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April 30, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (27-18, 9-12 SEC) returns to action at home this weekend hosting a three-game series with SEC East foe Vanderbilt (27-17, 10-10 SEC). First pitch on Friday and Saturday is set for 7 p.m. with Sunday’s series finale scheduled for 1:30 p.m. All three games will be televised live on SportSouth and will also be available on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

Carolina sits in fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division and eighth place overall with Vanderbilt just ahead in third place in the division and seventh place overall. There are nine games remaining in the conference schedule beginning Friday night.

South Carolina holds a lead in the all-time series history vs. Vanderbilt. Carolina holds a 40-17 edge over the Commodores although VU has had more recent success with four consecutive series wins over the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s last series victory vs. Vanderbilt came on the road with two wins in 2004 in a three-game set in Nashville.

Pitching Rotation (probable starters)

SC Sam Dyson (RHP, So.) 6-3, 5.04 ERA, 64.1 IP, 28 BB, 58 K
VU Mike Minor (LHP, Jr.) 4-3, 3.33 ERA, 67.2 IP, 20 BB, 78 K

SC Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.)2-3, 4.17 ERA, 54.0 IP, 27 BB, 49 K
VU Drew Hayes (RHP, Fr.) 4-2, 4.22 ERA, 32.0 IP, 20 BB, 42 K


South Carolina went 1-4 last week with a win vs. USC Upstate followed up by midweek loss to Clemson and three losses in a weekend series at Florida .

By the numbers, South Carolina is hitting .302 as a team on the year (472-for-1565) with 72 HR and 301 RBI. The team is fielding .973 (1192 putouts, 450 assists, 46 errors). The pitching staff owns a 5.21 team ERA, 357 strikeouts in 397.1 innings. Opponents are only batting .259 against the squad.

Carolina continues to be strong in the early innings, outscoring opponents 104-45 in the first two innings on the year. South Carolina is 25-3 in games when it out-hits the opponent. Carolina is also 24-10 when hitting at least one home run. South Carolina is 11-5 in games decided by two runs or less.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack was productive at the plate last week. He was the team’s leading hitter in the five games with a .476 average (10-for-21). Five of Mack’s 10 hits were extra base hits (four doubles, one triple). He is also the team’s leading hitter on the year with a .363 average (65-for-179) with 11 HR and 45 RBI. He is hitting .310 in SEC games (26-for-84). Mack also owns a team-high 21 multi-hit games.

Mack picked up the Tom Price Award as Most Valuable Player for Carolina in the four-game 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. 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.

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 owns a 10-game hitting streak and hit .381 (8-for-21) for the week with seven runs scored as well as a pair of home runs.

Merrifield hit his first career grand slam in the 14-6 win over USC Upstate and set a career-high with five RBI. He is hitting .332 (61-for-184) on the year with eight HR and 34 RBI. Merrifield has 18 multi-hit games. His average in SEC play is .307 (27-for-88) with 19 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.

Freshman left-hander Michael Roth was a highlight in last Sunday’s loss to Florida. Roth pitched four innings of scoreless relief and limited the Gators to just two hits. Roth sports a 1-0 record with a 3.21 ERA on the year in 28 innings pitched. He has 24 strikeouts to just 11 walks and opponents are hitting just .228 against him.

Despite a loss on Saturday at Florida, freshman left-hander Nolan Belcher continues to pitch well in conference play. Belcher allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits in 5.1 innings of work. He is 2-3 on the year with a 4.17 ERA. He has 49 strikeouts in 54 innings pitched. Belcher is 2-2 in SEC games with a 3.50 ERA.

Belcher 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. He alllowed just two runs in victories over nationally-ranked Arkansas and nationally-ranked Ole Miss.

South Carolina sophomore right-hander Sam Dyson is catching the attention of several college baseball media outlets. Dyson has been tabbed by Baseball America in their midseason draft update as the No. 36 best draft prospect in the nation. PG Crosschecker also puts him at No. 111 in the country.

He pitched his first career complete game in a 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 6-3 on the year with a 5.04 ERA. He has 58 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. Opponents are batting just .229 against him.

Senior third baseman Andrew Crisp continues to climb up the ladder among several career lists in South Carolina school history. Crisp is now fourth on the singles list (182), sixth on the games played list (220), sixth on the at bats list (778) and ninth on the hits list (242).

He is just three shy of Hank Small for eighth on the USC career hits list and one game shy of tying Trey Dyson for fifth on the all-time games played list. Crisp is hitting .337 (62-for-184) with eight HR and 33 RBI as well as a team-high 15 doubles.

SC All-Time Singles List1)  209 Drew Meyer  2000-01-022)  201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063)  198 Mac White   1991-92-93-944)  182 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) 220 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) 778 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) 242 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09

Sunday’s game-clinching win vs. Auburn featured a multi-homer game from catcher Justin Dalles, his first in a Gamecock uniform . Dalles became 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 .298 (36-for-121) on the year with eight HR and 25 RBI. He is also hitting .313 in SEC games (21-for-67) with four homers in conference play.

Junior first baseman Nick Ebert hit home runs in Tuesday’s win at USC Upstate and Friday’s loss at Florida. He now leads the team with 15 home runs and 49 RBI. His slugging percentage is also strong at .718 and he leads the team with a .471 on-base percentage.

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.

Freshman outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is making his case as both a SEC All-Freshman and Freshman All-America candidate. Bradley, Jr. is one of four players on the squad to have started in all 45 games this year. He is hitting .315 on the year (58-for-184) with seven HR and 29 RBI.

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.

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.

South Carolina has homered in 32 of 45 games this year with a total of 72. The team hit a season-high six homers in the 20-19 victory over Kentucky. Carolina is 24-10 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 .292 (14-for-48) in 28 games played and has made 11 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 .262 (43-for-163) with four HR and 23 RBI on the year. He is also hitting .306 in SEC games.

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 .220 against him. Johnson is sporting a 2-0 record with a 5.82 ERA in 13 appearances. He has hurled 21.2 innings and has struck out 23 batters.