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April 16, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. –

South Carolina (24-13, 7-8 SEC) returns to SEC action this weekend with a three-game series vs. Auburn (24-13, 7-8 SEC) at Carolina Stadium beginning on Friday night at 7 p.m. Saturday’s game will be televised on SportSouth and is scheduled for a 4 p.m. first pitch with the Sunday series finale to begin at 1:30 p.m. All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

South Carolina and Auburn sit in a three-way tie with Alabama for seventh place overall in the Southeastern Conference. Carolina swept a three-game series at Auburn last year and owns a 30-16 edge in the series history including a 25-8 mark under head coach Ray Tanner. All three games last season on the Plains were decided by three runs or less (7-6, 8-6, 7-6).

Pitching Rotations (probable starters)

SC – Sam Dyson (RHP, So.) – 5-2, 5.21 ERA, 48.1 IP, 24 BB, 46 K
AUB – Grant Dayton (LHP, So.) – 2-3, 4.24 ERA, 51.0 IP, 12 BB, 47 K

SC – Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.) – 2-1, 3.73 ERA, 41.0 IP, 21 BB, 39 K
AUB – Jon Luke Jacobs (RHP, Fr.) – 3-2, 6.00 ERA, 42.0 IP, 19 BB, 32 K

SC – Blake Cooper (RHP, So.) – 4-3, 4.57 ERA, 45.1 IP, 14 B, 35 K

The Citadel scored two runs in the top of the 11th inning and were able to get out of a pair of bases loaded jams in the 10th and 11th innings to defeat South Carolina 5-3 on Wednesday evening at Carolina Stadium. Bryan Altman had a 4-for-6 day at the plate for the Bulldogs and scored the winning run as well.

With the score deadlocked at 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th, South Carolina appeared to be in position for a win. With the bases loaded after a hit by pitch to Nick Ebert, Carolina looked to score. With one out, Bulldog reliever Matt Reifsnider got out of the mess as he induced Jackie Bradley, Jr. into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and to keep the game tied.

The pendulum swung into The Citadel’s favor then as Altman led off with a base hit and was able to score then on a base hit by Sonny Meade. On the single to right centerfield gap, Gamecock center fielder Whit Merrifield could not get a clean field on the ball allowing Altman to score the go ahead run from first base. With the bases loaded and two outs, The Citadel caught a break to score the second run as Trey Thomas was hit by a pitch to score Richard Jones.

South Carolina wasn’t done though and for the second consecutive inning loaded the bases, this time with no outs. Jeffery Jones had a pinch hit single, Andrew Crisp knocked a base hit and Scott Wingo walked to put the Gamecocks in scoring position. Copenhaver came on in relief but not without a scare as pinch hitter Brady Thomas ripped a 2-0 pitch down the line that was snared by first baseman Chris McGuiness for a line drive out stopping a potential double. Copenhaver then was able to get pinch hitter Michael Roth top pop out and Whit Merrifield to ground out preserving a 5-3 win for The Citadel.

Probable Starting LineupPos.    Player  09 Stats (Avg-HR-RBI)   NotesC   Justin Dalles (Jr.)  .330-6-22   Homer and four RBI in 12-10 win over Ole Miss1B  Nick Ebert (Jr.)    .339-13-41  4-for-5 with a homer and five RBI vs. Coll. of Charleston2B  Scott Wingo (So.)  .171-3-11   Fielding percentage of .987SS  Bobby Haney (Jr.)  .252-4-21   First career grand slam vs. Coll. of Charleston3B  Andrew Crisp (Sr.)    .333-8-26   Three hits apiece vs. Coll. of Charleston and The CitadelLF  DeAngelo Mack (Jr.)  .343-10-39  Team leader in batting average/has stolen 7 basesCF  Whit Merrifield (So.)  .320-6-26   3-for-6 with a HR vs. Coll. of CharlestonRF  Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Fr.).318-6-23    Career-high five hits vs. Coll. of CharlestonDH  Parker Bangs (So.)    .300-2-19   Nine-game hitting streak/RBi single vs. The Citadel(note probable starting lineup comes from SID)

South Carolina sits at 7-8 in fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division and in a three-way tie for seventh place heading into this weeknd’s series at South Carolina. Below is the record of South Carolina at the halfway point in SEC action under head coach Ray Tanner.

Year    Halfway Point   Final SEC Record2009        7-8 N/A2008        9-6 15-152007        9-6 17-132006        11-4    15-152005        9-6 16-142004        7-8 17-132003        7-8 19-112002        9-5 21-82001        8-7 17-132000        12-3    25-51999        9-6 15-151998        10-4    19-101997        7-8 13-17

South Carolina has been getting off to the quick start this year outscoring its opponent 95-31 in the first two innings. South Carolina is 14-8 on the year when scoring first in a game including a 15-5 mark when scoring in the first inning. The Gamecocks sport a 22-2 record when out-hitting its opponent

The team is hitting .304 (390-for-1285) on the year with 64 HR and 256 RBI. The team is pitching with a 4.96 ERA in 328.1 innings with 302 strikeouts to 172 walks. Opponents are batting just .252 against the team.

For the second consecutive week, freshman left-handed pitcher Nolan Belcher had the Gamecocks’ top performance on the mound. He Hurled first career complete game in series-clinching victory over No. 14 Ole Miss. Limited Rebels to just one run on nine hits in 8-1 win. Helped South Carolina to series victory, its first in Oxford since 1998, also the last time a road team has a won the series between the Gamecocks and Rebels. Has allowed just two runs in last two starts (17.1 innings of work), both victories over nationally-ranked Arkansas and nationally-ranked Ole Miss. Strikeout total of eight in the contest was second highest this season. First career road win.

Belcher is now 2-1 on the year with a 3.73 ERA in 41 innings pitched. He has 39 strikeouts. His ERA is tied for eighth best in the conference. In SEC games, Belcher is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA.

Sophomore center fielder Whit Merrifield was key in the leadoff role this weekend at Ole Miss with a 5-for-6 day at the plate in the series opener, a 12-10 win over the Rebels. Merrifield’s five hits were a season-high by a Gamecock player and the most since James Darnell tallied five on March, 18, 2008 at College of Charleston. The five hits were a career-high for Merrifield, he was just one shy of the cycle with three singles, a double and a triple.

He is now up to a .320 batting average (49-for-153) and has scored a team-high 41 runs and also leads the squad with 11 stolen bases. His 41 runs scored is eighth best in the SEC. He is also tied for sixth in the league with 49 hits.

Junior first baseman Nick Ebert homered and tallied four hits and five RBI in the 20-6 win over College of Charleston on Tuesday night. He also hit a two-run homer and tallied three RBI in South Carolina’s 9-1 in over the Rebels on Saturday.

Ebert is hitting .339 (38-for-112) with a team-high 13 HR and 41 RBI. He also leads the squad in multi-RBI games with 12.

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.

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.

Senior infielder Andrew Crisp has been stellar at the plate and is among the league’s leaders in several categories. Crisp had three hits apiece in both Tuesday and Wednesday’s games vs. College of Charleston and The Citadel. He is now tied for 10th all-time in South Carolina in hits with 230.

Crisp is batting .333 (50-for-150) with 12 doubles, eight HR and 26 RBI.

SC All-Time Singles List1)  209 Drew Meyer  2000-01-022)  201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063)  198 Mac White   1991-92-93-944)  176 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-985)  172 Greg Jonson 1977-78-79-80    172 Andrew Crisp  2005-06-07-08-09
SC All-Time Games Played List1) 255 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-062) 251 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-043) 236 Mac White 1991-92-93-944) 223 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-935) 221 Trey Dyson 1999-00-01-026) 217 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-987) 212 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09
SC All-Time At Bats List1) 950 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-062) 903 Mac White 1991-92-93-943) 866 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-044) 864 Drew Meyer 2000-01-025) 799 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-986) 766 Chris Boyle 1981-82-83-847) 750 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-938) 744 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08
SC All-Time Hits List1) 303 Mac White 1991-92-93-942) 299 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063) 285 Drew Meyer 2000-01-024) 265 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-045) 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-986) 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-987) 246 Justin Smoak 2006-07-088) 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-759) 231 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-9210) 230 Skeets Thomas 1988-89-90 230 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09

Sophomore Parker Bangs is getting the groove at the plate as he owns a career-best nine-game hitting streak.Bangs is up to .300 with his average (24-for-80) and went 5-for-14 in the Ole Miss series (.357). Bangs hit his second homer of the year in the 7-6 win on Tuesday night vs. Clemson.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack continues to lead the team in hitting with a .343 batting average (49-for-143). He also has 10 HR and 39 RBI on the year.

Mack was 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBI in the 7-6 win vs. Clemson including a game-winning two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Mack’s solo home run last Sunday also snapped Ole Miss starting pitcher Scott Bittle’s streak of 21 scoreless innings.

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 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.

South Carolina has homered in 30 of 37 games this year with a total of 64. The team hit a season-high six homers in the 20-19 victory over Kentucky. Carolina is 22-8 when hitting at least one home run in a game.

THE ACE – Sam Dyson
Sophomore right-hander Sam Dyson has established himself as the ace of the Gamecock pitching staff. Dyson is 5-2 on the year and owns a 5.21 ERA and has a team-high 46 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .223 against him.

Freshman outfielder Adam Matthews hit the first Gamecock inside the park home run in eight years in the 9-1 win last Saturday vs. Arkansas. The last time a Gamecock hit and inside the park home run was Garris Gonce on May 19, 2001 in South Carolina’s 7-6 win over Mississippi State at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Matthews finished 2-for-2 with two RBI in the victory, his first multi-hit game of the season.

Matthews is hitting .365 (12-for-33) in 21 games played and has made seven starts as well. He has three stolen bases. Matthews hit his second home run in Tuesday’s 20-6 win over College of Charleston.

Junior catcher Justin Dalles hit .571 (4-for-7) in the Ole Miss series including a key three-run homer in the 12-10 win over Ole Miss. He drove in five runs in the series. Dalles is hitting .330 (31-for-94) with six HR and 22 RBI on the year. He is hitting a team-best .381 (16-for-42) in SEC games.

Junior shortstop Bobby Haney has been showing off the long ball in the last week with a pair of homers in Saturday’s 8-1 win over Ole Miss and a grand slam on Tuesday vs. the College of Charleston.

He is the fourth Gamecock player this year to tally two homers in one game and the second player to hit a grand slam. Haney is hitting .252 (34-for-135) with four HR and 21 RBI on the year.

Freshman outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. keeps performing at a high level for the Gamecocks. Bradley, Jr. tallied a career-high five hits in a 20-6 win over College of Charleston. He is the second Gamecock player this year to tally five hits in one game.

Bradley, Jr. is at a .318 in average (49-for-154) with six HR and 23 RBI. He also has scored 38 runs.

THE STOPPER – Alex Farotto
Senior left-hander Alex Farotto continues to factor in Gamecock victories as his two innings of work helped Carolina in the 12-10 win at Ole Miss. Farotto has received a decision in 10 of 12 appearances out of the pen this year, sporting a 3-2 record with five saves. He has 30 strikeouts in 23.2 innings; opponents are only batting .202 against him.

It was a strong week on the mound for Blake Cooper, who won both his starts with a pair of victories on the road. The junior right-hander first helped Carolina to a 14-2 victory at the College of Charleston on Tuesday night, then bounced back and started on Sunday and hurled first complete game of the year to help Carolina clinch an SEC series on the road with a 4-2 victory over Kentucky.

Sunday’s complete game victory marked the first complete game by a Gamecock pitcher this year and the second of Cooper’s career. Pitched Sunday’s game in wintry conditions with a wind chill in the 20’s. He limited Kentucky to just two runs on eight hits to earn the win.

On the year, Cooper is 4-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 45.1 innings. He has 35 strikeouts to 14 walks.