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May 8, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (35-14) hosts its final non-conference game of the regular season with a Wednesday night tilt vs. The Citadel (25-21). First pitch is scheduled for 8 pm at Sarge Frye Field with live audio, video and gametracker stats available at Carolina has not lost a non-conference game at home this year with a 14-0 record. The Gamecocks’ overall home record is 21-5 at Sarge Frye Field.

South Carolina leads the all-time series history 114-44-1 although The Citadel won the first meeting of the season this year. The Bulldogs were victorious in the previous match-up when they rallied from five runs down in the sixth inning to defeat Carolina 7-6 on Sunday afternoon at Joe Riley Park on February 18th.

South Carolina is scheduled to start sophomore right-hander Mike Cisco (3-2, 4.63 ERA) while The Citadel starter is to be announced.

South Carolina went 2-1 on the week winning a home SEC series against Kentucky. Carolina defeated the Wildcats 8-1 on Friday, fell 8-4 on Saturday and won the series with a 13-6 win in Sunday’s finale. South Carolina is now 35-14 and 13-11 in the SEC. Carolina sits in second place in the Eastern Division and tied for fourth place overall.

For the second time this season, junior infielder Travis Jones has been named SEC Player of the Week. Jones was solid in the Kentucky series batting .571 (8-for-14) on the weekend with a pair of home runs, five runs scored and seven RBI. In his last 24 games, Jones has batted .400 (38-for-95) with 14 HR and 42 RBI. Eleven of his 15 home runs have come in SEC games this year.

On the year, Jones is batting .330 with 15 HR and 53 RBI as well as 12 doubles. He also leads the team with 12 stolen bases. Jones and first baseman Justin Smoak have started all 49 games this season.

Jones previously earned the honor and was featured in Sports Illustrated in the Faces in the Crowd section after the Florida series in April. In one of the most impressive offensive performances of the year, junior second baseman Travis Jones went 11-for-15 (.733) the week of the Florida series, including 9-for-12 (.750) vs. the Gators 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.

South Carolina heads down the home stretch of the SEC season with two series left in the league for a total of six games. Carolina is on the road this week at Tennessee before closing out league play at home vs. Georgia. 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     15-152007:       11-10       2-1     -------TOTALS  99-68 (.593)    44-22 (.667)    130-79 (.622)

South Carolina made a small tweak to its pitching rotation last 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 made his fourth start against an SEC opponent and delivered vs. Kentucky with a quality six-inning performance. Hempy struck out a season-high 10 batters in six innings of Friday’s 8-1 win over the Wildcats. He is now 5-1 on the year with a 1.59 ERA in 39.2 innings with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks and just 26 hits allowed. Hempy has three of five of his wins in SEC contests. He is 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings and SEC teams batting just .180 against him.

Harris Honeycutt enters this week with a 7-4 record and a 3.63 ERA with a team-high 69.1 innings pitched with 83 strikeouts and 25 walks.

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 .328 batting average (64-for-195), 15 HR and 57 RBI. He is one of two players on the squad to have started all 49 games on the year and is fielding .995 at first base with just two errors.

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.

The Gamecocks knocked out six home runs in the Kentucky series and now have 86 on the year. The 86 homers is currently the 10th highest by a Carolina team in school history. Four Gamecocks have 10 or more home runs (James Darnell (16), Travis Jones (15), Justin Smoak (15) and Phil Disher (10)). The Gamecocks went back-to-back for the second time on the year when Jones and Darnell hit consecutive home runs on Sunday vs. Kentucky as well.

South Carolina’s game high for home runs is five, set on April 22 in a 11-9 win at Ole Miss. 13 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 at Ole Miss in Sunday’s win. Smoak currently has 32 career home runs in his second season in the garnet and black.

A LOOK AT SOME RECORDSTEAM RECORDS ((single-season)Place   Season      HR1)      1985        1442)      1986        1273)      2002        122        1998        1225)      2001        110
Place Season HR6) 2004 1067) 2001 1058) 1997 949) 2006 9210) 2007 86
INDIVIDUALCareer 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 Justin Smoak 2006-0732 Joe Datin 1985-8631 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 after going 0-for-3 vs. the Clemson Tigers on April 25th. 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 the team leader in hitting at a .331 clip (57-for-172) with six doubles, two triples and 16 home runs. Three 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.

The Gamecock pitching staff continues to be among the conference leaders with a team ERA of 3.65. The Gamecock pitchers have 461 strikeouts to 166 walks in 444.1 innings of work with opponents batting just .239 on the year.

The 10-1 victory vs. Auburn featured a solid performance on the mound from junior left-hander Arik Hempy that earned him SEC Pitcher of the Week. In his first start against at SEC team this season, Hempy limited the Tigers to just two hits in a season-high 6.2 innings of work with five strikeouts and four walks. Hempy did not allow a hit from the 2nd-5th inning against Auburn.

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 2.04 ERA in 17 appearances with 35.1 innings pitched. He has 43 strikeouts to seven 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 and this past Sunday vs. Kentucky.

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 enters the weekend leading the SEC in eight different categories (4/30). The team leads both all games and SEC games only in slugging percentage, home runs and total bases as well as runs scored and runs batted in against SEC teams.

ALL GAMESHITTINGSlugging Pct.   1st .517Home Runs   1st 86Total Bases 1st 905SEC GAMES ONLYHITTINGSlugging Pct.   1st .497Runs Scored 1st 181Runs Batted In  1st 169Home Runs   1st 43Total Bases 1st 437

South Carolina outfielder Steven Reinhold was a spark in the Gamecock lineup as a starter in the last two games at Alabama and started all three games last week vs. Kentucky. Reinhold had a career-high four hits in the 11-10 loss 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 41 of the 47 games for Carolina this year.

Junior catcher Trent Kline was added to the Johnny Bench Award Watch list in April. The award is given to the top collegiate catcher in the country. Kline is batting .324 on the year with 15 doubles, a triple, five home runs and 34 RBI. He has started 43 games this year for Carolina.

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 (31-10) sits at No. 7 in this week’s USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll and also rank No. 12 by Baseball America and No. 14 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 released on Monday afternoon.

The Sunday win over Kentucky featured a quality performance on the mound from freshman RHP Blake Cooper. Cooper did not allow a run until the sixth inning and worked 5.2 innings to pick up the victory. He struck out five and walked just one batter.

Cooper worked a career-high 7.2 innings also back on April 1 vs. Vanderbilt and allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out four batters in a win over the Commodores. 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 six of eight starts and is 6-1 on the year with a 2.76 ERA in 45.2 innings of work with just 42 hits allowed and 34 strikeouts to just 16 walks.

The Gamecocks have played well at home at Sarge Frye Field with a 21-5 record. and have drawn incredible crowds with 125,104 fans this season for an average of 5,004 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 239-52 record (.821) 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 2-2 with a save in 19 appearances and owns a 4.54 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 40 batters to just 12 walks allowed.

Sophomore LHP Alex Farotto has been productive in the last few weeks and showcased an impressive relief performance at Mississippi State, where he struck out seven of eight batters he faced to close out the game, a career-high. Farotto is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 appearances and 23.1 innings with 34 strikeouts to 12 walks.

Junior RHP Curtis Johnson leads the team with 21 appearances and has struck out 34 batters in 24.2 innings with team’s just batting .191 against him.