanner. Martin has been batting .444 (8-for-18) off the bench for USC in nine games with two HR and 10 RBI. He hit his first career HR in a win over Quinnipiac and had a grand slam HR in the 6-3 win over Charleston Southern.

Senior OF Michael Campbell continues to move up the charts on USC Career Lists. Campbell moved past Trey Dyson (1999-2002) into fourth place on the games played list. Campbell has played 222 games with the garnet and black and made 201 consecutive starts.

In addition, his assist from the outfield in the win over Clemson set a new Carolina school record for assists by an outfielder with 21 in his career. Campbell bests the previous record of 20 set by Paul Hollins (1978-81). Campbell has two assists from the outfield this year.

Campbell is the most experienced player in Division I baseball with 222 games under his belt as well as 215 starts. Campbell is the leading returner for Carolina in several offensive categories including batting average (.315), games played (64), at-bats (251), runs (56), hits (79), doubles (16), triples (5), home runs (8), runs batted in (42), slugging percentage (.514), hit by pitch (10) and stolen bases (8).

TRACKING Michael CampbellGames Played1.  251 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-042.  236 Mac White   1991-92-93-943.  223 Jeff Parnell    1990-91-92-934.  222 Michael Campbell   2003-04-05-06
At Bats1. 903 Mac White 1991-92-93-942. 866 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-043. 864 Drew Meyer 2000-01-024. 817 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06
Hits (200 or more)1. 303 Mac White 1991-92-93-942. 285 Drew Meyer 2000-01-023. 265 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-044. 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-985. 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-986. 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-757. 243 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06
One Base Hits1. 209 Drew Meyer 2000-01-022. 198 Mac White 1991-92-93-943. 172 Greg Jonson 1977-78-79-804. 171 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-985. 165 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-926. 162 Mike Curry 1996-97-987. 161 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06
Three Base Hits1. 12 Mac White 1991-92-93-941. 12 Bill Harley 1930-31-323. 11 Mike Curry 1996-97-984. 10 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06

Carolina has been stellar defensively with two consecutive error-less games vs. Charleston Southern and Furman. The Gamecocks are fielding an SEC-best .982 with 11 error-less games. USC has 603 putouts, 204 assists and just 15 errors with the defense also turning 25 double plays.


On whether this weekend’s series with Florida is an early test to see who is the best team in the SEC East:

“Well, there’s a long way to go yet. Last weekend was a big test for us with our first SEC series, and it was on the road. I thought we did pretty well, and now we’re at home against the Gators who were in the National Championship Series last year. Both of us are ranked in the Top 10 now, and I know how good they are so we’ll have to be at our best.”

On his comfort level with the way last weekend’s series at Auburn went:

“I’m pleased with where we are, but am I satisfied? Absolutely not. But going on the road with a young team and with some young guys at key positions, I was concerned. We did all right. We didn’t win all three games, but we played pretty well for most of the weekend, and hopefully we’re ready for this weekend against Florida.”

On whether this weekend’s series has any implications for the rest of the season:

“I think you can build a little momentum if you have a good series. We’re at home, and I’m hoping we can have a great weekend. We’ve played better since the beginning of the year, and I have confidence that we’ll be better at the end of the year than we are now. But you still have to win as you go, and that’s very difficult against a team like Florida who has a lot of players back from a team that went to the National Championship a year ago.”

On whether a big series like this gets him more excited than others:

“This is what it’s all about. I love the competition, and I love SEC baseball. You’ve got two teams ranked in the Top 10, and this is tremendous. This is what guys signed up for when they decided to play in college. Their guys are excited about it, our guys are excited about it, and I wish every single weekend would be like this.”