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March 22, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (19-3, 2-1 SEC) returns to action this weekend with a three-game series at Mississippi State (13-4, 2-1 SEC). All three games will be televised by Sport South (Columbia – Time Warner Cable – channel 21) with Dave Neal and Larry Conley calling the action. First pitch on Friday is set for 7:30 pm ET, Saturday’s game is at 4 pm ET and Sunday’s finale is a 2:30 pm ET start. The games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and with Mike Morgan and Tom Price calling the action.

The series with Mississippi State has been an exciting one with the Gamecocks holding a 22-21 edge in games played with the Bulldogs. Carolina took the series two games to one last season in exciting fashion coming back from a three-run deficit in the bottom of the 11th inning to defeat MSU 9-7 on a pair of home runs from Jon Willard and Michael Campbell. The two schools have not met in Starkville since the 2002 season, when Carolina won two of three games as well.


SC Harris Honeycutt (Jr.) RHP 5-0, 0.86 ERA, 31.1 IP, 35 K, 11 BB
MSU Aaron Weatherford (So.) RHP 3-0, 3.42 ERA, 26.1 IP, 31 K, 8 BB

SC Mike Cisco (So.) RHP 2-1, 3.13 ERA, 37.1 IP, 31 K, 4 BB
MSU Justin Pigott (Jr.) LHP 2-2, 5.52 ERA, 29.1 IP, 21 K, 5 BB

SC Blake Cooper (Fr.) RHP 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 15.0 IP, 14 K, 3 BB
MSU Josh Johnson (Sr.) RHP 2-0, 6.75 ERA, 20.0 IP, 25 K, 6 BB

South Carolina won a pair of midweek games this week with a 9-2 win at home vs. UNC Asheville on Tuesday and a 13-1 win on the road at Wofford on Wednesday night. The Carolina offense was strong pounding out a combined 26 hits along with six different players hitting home runs to lead the Gamecock attack. The pitching staff also held its own limiting the opponents to 14 hits in two games and striking out 29 batters in two games.

Be sure to get to your Easter Brunch and get back in time to watch the Gamecocks play. ESPN will broadcast the South Carolina/Florida baseball game from Gainesville, Fla. on Sunday, April 8. First pitch is at 1 pm.

The Gamecocks finished their longest homestand of the season, nine games, with Tuesday’s game vs. UNC Asheville. The Gamecocks have played well at home at Sarge Frye Field with a 12-1 record.

Sarge Frye Field has been a tough spot for opponents over the last seven years as the Gamecocks have racked up a 229-48 record (.827) in that timespan. The crowds have been incredible for the Gamecocks as well, with USC averaging 4,829 fans in 11 dates (one doubleheader).

The Gamecock pitching staff has delivered in the early going with the staff posting a team ERA of 2.26 in 199.1 innings of work. That 2.26 ERA is the best in the SEC. The staff has 217 strikeouts to just 64 walks and allowed just 148 hits and opponents only batting .206 on the year.

After sitting out last week with a strained bicep in his right arm, junior right-handed pitcher Harris Honeycutt was stellar returning to the mound with a strong performance vs. LSU on Friday night.

With seven shutout innings in the 5-0 win, Honeycutt extended his scoreless inning streak to 21 innings. He allowed just three hits and walked only two batters while tying a season-high with nine strikeouts. Honeycutt is now 5-0 on the year with a 0.86 ERA in 31.1 innings as well as 35 strikeouts and has combined or three shutouts in his five starts made this year. The junior right-hander is now 13-0 in his career with the Gamecocks.

Harris Honeycutt was named SEC Pitcher of the Week following his performance in the 12-0 win at Clemson. Against second ranked and in-state rival Clemson, Honeycutt delivered with a top performance on the mound limiting the Tigers to just two hits in seven innings of work. He combined with three other players for the first shutout of the Tigers since 1986 and the first Gamecock shutout at Doug Kingsmore Stadium since 1974. Honeycutt struck out seven batters in the win, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and allowed just one Clemson player to reach third base. Honeycutt’s honor marks the second time a Carolina player has been honored by the SEC office this season.

Freshman right-hander Blake Cooper has been productive in his first two career starts for Carolina. Last Sunday in the 9-5 win over LSU, Cooper worked 5.2 scoreless innings of work allowing just two hits while striking out four batters. The week before, Cooper allowed just one run, unearned and struck out six batters in five innings to pick up his first career win in the 13-1 victory over Brown. Cooper is 3-0 in six appearances this year and has a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings with 14 strikeouts and just three walks.

Sunday’s 9-5 win vs. the Tigers featured a 4-for-5 performance from Trent Kline. Kline set a career-high with his four hits and also tied career marks in runs (3) and RBI (4) as he tallied two doubles, a single and a homer in the victory. The junior catcher leads the Gamecocks with a .385 batting average (30-for-78) and has 20 runs scored, a team-high eight doubles, three homers and 22 RBI on the year. Kline batted 8-for-13 in the series vs. LSU (three doubles, homer, five RBI) and 12-for-20 (.600) vs. App State and LSU. He also leads the team with 10 multi-hit games on the year.

Junior outfielder Harley Lail has been impressive in the last two weeks since taking over leadoff duties for the Gamecocks. Lail homered in Friday’s 5-0 win over LSU and is batting .385 on the year (15-for-39) with three doubles, three homers and 10 RBI in 10 starts for the Gamecocks.

Sophomore right-hander Mike Cisco has put together six quality starts to open the season and leads the team with 37.1 innings pitched. He has reached at least six innings in all six starts made this year. In the 11-2 win over Brown, he pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits while striking out eight batters. Cisco is 2-1 this season. He picked up his first win of year in a 5-1 win over Eastern Michigan. In that start he also worked 6.2 innings and allowed just one run on five hits while striking out nine batters. Cisco owns a 3.13 ERA with 31 strikeouts on the year.

It was another great Sarge Frye Field moment vs. Brown on Sunday, Mar. 11 when junior left-hander Arik Hempy made his 2007 debut for the Gamecocks. Following a standing ovation, Hempy had a solid first appearance with 2.2 innings of work and allowing just one run on three hits while striking out four batters. The game against Brown was Hempy’s first since undergoing Tommy John surgery in early April of 2006. Hempy had made seven starts last season and was 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 34 innings before going down with the injury to his arm on March 31 at LSU. Hempy received a medical redshirt due to the injury.

Hempy earned his first win of the season at Wofford on Wednesday night with three scoreless innings of work vs. the Terriers.

Sophomore first baseman Justin Smoak produced in both midweek games this week with five hits in the two contests along with a home run on Tuesday vs. UNC Asheville.

A preseason All-American selection, Smoak’s season batting average is .322 and he leads the team with seven homers and also 28 RBI. His slugging percentage is .632.

South Carolina sits at No. 3 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25, Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches’ poll and NCBWA Top 30 and has been ranked No. 5 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 40.

Senior first baseman Drew Martin had a solid final two games of the Brown series. In Saturday’s 11-2 win over Brown, Martin started at DH and went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and a RBI. Sunday’s 9-4 win featured a two-out bases loaded home run from Martin off the bench to break a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning.

In 11 games, he is batting .318 with three homers and seven RBI. Six of his seven hits this season are extra base hits (3 doubles, 3 homers).

The South Carolina bats continue to be productive with the team batting at a .303 clip with 36 homers in 22 games played. The team owns a .406 on-base percentage to go along with a .523 slugging percentage.

South Carolina continues to boast one of the top defensive teams in all of college baseball as the Gamecocks lead the SEC in fielding percentage, 22 games into the season. After setting a school record for fielding last year, the Gamecocks are off to another solid start defensively with a .982 percentage and just 15 errors and eight error-less contests.

Junior left-hander Will Atwood and junior right-hander Curtis Johnson have been a relief for the Gamecocks out of the bullpen to start the year. Atwood and Johnson lead the Gamecocks in apperances with 10 on the year. Atwood is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 21.2 innings and has 18 strikeouts with just two walks. Johnson has pitched 9.1 innings with teams batting just .069 against him. He has recorded 14 strikeouts on the year.

Captain Steven Reinhold has been a key ingredient to the Gamecocks success in the early season. Coming off the bench as a defensive replacement, Reinhold has played in 20 games, all at center field and has been a productive pinch hitter and pinch runner as well. This season he is 1-for-7 with four runs scored, has been hit by three pitches and owns a sacrifice bunt. The bunt helped the Gamecocks score the winning run in Sunday’s game vs. Clemson.

Sophomore infielder James Darnell has struck with a strong bat this year as he owns six homers in the first 22 games. He currently owns a .328 batting average and has 20 RBI. His three-run homer helped USC to a 12-0 win over Clemson and he set a career-high with four RBI as well.

Junior right-handed pitcher Jordan Costner has nine appearances on the year for Carolina and owns a 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings. He has allowed just seven hits this year.

Whether at the top or bottom of the order, junior second baseman Travis Jones has found his way on base in the early going for Carolina. Jones went 2-fo-4 with a triple and two runs scored in the 9-5 win over LSU. Jones is batting .278 with a .396 on-base percentage and has scored 16 runs in the first 22 games.

Sophomore Andrew Crisp tallied a career-high five hits including a game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning of a 9-8 win over UNC Wilmington. He homered and doubled as well in this past Tuesday’s win over Appalachian State. He is batting .311 this year with 11 RBI.