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March 5, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (6-0) returns to action this weekend with a series vs. perennial Big West power Long Beach State (2-5) at Carolina Stadium. This will be the first ever meeting between the Gamecocks and Dirtbags. First pitch for the opener on Friday is 7 p.m. with Saturday’s contest at 4 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Live video broadcast is available for all three games on

South Carolina vs. Long Beach State
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South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner and Long Beach State head coach Mike Weathers worked on the same coaching staff on the 2003 USA National Team. Tanner served as head coach with Weathers a part of the squad as one of the assistant coaches. Coach Tanner also worked previously with former Long Beach State head coach Dave Snow on the 1995 and 1996 U.S. National teams including the squad that played in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga.

Pitching RotationsGame 1  Pitcher             09 StatsSC  Sam Dyson (RHP, So.)     1-0, 0.79 ERA, 11.1 IP, 3 BB, 11 KLBSU    Jake Thompson (RHP, So.)    0-1, 2.70 ERA, 13.1 IP, 1 BB, 8 K
Game 2 Pitcher 09 StatsSC Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.) 0.0, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 7 BB, 4 KLBSU Adam Wilk (LHP, Jr.) 1-0, 2.38 ERA, 11.1 IP, 3 BB, 10 K
Game 3 Pitcher 09 StatsSC Blake Cooper (RHP, Jr.) 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 1 BB, 12 KLBSU Andrew Gagnon (RHP, Fr.) 0-1, 3.48 ERA, 10.1 IP, 2 BB, 6 K

South Carolina’s 6-0 start for the season has been sparked by the Gamecocks ability to score in the early innings. Carolina has scored in the first two innings in all six games this year and has outscored its opponent 18-1 in the first two innings. Carolina has trailed only once, vs. Charleston Southern, briefly. After allowing a run in the top of the second, the Gamecocks scored in the bottom half of the inning.

South Carolina has homered in all six games this year. Carolina’s single-high is two on Opening Day, Feb. 21, in a 13-0 win over Duquesne. Outfielder DeAngelo Mack leads the team with three home runs. Five different players have tallied a homer this year.

South Carolina’s 3-1 win over Clemson last Saturday marked Carolina’s fifth consecutive win over its rival and its eighth victory in the last nine games vs. the Tigers. Carolina is 22-15 vs. Clemson since the 2000 season with head coach Ray Tanner 24-20 in his career vs. the Tigers. Sunday’s game at Carolina Stadium in Columbia was canceled due to poor weather conditions. Attempts are being made to reschedule the game.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack is off to a solid start at the plate. Mack hit a game-winning solo homer in the 3-1 victory at Clemson on February 28. He also hit a pair of three-run homers in the opening series vs. Duquesne. He is batting .350 (7-for-20) with a double, triple, three homers and eight RBI on the year. He is also among the SEC leaders in slugging percentage (.950) and on-base percentage (.519).

Mack started the season in left field for the Gamecocks. He had a strong end to the 2008 season and made his way into the starting lineup late in the year. Mack blasted seven homers including a pair at the 2008 NCAA Raleigh Regional that put him also on the All-Tournament team. Mack joined Whit Merrifield on the Cape this summer with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

Mack played in 38 games with 30 starts, hit .283 (30-for-106), and tallied five doubles, a triple, seven homers and 21 RBI. He also scored 25 runs and stole a pair of bases. His slugging percentage is 1.083. He has also walked six times and is at .556 for on-base percentage.

Sophomore right-hander Sam Dyson has established himself as the ace of the Gamecock pitching staff. Dyson continued his strong start on the mound as he worked a solid 6.1 innings in Saturday’s victory at Clemson. Dyson, in his second of the start of the year, retired the first 13 batters he faced and limited Clemson to just one run on two hits with five strikeouts and one walk in 6.1 innings of work. On the year, Dyson is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA and just three hits allowed in 11.1 innings. He has struck out 11 batters. Dyson is 9-0 in his career with the Gamecocks.

Senior LHP Alex Farotto has been solid out of the bullpen with a 1-0 record and two saves. Farotto’s latest save came with 0.2 scoreless innings and two strikeouts in the 6-4 win over Charleston Southern. He also worked 2.2 scoreless innings of relief to pick up a win vs. the Clemson Tigers. Farotto has six strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

Carolina’s leading hitter after five games is junior catcher Justin Dalles. He has hit safely in all five of six games and is at a .412 clip (7-for-17) with a double, a homer and three RBI.

The University of South Carolina opened its new baseball facility to start the 2009 season with success as the Gamecocks completed a three-game sweep of Duquesne.

Carolina Stadium is an 8,242 capacity facility. The facility includes coaches’ offices, an indoor hitting/pitching area, a 4,000 square-foot weight room, suite and club seating and a state-of-the-art scoreboard and sound system.

According to Ryan E. Sickman with HOK Sport Company, the firm responsible for designing Carolina Stadium, “I personally have taken great pride in giving the Gamecocks, what is no doubt in my mind, the best collegiate only baseball park in the nation. It is our hope that Carolina Stadium becomes the standard of what to expect from a premier Division I baseball program, and a class act athletics program like the University of South Carolina.”

South Carolina’s opening weekend at Carolina Stadium didn’t disappoint with the inaugural opener attendance at the new complex at 8,153. South Carolina’s average attendance for the first weekend was 6,980.

Three of South Carolina’s first five victories were shutouts. Carolina defeated Duquesne 13-0 on Feb. 21 and 6-0 on Feb. 23 and also kept Georgia State off the scoreboard with a 2-0 win on Mar. 3. The three shutouts surpasses Carolina’s total of two from last year.

14 of the Gamecocks’ 16 newcomers made their debuts in the Duquesne weekend (Nolan Belcher, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Justin Dalles, Nick Ebert, Bobby Haney, Jeffery Jones, Adam Matthews, Grimes Medlin, Matt Price, Jordan Propst, Casey Rihn, Michael Roth, Brady Thomas, Adam Westmoreland).

The South Carolina pitching staff is 6-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 54.0 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .129 on the year (23 hits in 178 at-bats). Carolina has made four errors in six games and is fielding .982 (162 putouts, 59 assists, 4 errors).

Sophomore outfielder Whit Merrifield is finding his way on base as well. Merrifield is batting .278 (5-for-18) with five runs scored, a triple, one home run and four RBI. Merrifield hit a game-winning two-run homer on Mar. 3 vs. Georgia State. Merrifield has also walked five times and has an on-base percentage of .440

Last year, Merrifield was a 2008 SEC All-Freshman team selection and played in 62 of 63 games. Merrifield was among the team’s leading hitters in 2008 as he hit .326 (77-for-236) with nine doubles, a triple and three HR. He was also a 2008 NCAA Regional All-Tournament team pick in Raleigh, N.C. He scored 58 runs and led the team in stolen bases with 11. Merrifield played last summer for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League.

South Carolina freshman LHP Nolan Belcher made his debut in game two vs. Duquesne. Belcher worked four innings in his first appearance and allowed just one run in the 8-4 win. Belcher’s start marked the first time under head coach Ray Tanner that a freshman earned a rotation spot in the first weekend series of the year.

The Augusta, Ga. native won three high school state championships and recorded a career record of 47-2 with 516 strikeouts in 282 innings. He was 12-1 with a 0.89 ERA as a senior as well as 10-1 on the mound as a junior. Baseball America rated him the No. 46 best prospect in the state of Georgia for the 2008 MLB Draft.

South Carolina junior RHP Blake Cooper earned a win in his first start with six scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in Monday’s 6-0 win over the Dukes. Cooper has 34 career appearances at Carolina with 28 starts and owns a 13-8 career record.

Last season, Cooper made the 2008 NCAA Regional All-Tournament team after hurling a career-high nine strikeouts in 8.1 innings of a 7-5 win over James Madison. Cooper was a 2007 Freshman All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball after posting a 7-2 record in his first year with the Garnet & Black.

Junior infielder Nick Ebert has shown remarkable strength since enduring a very difficult situation with the loss of his apartment due to a fire in the complex. Despite the tough loss, Ebert has shown up to play baseball and has played in all six games. The Charleston Southern contest was his first start and he delivered with a 2-for-4 day at the plate, a double and a two-run homer in the win.

The University of South Carolina Athletics Department has established a Fire Relief Fund for two of its own who were affected by the recent fire at a Columbia apartment complex, it was announced today.

Ebert and Adam Nonnemacher, a full-time intern in the athletics marketing department, lost nearly all of their possessions in a fire at the Waterford Apartments off Broad River Road that occurred on February 23. The fire displaced 25 people and caused an estimated $1 million in damage.

“This is a very difficult time for these two young men who are a part of the Gamecock Athletics Family,” said Carolina Athletics Director Eric Hyman. “The Red Cross has assisted in the relief effort, but we wanted to fill in the gaps. We were looking for a way that we could help Nick and Adam recover some of their losses and do so within the framework of the NCAA rules. Former Gamecock pitcher Blake Taylor, a vice president at Southern First Bank, has worked with us to make this a reality.”

Those interested in contributing to the fund should send their donation in care of the E/N Fire Relief Fund, Southern First Bank, 717 Lady Street, Suite D, Columbia, S.C. 29201. Contributions are not tax deductable. If there are any proceeds remaining after Ebert and Nonnemacher’s needs are met, that money would go to the Red Cross.

After undergoing back surgery in the summer, senior third baseman Andrew Crisp is back and healthy for his final season in a Gamecock uniform. Crisp had a pair of hits in the 6-4 win over Charleston Southern and is batting .318 (7-for-22).

One of the more versatile players on the team, Crisp has played in 179 career games and is a career .302 hitter with the Gamecocks. Despite his back problems last year, Crisp played in 51 games with 48 starts and hit .296 (55-for-186) with five doubles, a pair of homers and 25 RBI. Crisp is the most experienced player on the 2009 squad.

Freshman left-hander Adam Westmoreland had his first extended outing and was outstanding in the 2-0 win vs. Georgia State. Earning his first victory, Westmoreland pitched six scoreless innings and struck out eight batters for Carolina.

Freshman OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. showed promising signs vs. Duquesne on the opening weekend with three hits in Sunday’s 8-4 win including two doubles and a three-run homer.

A native of Prince George, Va., Bradley, Jr. was a 2008 all-state performer in the state of Virginia. Bradley, Jr. looks to maybe sit at top of Ray Tanner’s batting order for the 2009 season.

Senior right-hander Curtis Johnson was effective in his most recent relief appearance as he hurled 2.2 perfect innings with five strikeouts in the 6-4 win over Charleston Southern.

Johnson returned to the field against Duquesne on opening weekend for his first appearance since suffering an injury in the beginning of the 2008 season. Johnson pitched two innings and earned the win in the 8-4r victory over Duquesne.

A majority of South Carolina’s roster is filled with products of the Palmetto State with 21 players from throughout the state. The midlands, lowcountry and upstate are all highlighted on Carolina’s roster.

South Carolina (21)Austin Ashmore - GreerJesse Barbaro - AwendawBlake Cooper - NeesesJordan Costner - SpartanburgAndrew Crisp - GreerKyle Enders - GreerAlex Farotto - GreerJustin Hopper - LexingtonCurtis Johnson - SumterDeAngelo Mack - W. ColumbiaAdam Matthews - LexingtonBrandon Miller - GreenwoodSteven Neff - LancasterMatt Price - SumterJordan Propst - GaffneyJames Rawls - LeesvilleMichael Roth - GreerBrady Thomas - AndersonCraig Thomas - LexingtonAdam Westmoreland - CayceScott Wingo - Greenville

The South Carolina baseball team will have eight home baseball games televised by SportSouth for the 2009 season. SportSouth will showcase games with LSU and Auburn as well as the entire series with both Vanderbilt and Georgia. The Gamecocks will also be featured once on FSN South and SEC-TV on Saturday, April 25 as the SEC Game of the Week at Florida.

Here is the complete TV game schedule. Please note the game time changes in bold.March 22 - LSU @ South Carolina - 1:30 p.m. ETApril 18 - Auburn @ South Carolina - 4 p.m. ETApril 25 - South Carolina @ Florida - 4 p.m. ET (SEC-TV/FSN South)May 1 - Vanderbilt @ South Carolina - 7 p.m. ETMay 2 - Vanderbilt @ South Carolina - 7 p.m. ETMay 3 - Vanderbilt @ South Carolina - 1:30 p.m. ETMay 14 - Georgia @ South Carolina - 7 p.m. ETMay 15 - Georgia @ South Carolina - 7 p.m. ETMay 16 - Georgia @ South Carolina - 1 p.m. ET

The regional sports networks serving the Southeast – FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas and FOX Sports Tennessee – collectively reach more than 12 million cable and satellite television households in seven states in the Southeast. SportSouth reaches more than nine million homes in six Southeastern states.