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May 3, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – After a pair of weekends on the road, the South Carolina (33-13, 11-10 SEC) baseball team returns home this weekend for an SEC series against Kentucky (30-13-1, 9-11-1 SEC). Friday’s first pitch for the opener is set for 7 pm. Saturday’s game time has been moved to 6 pm to accommodate student-athletes and final exams at the University of South Carolina. The Sunday series finale is still set for 1:30 pm.


SC Arik Hempy, Jr. (LHP) 4-1, 1.87 ERA, 33.2 IP, 35 K, 6 BB
KY Chris Rusin, So. (LHP) 4-2, 4.35 ERA, 68.1 IP, 64 K, 27 BB

SC Harris Honeycutt, Jr. (RHP) 7-3, 3.03 ERA, 65.1 IP, 79 K, 24 BB
KY Andrew Albers, Jr. (LHP) 5-3, 4.94 ERA, 58.1 IP, 43 K, 14 BB

SC Blake Cooper, Fr. (RHP) 5-1, 2.25 ERA, 40.0 IP, 29 K, 15 BB
Mike Cisco, So. (RHP) 3-2, 4.63 ERA, 56.1 IP, 45 K, 12 BB
KY Greg Dombrowski, Jr. (RHP) 4-1, 4.88 ERA, 55.1 IP, 38 K, 7 BB

South Carolina will make a small tweak to its pitching rotation this weekend with junior left-hander Arik Hempy starting on Friday night and junior right-hander Harris Honeycutt moving to Saturday’s game.

Hempy will be making his fourth start against an SEC opponent this year in Friday’s game. Hempy owns a 4-1 record with 1.87 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched with 32 strikeouts to 12 walks allowed. The junior lefty pitched a season-high 7.1 innings and struck out a season-high seven batters in the Saturday 4-1 win over Alabama.

Harris Honeycutt enters Saturday’s game with a 7-3 record and a 3.03 ERA with a team-high 65.1 innings pitched with 79 strikeouts and 24 walks.

South Carolina will either start freshman right-hander Blake Cooper or sophomore right-hander Mike Cisco on Sunday afternoon.

South Carolina heads down the home stretch of the SEC season with three series left in the league for a total of nine games. Carolina hosts six of its last nine SEC games at Sarge Frye Field. Below are results dating back the last seven seasons of South Carolina in its final nine games of the conference schedule.

Year        First 21        Last 9      Final SEC record2000:       18-3        7-2     25-52001:       10-11       7-2     17-132002:       14-6        7-2     21-82003:       10-11       9-0     19-112004:       11-10       6-3     17-132005:       12-9        4-5     16-142006:       13-8        2-7     15-15TOTALS  88-58 (.603)    42-21 (.667)    130-79 (.622)

South Carolina junior right-handed pitcher Harris Honeycutt and sophomore first baseman Justin Smoak have been named semi-finalists for the 2007 Golden Spikes Award. USA Baseball presents the award to the nation’s premier amateur baseball player. The names of the 50 semi-finalists will now be forwarded to a voting body of 125 who will select the five finalists and the eventual winner. The winner’s name will be announced on June 29, 2007 during the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Show presented by Major League Baseball.

“USA Baseball is extremely proud to recognize these 50 athletes and their respective baseball programs as semi-finalists for the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “To see 40 different schools represented on this year’s semi-finalist list speaks to the level of college baseball talent across the country.”

Smoak currently is among the top hitters in the nation with a .332 batting average (61-for-184), 14 HR and 53 RBI. He is one of two players on the squad to have started all 46 games on the year and is fielding .998 at first base with just one error. Honeycutt has put together a 7-3 record with a 3.03 ERA in 11 starts including 79 strikeouts to 24 walks in a team-high 65.1 innings pitched.

A South Carolina player has won the Golden Spikes Award one time in the 30-year history. Kip Bouknight received the honor after the 2000 season in which he went 17-1 to help lead the Gamecocks to an SEC Championship and the NCAA Super Regional.

For the past 29 years, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award. Following the first ever presentation of the Award to Bob Horner of Arizona State in 1978, the Golden Spikes Award has been presented each year to the player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability and exemplary sportsmanship. The 2006 Golden Spikes Award winner was Tim Lincecum of the University of Washington. Past winners of this prestigious award include current Major League Baseball players such as Alex Gordon (`05), Rickie Weeks (`03), Khalil Greene (`02), Jason Jennings (`00), Pat Burrell (`98), J.D. Drew (`97), Mark Kotsay (`95), and Jason Varitek (`94). Former Major League stars that have captured the award include Robin Ventura (`88), Jim Abbott (`87), Will Clark (`85), Dave Magadan (`83), Terry Francona (`80), Tim Wallach (`79), and Bob Horner (`78).

USA Baseball is the National Governing Body of amateur baseball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee.

South Carolina enters the weekend as the nation’s leader in home runs as a team. South Carolina has hit 80 on the year with four players with 10 or more homers (James Darnell (15), Justin Smoak (14), Travis Jones (13) and Phil Disher (10). The Gamecocks are 30-7 on the year when hitting at least one home run in a game.

South Carolina’s game high for home runs is five, set on April 22 in a 11-9 win at Ole Miss. 12 different position players have hit at least one home run this season.

Justin Smoak became the 20th player in school history to reach the 30 home run mark when he homered last week at Ole Miss in Sunday’s win. Smoak currently has 31 career home runs in his second season in the garnet and black.

Career Home Runs (30 or more)TTL Player          Years Lettered48      Hank Small      1972-73-74-7547      Garrett Carter      1985-86-87-8845      Jeff Parnell        1990-91-92-9344      Landon Powell      2001-02-03-0443      Chris Boyle     1981-82-83-8442      Steve Pearce        2004-0541      Tripp Kelly     1998-99-00-0141      Charlie Aldrich     1985-86-8738      Eric Stanton        1996-97-9836      Derick Urquhart     1995-96-97-9834      Ryan Bordenick      1995-96-97-9833      Jim Curl        1978-79-80-8132      Joe Datin       1985-8631      Justin Smoak        2006-0731      Michael Campbell    2003-04-05-0631      Brendan Winn        2004-0531      Yaron Peters        2001-0231      Jerry Shepherd      1991-9231      Dave Hollins        1985-86-8730      Jeff Barns      1985-86-87

Sophomore first baseman Justin Smoak had his hitting streak snapped at 23 games last Wednesday night after going 0-for-3 vs. the Clemson Tigers. Smoak was two games shy of the school record of 25 set by Greg Keatley in the 1976 season. The 23-game hitting streak is the longest by an SEC player this year.

James Darnell is another team leader in hitting at a .323 clip (52-for-161) with five doubles, two triples and 15 home runs. Two weeks ago, Darnell had four consecutive home runs, when he hit a pair of three-run homers on Saturday and Sunday vs. Auburn along with a pair of solo shots vs. Wofford and Clemson in the midweek contests. The four consecutive homers was one short of the school record.

Junior INF Travis Jones continues to swing a hot bat after three hits and three RBI as well as a home run on Sunday at Alabama. He batted .391 (9-for-23) in five games last week with two HR and eight RBI. Jones now is batting .310 (54-for-174) on the year with 13 HR and 46 RBI on the year and is also fielding .983 with just four errors at second base.

The Gamecock pitching staff continues to be among the conference leaders with a team ERA of 3.58. The Gamecock pitchers have 428 strikeouts to 158 walks in 417.1 innings of work with opponents batting just .239 on the year.

Junior RHP Jeff Jeffords is making a habit out of being successful out of the bullpen for the Gamecocks. Jeffords owns a 4-1 record with a 1.80 ERA in 15 appearances with 30 innings pitched. He has 35 strikeouts to six walks allowed. Jeffords earned his first career save with two scoreless innings in the 11-9 victory at Ole Miss. He also earned a save last Saturday at Alabama.

He worked 3.1 scoreless innings of relief and picked up the win a previous Sunday game, a win over the Auburn Tigers. He allowed just two hits in his appearance.

South Carolina entrees the weekend leading the SEC in six different categories (4/30). The team leads both all games and SEC games only in slugging percentage, home runs and total bases.

ALL GAMESHITTINGSlugging Pct.   1st .515Home Runs   1st 80Total Bases 1st 847
SEC GAMES ONLYHITTINGSlugging Pct. 1st .492Home Runs 1st 37Total Bases 1st 379

South Carolina outfielder Steven Reinhold was a spark in the Gamecock lineup as a starter in the last two games at Alabama. Reinhold had a career-high four hits in Sunday’s game vs. the Crimson Tide, also his first career multi-hit game.

Reinhold has been primarily a defensive replacement in the late innings and a pinch runner, as he has played in 38 of the 46 games for Carolina this year.