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April 23, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (27-15, 9-9 SEC) heads to Gainesville this weekend for a three-game series with Florida (28-14, 10-8 SEC) in conference action. First pitch for Friday’s opener at McKethan Stadium is 6:30 p.m. with Saturday’s game set for 4 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday’s game will be televised live on FSN South with all three games also on the Gamecock Radio Network.

South Carolina leads the all-time series history 35-23 against the Gators and have won eight of the last nine series vs. Florida. Carolina took two of three games from Florida in Columbia last year and also defeated the Gators at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Head coach Ray Tanner is 24-16 all-time vs. Florida.

South Carolina’s roster features three players that hail from the state of Florida; junior catcher Justin Dalles, sophomore pitcher Sam Dyson and junior first baseman Nick Ebert.

Pitching Rotation (probable starters)

SC – Sam Dyson (RHP, So.) – 6-2, 4.87 ERA, 57.1 IP, 25 BB, 54 K
Florida – Anthony DeSclafani (RHP, Fr.) – 4-1, 2.75 ERA, 39.1 IP, 6 BB, 33 K
or – Stephen Locke (LHP, Sr.) – 2-0, 3.24 ERA, 25.0 IP, 4 BB, 19 K

SC – Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.) – 2-2, 4.25 ERA, 48.2 IP, 23 BB, 45 K
Florida – DeSclafani or Locke

SC – Blake Cooper (RHP, Jr.) – 5-3, 4.73 ERA, 51.1 IP, 19 BB, 40 K
Florida – TBA

South Carolina continues to get off to the quick start this year outscoring its opponent 102-35 in the first two innings. South Carolina is 16-8 on the year when scoring first in a game including a 17-5 mark when scoring in the first inning.

The Gamecocks sport a 25-2 record when out-hitting its opponent

The team is hitting .305 on the year (445-for-1458) with 70 HR and 293 RBI as well as 87 doubles. The team is fielding .975 with just 40 errors made. Carolina’s pitching staff owns a 5.01 ERA with 344 strikeouts in 373.1 innings. Teams are batting just .252 against the Gamecocks.

South Carolina sophomore right-hander Sam Dyson pitched his first career complete game in an 8-3 win over Auburn that helped Carolina to series victory over the Tigers. He retired the last nine batters he faced from the seventh to the ninth inning with five retired by strikeout. He also tied a career-high and set a season-high with eight strikeouts in the win.

Dyson is 6-2 on the year with a 4.87 ERA. He has 54 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. Opponents are batting just .217 against him.

Sunday’s game-clinching win vs. Auburn featured a multi-homer game from catcher Justin Dalles, his first in a Gamecock uniform. Dalles is the fifth Gamecock player this year to record two homers in one game. He drove in three runs in the 10-4 victory over Auburn.

Dalles is hitting .315 (34-for-108) on the year with eight HR and 25 RBI. He is also hitting .352 in SEC games (19-for-54) with four homers in conference play.

Freshman outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. had a strong week at the plate last week hitting .524 (11-for-21) with eight runs scored and eight RBI in the five games. Bradley, Jr. is the team’s fifth best hitter on the year with a .320 average (55-for-172). He has seven HR and 28 RBI as well.

Bradley, Jr. was 5-for-10 with five runs scored in the Auburn series. He also was the second Gamecock player this season to record five hits in one game with his five hits in the 20-6 win over College of Charleston on Tuesday.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack picked up the Tom Price Award as Most Valuable Player for Carolina in the Carolina-Clemson series. Mack had two hits and two RBI in the 12-2 loss on Wednesday night. He is leading the team with a .355 average (59-for-166) with 11 HR and 45 RBI.

He hit a two-run homer and also had a RBI single in the 10-4 win over the Auburn Tigers. He also leads the team with 19 multi-hit games.

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 two Sundays ago 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.

Sophomore center fielder Whit Merrifield is getting things done at the top of the order. Merrifield was 9-for-21 (.429) last week with seven runs scored. Merrifield also had his first career grand slam and a career-high five RBI in the 14-6 win over USC Upstate on Tuesday.

He is hitting .333 on the year with seven HR and 33 RBI. Merrifield leads the team with 47 runs scored.

Merrifield was key in the leadoff role the 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.

Senior third baseman Andrew Crisp continues to climb among several career lists in South Carolina school history. Crisp went 3-for-5 in the win at USC Upstate. He is currently 9th on the USC career hits list. He has 238 in a Carolina uniform and is seven behind Hank Small (1972-75) for eighth place.

Crisp is hitting .337 (58-for-172) with eight HR and 33 RBI. He is hitting .347 in SEC games (26-for-75) with five HR and 16 RBI. He had three hits including two doubles and two RBI in the 8-3 win over Auburn. He also had two hits and two RBI in the 10-4 win over the Tigers.

SC All-Time Singles List1)  209 Drew Meyer  2000-01-022)  201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063)  198 Mac White   1991-92-93-944)  178 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 1995-96-97-98 217 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 1981-82-83-84 766 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) 238 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09

Jay Brown of the baseball team won the athletic department’s most prestigious award on Tuesday night, The President’s Award, which was presented to Brown by University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides. Brown has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently pursuing a master’s in public administration. He fought back from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2008 season, and also overcame a serious blood clot diagnosis last fall to contribute to the Gamecock baseball team this spring. Brown is a weekly tutor in the Midlands Reading Consortium at Watkins-Nance Elementary School, while he has also worked with the Harvest Hope Food Bank and volunteered at the Martin Luther King Jr. event in Columbia. He has been twice named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Brown is 3-0 on the year with a 3.51 ERA in 33.1 innings. He has struck out 25 and walked 17. Brown pitched 6.2 innings on Tuesday to pick up the win at USC Upstate.

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 2-2 on the year with a 4.25 ERA in 48.2 innings pitched. He has 45 strikeouts. In SEC games, Belcher is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA.

Junior first baseman Nick Ebert homered and tallied four hits and five RBI in the 20-6 win over College of Charleston on April 14. He also hit a two-run homer and tallied three RBI in South Carolina’s 8-1 win over the Ole Miss Rebels. Ebert is hitting .333 with 14 HR and 44 RBI on the year. He is among SEC leaders in slugging percentage (.727) and on-base percentage (.474).

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.

Sunday’s win over Auburn also featured junior RHP Blake Cooper. The Gamecock right-hander allowed just four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts in six-plus innings of work to pick up the win.

Cooper is 5-3 with a 4.73 ERA.

South Carolina has homered in 31 of 42 games this year with a total of 70. The team hit a season-high six homers in the 20-19 victory over Kentucky. Carolina is 24-9 when hitting at least one home run in a game.

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 .324 (12-for-37) in 24 games played and has made eight 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 shortstop Bobby Haney has been showing off the long ball with a pair of homers in the 8-1 win over Ole Miss and a grand slam vs. the College of Charleston.

Haney is hitting .254 (40-for-153) with four HR and 23 RBI on the year.

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 14 appearances out of the pen this year, sporting a 3-2 record with five saves.

He has 33 strikeouts in 26.0 innings; opponents are only batting .215 against him.

Senior right-hander Curtis Johnson has also been reliable out of the bullpen with opponents batting just .203 against him. Johnson is sporting a 2-0 record with a 4.95 ERA in 12 appearances. He has hurled 20 innings and has struck out 23 batters.