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March 19, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. – The SEC season continues this weekend with South Carolina (13-4, 1-2 SEC) hosting its first conference opponent at home this year with a weekend slate vs. LSU (15-4, 2-1 SEC) scheduled at Carolina Stadium. First pitch for the opener is set for 7 p.m. on Friday with Saturday’s game scheduled for 4 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale at 1:30 p.m., televised live on SportSouth. All three games are also available on the Gamecock Radio Network and on the web at

The Gamecocks and Tigers met four times last season with the Bayou Bengals coming out on top in all four contests, three games in Baton Rouge and one at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner is 19-17 (.528) all-time at South Carolina vs. LSU. The Tigers lead the series history 26-20-1. South Carolina won two out of three games vs. LSU in 2007, the last time the two teams met in Columbia. South Carolina enters the weekend on the back of consecutive shutouts in the midweek vs. Davidson (6-0) and Furman (15-0).

Pitching Rotations (probable starters)

SC – Sam Dyson (RHP, So.) – 2-1, 3.18 ERA, 22.2 IP, 7 BB, 23 K
LSU – Anthony Ranaudo (RHP, So.) – 2-0, 1.85 ERA, 24.1 IP, 7 BB, 42 K

SC – Adam Westmoreland (LHP, Fr.) – 2-0, 3.38 ERA, 16.0 IP, 14 BB, 19 K

SC – Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.) – 0-1, 7.43 ERA, 13.1 IP, 11 BB, 14 K

Probable Starting LineupPos.    Player  09 Stats (Avg-HR-RBI)   NotesC   Justin Dalles (Jr.)  .333-4-12   Game-winning RBI single in 5-4 win over Mississippi St.
1B Nick Ebert (Jr.) .513-7-18 Nine-game hit streak/reached base five times vs. Furman
2B Scott Wingo (So.) .189-0-4 Tied career-high with three hits in 15-0 win over Furman
SS Bobby Haney (Jr.) .234-0-6 A pair of hits in 5-4 win over MSU
3B Andrew Crisp (Sr.) .318-3-12 Reached 200 career hit total in 15-0 win over Furman
LF DeAngelo Mack (Jr.) .359-8-22 Three hits and four RBI in 15-0 win over Furman
CF Whit Merrifield (So.) .308-3-11 Three hits in 15-0 win over Furman
RF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Fr.).288-2-8 Homered and doubled in 15-0 win over Furman
DH Parker Bangs (So.) .313-1-8 Two hits and a RBI in 6-0 win over Davidson or Kyle Enders (Jr.) .357-1-3 Two hits and two RBI in 5-4 win over Mississippi St.
(note probable starting lineup comes from SID)

South Carolina pounded out a season-high 22 hits and scored in six of nine innings at the plate on its way to a 15-0 victory over Furman on Wednesday evening at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. The offense backed up a solid start by Gamecock junior right-hander Blake Cooper, who worked six scoreless innings and combined with four relief pitchers to limit the Paladins to two hits to earn the victory and Carolina’s second straight shutout this week. Carolina improves to 13-4 on the year while the loss drops the Paladins to 8-8 for the season.

South Carolina’s 22-hit total ties for the ninth highest total of hits by a Carolina team under head coach Ray Tanner. It is the most hits by the South Carolina since March 23, 2007 when the Gamecocks totaled 25 hits at Mississippi State. 12 different players recorded at least one hit. Nick Ebert continued swinging his hot bat with a 3-for-3 day at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI. He is now hitting .513 for the season. DeAngelo Mack was also 3-for-5 and tied his career-high with four RBI. Scott Wingo tied a career-high in hits as he finished 3-for-5 as well at the plate. Whit Merrifield was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI. Also recording a multi-hit game was Andrew Crisp, who finished 2-for-5 with two RBI. Carolina out-hit the Paladins 22-2 in the game and finished with a season-high 33 total bases.

Cooper, who struggled in his previous two starts, was in command the entire evening. In his six-inning stint, he tied a season-high with seven strikeouts and just walked one batter. Cooper did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and allowed two in his outing. Relievers Jay Brown, Will Casey, Brandon Miller and Jordan Costner combined for three hitless innings to preserve the shutout. Cooper is now 2-2 on the year. Furman starter J.P. Goldsberry suffered the loss and is 1-2 for the season. He went one inning and allowed one run on two hits.

South Carolina is 12-0 in games this year when tallying more hits than its opponent. South Carolina’s 22-hit total in Wednesday’s 15-0 win at Furman was the most in a single game for Carolina this year. As a team, South Carolina is batting .316 (183-for-580). The team has scored 129 runs.

South Carolina is 2-0 in one-run games and 4-0 in two-run games year. Carolina’s record is 6-1 this season in games decided by three runs or less.

The South Carolina offense has now homered in 16 of 17 games this season. The Gamecocks had a home run in 13 straight games before going without one in the second game of the series vs. Mississippi State. Carolina still has 31 homers on the year.

Junior first baseman Nick Ebert continues to swing the hot bat for Carolina and is the SEC’s leading hitter with a .513 average (20-for-39). He also has seven HR and 158 RBI. Ebert has hit safely in nine straight games and had a streak of four straight games with a home run (vs. Long Beach State, Presbyterian, Old Dominion and Wofford) this past week. Ebert reached base five times in the 15-0 win at Furman (3-for-3 with two walks) as well as three times vs. Davidson (1-for-2 with two walks).

Ebert went 4-for-5 in Sunday’s 5-4 win over Mississippi State, he is the first Gamecock player this year to record four or more hits in a game (3/15). He also was 1-for-2 with four RBI in the 6-5 win over Presbyterian (3/9). He finished last week in six games batting 10-for-18 (.556) with three HR and nine RBI.

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.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack is off to a solid start at the plate. Mack is among the team’s leading hitters with a .359 average (23-for-64) and leads the squad in runs scored (19) and RBI (22). He tallied three hits and tied a career-high with four RBI at Furman (3/18). He also hit his team-leading eight homer vs. Davidson on Tuesday.

He tallied his first multi-homer game of his career in the Saturday win vs. Long Beach State. Mack also hit a game-winning solo homer in the 3-1 victory at Clemson on February 28. In addition, he hit a pair of three-run homers in the opening series vs. Duquesne.

Mack started last 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.

Senior infielder Andrew Crisp reached a milestone in Wednesday’s win at Furman as his 2-for-5 day at the plate put him at 200-plus hits in his career at Carolina. He is now the 22nd player in school history that has tallied 200 or more hits. Crisp is hitting .318 for the season (21-for-66)).

Hits  (200 or more)    303 Mac White   1991-92-93-94    299 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06    285 Drew Meyer  2000-01-02    265 Landon Powell    2001-02-03-04    265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98    250 Mike Curry  1996-97-98    246 Justin Smoak   2006-07-08    245 Hank Small  1972-73-74-75    231 Dave Willman    1989-90-91-92    230 Skeets Thomas   1988-89-90    227 Jeff Barns  1985-86-87    225 Jeff Parnell    1990-91-92-93    224 Chris Boyle     1981-82-83-84    215 Reese Havens  2006-07-08    211 Ryan Bordenick  1995-96-97-98    210 Garrett Carter  1985-86-87-88    209 Burke Cromer    1989-90-91-92    207 Jim Curl    1978-79-80-81    206 Greg Johnson    1977-78-79-80    203 Greg Mor hardt  1982-83-84    202 Andrew Crisp    2005-06-07-08-09    201 Brian Buscher    2002-03

The Gamecock pitching staff owns a team ERA of 4.47 after 17 games this season. The staff has 160 strikeouts in 149.0 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .225 against the Gamecocks, no team has a lower average in the SEC.

South Carolina is also fielding .975 (447 putouts, 171 assists, 16 errors), tying the team for first in the SEC with Alabama.

South Carolina had consecutive shutouts on Tuesday and Wednesday night in the 6-0 win vs. Davidson and 15-0 win at Furman. South Carolina has not had consecutive shutouts since the 2006 season when Carolina defeated Radford 2-0 and Duquesne 15-0.

The Gamecocks now have five shutouts on the year.

Sophomore right-hander Sam Dyson has established himself as the ace of the Gamecock pitching staff. Dyson continued his strong start on the mound a couple weeks ago with seven innings of work vs. Long Beach State without allowing an earned run to pick up the win.

On the year, Dyson is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA and has just 15 hits allowed in 22.2 innings. He has struck out 23 batters. Dyson is 10-1 in his career with the Gamecocks.

Sophomore outfielder Whit Merrifield is finding his way on base as well. On the year, he is batting .308 (20-for65) with a pair of triples, three HR and 11 RBI. His on-base percentage is .397. Merrifield tied his career-high with three hits in the 15-0 win at Furman.

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.

Junior catcher Kyle Enders saw his most action of the season this weekend as he appeared in all three games vs. Mississippi State including a start at designated hitter in second game and a start at catcher in the series finale. In the 5-4 win over Mississippi State, Enders went 2-for-3 with a double, HR as well as two RBI in the victory.

Sophomore Parker Bangs has been helping the team out on the mound and at the plate this week. Tuesday’s 6-0 win vs. Davidson featured Bangs in his first career start hurling 7.0 scoreless innings to pick up the win. He also contributed at the plate as he hit for himself and went 2-for-2 with a RBI. Bangs is 1-0 in four appearances on the mound with a 0.69 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13.0 innings pitched.

Not to be outdone at catcher is junior Justin Dalles. Dalles is among the team’s leaders in hitting at .333 (16-for-48) with four HR and 12 RBI. Dalles had Carolina’s game-winning RBI single in the 5-4 win over Mississippi State.

THE STOPPER – Alex Farotto
Senior left-handed pitcher Alex Farotto has been clutch out of the bullpen for the Gamecocks. Farotto improved to 2-0 on the year with a win in relief in Sunday’s 5-4 victory over Mississippi State. Farotto went 3.1 innings and allowed just one run on three hits in the win. He struck out six and walked four as well. The six strikeouts is a season-high. Farotto has factored in all five games he has appeared as he owns three saves along with his 2-0 record. He owns a ERA of 0.77 and has struck out 17 batters in 11.2 innings.

Freshman left-hander Adam Westmoreland picked up his second win of the year in a predetermined split in last Tuesday’s 13-3 win over Old Dominion. Westmoreland also started and had a no-decision vs. Mississippi State in the 5-4 victory. He is 2-0 this year with a 3.38 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.

Freshman left-hander Michael Roth earned his first career win at the collegiate level in the 6-5 victory over Presbyterian. Roth, who is also a position player, pitched three scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win. He allowed just one walk.

Junior left-hander Grimes Medlin picked up his first career save with the final out recorded in the 5-4 win over Mississippi State.

Freshman OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. has showed promising signs through 17 games. Bradley, Jr. is hitting ..288 (19-for-66), has two doubles, a triple, two homers and eight RBI. He also owns a .382 on-base percentage. Bradley, Jr. had a game-tying RBI single in Sunday’s 5-4 win over Mississippi State.

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.