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April 5, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (24-6, 5-4 SEC) returns to SEC action this weekend with a three-game set at Florida (19-13, 7-2 SEC). First pitch on Friday is set for 7:30 pm; Saturday’s game is scheduled for 4 pm with the Sunday series finale at 1 pm. Sunday’s game will be televised live on ESPN with Mike Gleason and Kyle Peterson on the telecast. All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Mike Morgan and Tom Price on the call. The Gamecocks rank as high as fourth in the nation with the Gators currently 22nd in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 and riding an eight-game winning streak.

Carolina swept the weekend series between the two schools in Columbia last year with victories of 4-1, 6-5 and 21-4. The 17-run victory over the Gators in the Sunday contest is tied for the second largest margin of victory against an SEC team for the Gamecocks in school history. (The largest is a 21-1 win over Vanderbilt on April 18, 1992) The Gamecocks lead the all-time series with Florida, 28-21, and have won six of the last seven series (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006).


SC Harris Honeycutt (Jr.) RHP 6-0, 1.62 ERA, 44.1 IP, 50 K, 13 BB
FLA Bryan Augenstein (Jr.) RHP 3-3, 4.72 ERA, 55.1 IP, 54 K, 17 BB

SC Blake Cooper (Fr.) RHP 4-0, 1.40 ERA, 25.2 IP, 21 K, 5 BB
FLA Tony Davis (Fr.) LHP 2-0, 0.87 ERA, 10.1 IP, 7 K, 2 BB

SC Cooper or TBA
FLA Billy Bullock (Fr.) RHP 2-3, 4.66 ERA, 36.2 IP, 22 K, 12 BB

Arik Hempy pitched five scoreless innings and behind a five-run sixth inning South Carolina defeated Furman 10-0 on Wednesday evening at Sarge Frye Field. Wednesday’s game marked the fifth shutout of the year for Carolina and the 11th time this season that USC has scored at least 10 runs.

Hempy had his longest stint of the year and limited the Paladins to just two hits while striking out a season-high five batters and walking just two. He threw 77 pitches on the evening. Hempy is now 2-0 on the year. Four different Gamecock players drove in two runs in the contest (Harley Lail, Trent Kline, Travis Jones, Reese Havens).

Sunday’s win vs. Vanderbilt featured a quality performance on the mound from freshman RHP Blake Cooper. Cooper worked a career-high 7.2 innings and allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out four batters. It was the longest stint by a Carolina pitcher this year as well. Cooper did not allow a run against the third ranked Commodores until the eighth inning.

Cooper has won three of four starts in the last weeks and is 4-0 on the year with a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings of work with just 20 hits allowed and 21 strikeouts to just five walks.

Sunday’s win against Vanderblt also featured home runs from both James Darnell and Phil Disher. Darnell went 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI in Sunday’s victory. Darnell is batting .354 this season (34-for-97) with eight HR and 30 RBI. Disher finished 3-for-4 and tied a career-high with four RBI in Sunday’s game. His average rose to .356 and owns seven HR and 28 RBI on the season.

Sophomore first baseman Justin Smoak extended his hitting streak to 11 games on Wednesday night. That is the longest streak of the season for a Gamecock player. Smoak is among the leading hitters on his team with a .356 batting average as well as nine HR and 39 RBI. The nine home runs and 39 RBI are among the leaders in the SEC.

The South Carolina bats have been strong over the last two weeks with at least 10 hits in 10 of the last 11 games as well as 17 home runs in that span. The team is currently batting .313 on the year (34-for-1085) with 46 home runs as well.

Carolina’s pitching staff continues to be among the best in the nation with a 2.60 ERA and a 24-6 record. Wednesday’s win marked the team’s fifth shutout of the year. Carolina pitchers have logged 276.2 innings and own 300 strikeouts to just 89 walks and teams are batting just .221 in those games. South Carolina has lost just six games with five of those losses coming by one run and three in extra innings.

Junior right-handed pitcher Harris Honeycutt performed well in Friday night’s game vs. Vanderbilt despite a no-decision. Honeycutt allowed just three runs, two earned, on six hits in 6.1 innings of work. In seven appearances, Honeycutt is 6-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 44.1 innings of work with 50 strikeouts to just 13 walks.

The junior right-hander is 14-0 in his career with the Gamecocks.

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

The Gamecocks have played well at home at Sarge Frye Field with a 14-3 record. and have drawn incredible crowds with 80,457 fans this season for an average of 5,028 per game. The three-game series vs. Vanderbilt featured weekend attendance of 6,039, 5,569 and 5,521 for a total of 17,129 fans.

Sarge Frye Field has been a tough spot for opponents over the last seven years as the Gamecocks have racked up a 232-50 record (.823) in that timespan.

South Carolina sits at fourth in the nation in the ESPN/Sports Weekly coaches’ poll and fifth in both the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball rankings released on Monday afternoon.

The Gamecock bullpen has come up big in the first half of the year for the Gamecocks with several pitchers providing important relief in the later innings. The bullpen’s ERA heading into this weekend is 1.88 in 124.1 innings of work, 155 strikeouts in that span.

Junior RHP Wynn Pelzer is 1-1 with a save in 12 appearances and owns a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 26 batters to just five walks allowed.

Sophomore LHP Alex Farotto has been productive in the last few weeks and showcased an impressive relief performance at Mississippi State two weeks ago, where he struck out seven of eight batters he faced to close out the game, a career-high. Farotto is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in seven appearances and 12 innings with 23 strikeouts to two walks.

Senior RHP Jeff Jeffords had a big decision in Sunday’s game at Mississippi State in middle relief and delivered in 3.2 innings of work allowing just one run in the 8-3 win. His six strikeouts in the game also tied a career-high. Jeffords is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in nine appearances with 21 strikeouts in 13.0 innings of work.

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. Johnson leads the team with 14 appearances with Atwood right behind him at 13 on the year. Atwood is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings and has 25 strikeouts with just five walks. Johnson has pitched 16.1 innings with teams batting just .167 against him. He has recorded 23 strikeouts on the year.

Junior catcher Trent Kline continues to own the highest batting average on the team at a .384 clip (43-for-112) including a team-high 11 doubles, four HR and 24 RBI as well as 14 multi-hit games. He also leads the team with a .421 batting average in SEC contests.

In a 9-5 win over the LSU Tigers, Kline went 4-for-5 performance at the plate. 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. Kline batted 8-for-13 in the series vs. LSU.

Junior outfielder Harley Lail has been impressive in the last month since taking over leadoff duties for the Gamecocks. He had a two-hit performance in Wednesday’s win over Furman. Lail is batting .333 on the year with an on-base percentage of .449 as well as five stolen bases. He has the hot bat with four doubles, three homers and 15 RBI in 18 starts for the Gamecocks.

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 with three scoreless innings of work vs. the Terriers. He is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in four games with 12.2 innings of work and 14 strikeouts.

South Carolina continues to boast one of the top defensive teams in all of college baseball as the Gamecocks sit second in the SEC in fielding percentage, 30 games into the season. After setting a school record for fielding last year, the Gamecocks are off to another solid start defensively with a .978 percentage and just 25 errors and nine error-less contests.