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April 12, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – Fourth ranked South Carolina (26-7, 7-5 SEC) returns to action this weekend hosting a three-game series vs. Auburn (24-12, 3- 9 SEC) at Sarge Frye Field. Friday’s game is set for 7 pm with Saturday’s contest at 5 pm and the Sunday series finale scheduled for 1:30 pm. All three games can be heard live on the Gamecock Radio Network and on Live video is also available for the games on Friday and Sunday. Carolina leads the all-time series history vs. Auburn 25-15 including a series win last year in Auburn when the Gamecocks took two of three games against the Tigers.


SC Harris Honeycutt, Jr. (RHP) 7-0, 1.43 ERA, 50.1 IP, 61 K, 16 BB
AU Paul Burnside, So. (RHP) 5-1, 3.08 ERA, 52.2 IP, 42 K, 16 BB

SC Arik Hempy, Jr. (LHP) 2-0, 2.84 ERA, 12.2 IP, 14 K, 6 BB
AU Taylor Thompson, Fr. (RHP) 4-0, 2.95 ERA, 39.2 IP, 34 K, 20 BB

AU Justin Bristow, So. (RHP) 1-3, 5.84 ERA, 24.2 IP, 19 K, 8 BB


Can you talk about the pitching rotation? Are you still TBA for Sunday?
“We are TBA (on Sunday). We’re leaning towards (Blake) Cooper. He’s pitched really well at Sarge Frye. He hasn’t pitched quite as well on the road, but it’s not a definite, but it is possible.”

How big of a start (Saturday) is this for [Arik] Hempy?
“I think it’s probably big to him because he’s getting back out there in an SEC game, but he’s had four rehab stints. I’m hoping that he feels good and he can be competitive. This is not a make or break situation for him. He’s a quality pitcher and I’m hoping that he’s really, really good. But it’s his first time out in an SEC situation so we’ll see what happens.”

Does the postponement of a big game like Clemson take away from a weekend series?
“I don’t think so. As far as baseball goes, you have rainouts from time to time, so it’ll be good for us. We have our legs under us a little bit. We’re not getting back at 1-1:30 in the morning this weekend. We have a couple of weeks ahead that are going to be rigorous, but I don’t think it’ll affect us.”

On the pitching staff
“I really believe that the reason we are where right now is because of our pitching staff and our depth in the bullpen. Certainly not to take away from the fact that we’ve hit homeruns, played good defense and we’re hitting pretty good for an average. But you can only be successful in this game if you pitch consistently. No matter how good your offense is, if you do not pitch consistently, you’re not going to win as much. We’ve been able to do that because of our pitching staff. They’ve given us a chance to win, by my estimation, every game we’ve played this year with the exception of one. So, we’ve had a chance to win almost every time out.”

Have you played, by your estimation, a perfect series yet?
“No, I don’t think we’ve played three great games yet. Most of the time the opposition doesn’t allow you to do that. They have a lot to do with that. I know we have to play well all the time in this league. Florida’s on top of everybody right now by one game, so it’s a great league. We’re playing a team this weekend, they have 24 wins, we have 26 wins. Now, they’ve only won 3 games in the league. It makes no difference . They are very, very good. They’ve had a lot of close games. Normally those things even out. We’ve lost some one run games earlier in the season, and we hope to get those back. They say things even out in baseball and I’m hoping that’s the case because we’ll win some close games down the stretch if that’s right.”

South Carolina went 3-1 this past week with a 10-0 win over Furman and two of three wins this weekend at Florida (12-2, 8-6 (11 inn.). After three weeks of SEC play, Carolina sits in a tie for third place overall in the conference with a 7-5 record.

In one of the most impressive offensive performances of the year, junior second baseman Travis Jones went 11-for-15 (.733) at the plate this past week including 9-for-12 (.750) in the weekend series vs. SEC-leading Florida to earn National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball and SEC Player of the Week honors from the conference office.

Jones tallied five home runs in the three-game series vs. the Gators as well as 11 RBI. He also had his second and third multi-homer games of the year on Friday and Sunday vs. Florida, both were Gamecock victories over the Gators. He has three multi-homer games this season for the Gamecocks, the only player on the squad to accomplish the feat.

His three-run homer in Sunday’s 8-6 win over the Gators tied the game in the ninth inning when the Gamecocks were trailing 5-2 with one out and helped lead the Gamecocks to a weekend series victory. Both his five RBI in Friday’s and Sunday’s games also tied a career-high. Jones’ slugging percentage from this week’s four games was 1.800 with six of 11 of his hits extra base hits.

Jones also raised his season batting average to .314. He is one of only two players on the squad to start in all 33 games this year.

South Carolina continues to hit, with two more double-digit hit games this past weekend at Florida. Carolina has reached at least 10 hits in 12 of the last 14 games. The Gamecocks batted .339 in Gainesville (42-for-124) including 11 home runs vs. the Gators. As a team, South Carolina is batting .316 on the year with 57 home runs and 281 runs scored in 33 games.

The Gamecock pitching staff continues to deliver with a team ERA of 2.83 in 305.1 innings with 329 strikeouts and just 111 walks allowed as well. Teams are batting just .225 on the year against the Gamecocks.

A CLOSER LOOK IN THE SEC South Carolina heads into the week leading the SEC in 16 different categories. Carolina leads the conference in seven categories in all games and nine categories in conference games only.

ALL GAMESHITTINGSlugging Pct.   1st .526Home Runs   1st 57Total Bases 1st 635
PITCHINGEarned Run Avg. 1st 2.83Hits Allowed 1st 252Runs Allowed 1st 114Home Runs Allowed 1st 14
SEC GAMES ONLYHITTINGBatting Average 1st .315Slugging Pct. 1st .507Hits 1st 145Home Runs 1st 22Total Bases 1st 233
PITCHINGInnings Pitched 1st 115.0Strikeouts 1st 119Home Runs Allowed 1st 6
FIELDINGPutouts 1st 345
***Stats as of April 12, 2007***

South Carolina has now defeated Florida in seven of the last eight series played between the two schools dating back to the 2000 season (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007)

Junior right-handed pitcher Harris Honeycutt pitched six scoreless innings in Friday’s 12-2 win over the Gators. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in the win. Honeycutt is now 7-0 on the season with the win and is 15-0 in his career at Carolina. This year, Honeycutt owns a 1.43 ERA in 50.1 innings and has struck out 61 batters to just 16 walk. Teams are just batting .194 against him.

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

Senior right-handed pitcher Jeff Jeffords came up big out of the bullpen in Sunday’s 11-inning win over the Gators. Jeffords pitched a career-high 6.2 innings and allowed just one run, unearned, on three hits while striking out four and walking two batters. He is 3-0 on the year with a 1.37 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 19.2 innings of work.

Sophomore first baseman Justin Smoak hit safely in all three games this weekend and has extended his career-long hitting streak to 14 games. Saturday’s game also featured his team-leading 10th home run of the year. He also leads the team with 12 multi-RBI games.

Fans that tuned into Sunday’s live ESPN telecast of the South Carolina-Florida baseball game got their money’s worth as the 11-inning contest featured much dramatics from both sides. Travis Jones’ three-run homer in the ninth inning tied the game with one out, both teams traded runs in the 10th inning and the Gamecocks won it in the 11th inning on a two-run homer by Trent Kline.

The Gamecocks have been on live TV several times already this season and by the time the regular season concludes, will have been on the tube 14 times.

South Carolina sits at fourth in the nation in the three major college baseball rankings released on Monday, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and the ESPN/Sports Weekly coaches’ poll. South Carolina is No. 3 in the NCBWA and No. 4 in the polls as well.

James Darnell hit safely in all three games this past weekend with a home run on Sunday and is batting .355 on the year with nine HR and 32 RBI. He is also the team’s leading hitter in SEC games with a .404 average (21-for-52) as well as 13 RBI.

Junior catcher Trent Kline hit a game-winning homer for the Gamecocks in the 11th inning of Sunday’s 8-6 win over Florida. Kline is the team’s leading hitter at a .360 clip with five homers and 28 RBI on the year. He has started 30 of 32 games as well.

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.

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.

Junior RHP Wynn Pelzer is 1-2 with a save in 15 appearances and owns a 2.45 ERA in 22.0 innings pitched. He has struck out 30 batters to just seven 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 1.98 ERA in nine appearances and 13.2 innings with 25 strikeouts to seven walks.

Junior RHP Curtis Johnson also leads the team with 15 appearances and has struck out 24 batters in 16.2 innings with team’s just batting .193 against him.

Junior left-hander Will Atwood was strong in his first start of the season as he allowed just two runs in seven innings of work on Saturday at Florida. Atwood has been a dependable arm for head coach Ray Tanner as he has put together a 1-1 record in 14 games pitched with a 2.48 ERA. Atwood has logged 36.1 innings and had 30 strikeouts and just seven walks.

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 Sunday’ s win over Florida. Lail is batting .337 on the year with an on-base percentage of .453 as well as six stolen bases. He has the hot bat with four doubles, three homers and 17 RBI in 21 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, 33 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 28 errors.