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March 13, 2008

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (10-3) enters conference play this weekend heading to Nashville, Tenn. for a three-game series with Vanderbilt (10-3) beginning on Friday night at 7 pm ET at Hawkins Field. The series features two top-10 clubs with Carolina entering ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation (Collegiate Baseball) and Vanderbilt as high as No. 6 in the country (Baseball America). All three games can be heard live on the Gamecock Radio Network including flagship station 107.5 FM as well as on-line at gamecocksonline.com.

PITCHING ROTATION
Friday

SC Mike Cisco, Jr. (RHP) 3-0, 2.79 ERA, 19.1 IP, 14 K, 2 BB
VANDY Mike Minor, So. (LHP) 2-1, 1.66 ERA, 21.2 IP, 21 K, 6 BB

Saturday
SC Will Atwood, Jr. (LHP) 0-0, 1.35 ERA, 6.1 IP, 6 K, 5 BB
VANDY Nick Christiani, Jr. (RHP) 1-0, 2.55 ERA, 17.2 IP, 19 K, 4 BB

Sunday
SC Blake Cooper, So. (RHP) 2-1, 1.80 ERA, 15.0 IP, 9 K, 1 BB
VANDY Caleb Cotham, Fr. (RHP) 2-0, 1.96 ERA, 18.1 IP, 19 K, 7 BB

SERIES HISTORY
South Carolina leads series 39-14 vs. Commodores. Vanderbilt has won the last three series played between the two schools and eight of the last 11 meetings dating back to the 2005 season. South Carolina last won in Nashville in 2004 when the Gamecocks took two of three from the Commodores. After a 6-2 loss in the series opener, Carolina bounced back with wins of 6-3 and 10-4 to take the series. Carolina also defeated Vanderbilt that season in the SEC Tournament championship game.

A LOOK AT THE POLLS
The Gamecocks are ranked among the top teams in the nation coming in at No. 5 (Collegiate Baseball) No. 6 (ESPN/USA Today Coaches’) and No. 8 (Baseball America) in the three major collegiate polls.

QUICK RECAP
Carolina split a midweek series with Yale on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Gamecocks fell to Yale 5-3 on Tuesday night but bounced back with an 11-5 win on Wednesday evening. The 11-5 win featured Scott Wingo’s first career home run as well as a grand slam homer from James Darnell. Sean Wideberg earned his first career win with four scoreless innings of relief and eight strikeouts. The Carolina pitching staff tied its season-high as well for strikeouts in a game with 15 K’s vs. Yale.

Last weekend’s sweep vs. Duquesne featured 35 runs from the Gamecock offense with the team batting .369 on the weekend (38-for-103). The Carolina pitching staff was solid allowing eight runs, six earned (2.00 ERA) with 35 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched. Three Carolina pitchers (Will Atwood, Parker Bangs, Brandon Todd) combined for 15 K’s in the Saturday 10-2 win over the Dukes. The 15-strikeout total tied for the ninth highest mark by a staff under head coach Ray Tanner in a game. The Gamecocks also showed solid defense over the weekend with just one error made in 112 chances

GAMECOCKS AT THE PLATE
Carolina has scored 113 runs in 13 games played for an average of 8.7 runs per contest this year. The Gamecocks have scored at least 10 runs in seven of the 13 games played this season. South Carolina is batting .312 as a team on the year with 20 home runs and 106 RBI. Carolina has hit at least one home run in 12 of 13 games this season.

DARNELL DRIVES THEM IN
Carolina junior third baseman James Darnell made his first home run of the year a big one as he knocked a grand slam homer in Wednesday’s victory over Yale. It marked his first career grand slam and helped lift Carolina to a victory. Darnell is second on the team in RBI on the season with 17 this year.

HAVENS CONTINUES HIS STRONG START
Gamecock junior shortstop Reese Havens continues to lead the team in hitting with a .411 average (23-for-56) after 13 games. He also leads the team in home runs (4) and RBI (22). He owns a 13-game hitting streak as well, the only Gamecock player to have hit safely in all 13 games this year.

Havens earned SEC Player of the Week honors following his performance on opening weekend vs. East Carolina. Havens was 7-for-14 (.500) for the series with a pair of homers, six RBI and seven runs scored. His five hits in the season opener tied his career-high and he set a career-high as well with five RBI in the 22-5 win over the Pirates.

SMOAK MOVES UP THE CHARTS
Carolina junior first baseman Justin Smoak has hit safely in 11 of 13 games and is batting .362 (17-for-47) with three HR and 12 RBI. Smoak homered last in the 5-1 win at Clemson. He now has 42 career homers and is tied with Steve Pearce (2004-05) for sixth on the Gamecock All-Time Career List. The school record is 48 set by Hank Small (1972-73-74-75).

Home Runs Career List48  Hank Small (1972-73-74-75)47  Garrett Carter (1985-86-87-88)45  Jeff Parnell (1990-91-92-93)44  Landon Powell (2001-02-03-04)43  Chris Boyle (1981-82-83-84)42  Justin Smoak (2006-07-08)42  Steve Pearce (2004-05)

THE CISCO KID
Junior right-hander Mike Cisco is now 3-0 this season after picking up a win vs. Duquesne on Friday. Cisco went seven innings and allowed four runs on six hits with six strikeouts and no walks … He is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in a team-high 19.1 innings pitched. He has 14 strikeouts to just two walks on the year. Cisco is the scheduled starter on Friday night at Vanderbilt.

CUJO
Senior right-hander Curtis Johnson has been solid in three appearances out of the bullpen including four scoreless innings in Monday’s win vs. Presbyterian. He is 1-0 with one save with a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings with 13 strikeouts as well.

“CuJo” picked up his first save of the year in Sunday’s win at Clemson. He hurled three scoreless innings and struck out four batters. The week before, Johnson pitched a career-high 6.2 innings and tied another career-high with five strikeouts as he came up big in relief in the 7-6 win over ECU. Johnson kept the East Carolina bats at bay to help the Gamecocks rally as he did now allow a run to ECU from the fifth-eighth innings.

HANGING WITH MR. COOPER
Sophomore right-hander Blake Cooper earned a second straight win in Sunday’s victory vs. Duquesne. Cooper hurled six scoreless innings with just three hits allowed while striking out six. He is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings pitched, nine strikeouts and just one walk. Cooper will start on Sunday at Vanderbilt.

WHAT A CROWD
Gamecock fans have been out and about for two and a half weeks at Sarge Frye Field. The attendance for the Clemson game on March 1 was a season-high 5,921 fans and the weekend attendance for the opening series with East Carolina finished up at 16,719 for an average of 5,573 fans per game. The Gamecocks are averaging 4,679 fans per contest.

The Gamecocks set a school record for total attendance last year with 159,545 as a total in 2007 that averaged 4,985 fans per game. It is “Extra Innings” at Sarge Frye Field as the Gamecocks prepare to move into a new baseball stadium in the beginning of the 2009.

GAMECOCKS ON THE MOUND
The Gamecock Pitching Staff owns a team ERA of 3.53 after 120 innings pitched with opponents only batting .242 against the Gamecocks as well as 121 strikeouts in 13 games.

ENDERS CONTINUES TO CONTRIBUTE
Carolina sophomore catcher Kyle Enders is also swinging a hot bat after going 5-for-9 (.556) in two starts last weekend vs. Duquesne. Enders had a career-high three hits and three RBI in Sunday’s win. He also homered in Friday’s victory. Enders is batting at a .347 clip (17-for-49) with a pair of homers and 11 RBI on the year.

The sophomore from Riverside HS came up big in the clutch for the Gamecocks in a 7-6 rally over East Carolina as his two-run single with the bases loaded and one out gave Carolina a one-run victory and clinched the series.

ON BASE WITH WINGO
Carolina freshman second baseman Scott Wingo continues to lead the team in on-base percentage at .623 after 13 games played. Wingo reached base 11 times over the weekend vs. Duquesne with a single, five walks and five hit by pitches. Friday’s win featured Wingo being hit by pitch three times, to tie a school record.

Wingo hit his first career home run in Wednesday’s win vs. Yale. A pitch also hit him for the 11th time in the season, tying him for the USC freshman record previously set by Mac White (11). He also leads the team in walks with 15 this year.

WELCOME BACK
Carolina junior Andrew Crisp returned to the starting lineup with a pair of starts on Saturday and Sunday at designated hitter. Saturday he tallied two hits. Crisp started in left field on Monday and Wednesday and is batting .308 after nine games.

D-MACK DELIVERS
Gamecock sophomore outfielder DeAngelo Mack had a strong week at the plate with three starts in left field. Mack hit .600 (6-for-10) vs. the Dukes with four runs scored. Mack homered Saturday vs. Duquesne as well as Tuesday vs. Yale.

RIDE THE HARLEY
Senior outfielder Harley Lail provides the leadership in the outfield for the Gamecocks and shows his way with the bat as well. Lail has nine extra base hits (6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR). Lail hit a three-run homer, his first of the year, in Sunday’s win over Duquesne and also homered on Wednesday vs.Yale. He leads the team with six doubles and is batting .340 with 11 RBI.

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