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May 7, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (30-18) returns to action this weekend on the road vs. Tennessee (21-27). The SEC series begins on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday’s game is at 4 p.m. with the Sunday series finale set for 1 p.m. All three games can be heard live on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

South Carolina leads the all-time series 38-32 including two wins last year in the final three games played at Sarge Frye Field in Columbia. Carolina also took two of three games in 2007 in Knoxville, the last two times the teams met at Tennessee.

Carolina sits in third place in the Eastern Division and seventh place overall with a 12-12 conference record. Tennessee is 12th overall with a 7-17 mark in conference play.

Pitching Rotation (probable starters)

SC Sam Dyson (RHP, So.) 7-3, 5.05 ERA, 73.0 IP, 30 BB, 65 K
UT Nick Hernandez (LHP, Jr.)2-5, 5.58 ERA, 69.1 IP, 16 BB, 58 K

SC Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.) 3-3, 4.40 ERA, 61.1 IP, 30 BB, 54 K
UT Ty-Relle Harris (RHP, Sr.) 4-4, 6.18 ERA, 55.1 IP, 21 BB, 58 K

SC Blake Cooper (RHP, Jr.) 6-4, 5.14 ERA, 61.1 IP, 20 BB, 46 K

South Carolina went 3-0 last week with a series sweep of Vanderbilt at Carolina Stadium. The three wins vs. the Commodores marked the first SEC series sweep for Carolina this season. Carolina last swept Vanderbilt in 2003 in three games at Sarge Frye Field and this weekend’s series victory also marked the first time since 2004 that Carolina has earned a series win over Vanderbilt. South Carolina is now 30-18 on the year and 12-12 in the SEC. Carolina sits in sole possession of the third place in the SEC Eastern Division and seventh place overall.

Carolina had its top weekend of the year at the plate in a weekend sweep over Vanderbilt with the team batting .385 (42-for-109). Its previous best weekend series was .371 at Kentucky. Included in that .385 average was 20 extra base hits (10 HR, 1 3B, 9 2B) and 32 RBI. It was also the team’s best pitching ERA in SEC games with the squad finishing at 4.33 on the weekend, tying it with the Auburn series. Carolina allowed just 13 runs on 29 hits in 27 innings.

By the numbers, South Carolina is hitting .307 as a team on the year (514-for-1674) with 82 HR and 333 RBI. At this point last season (48 games), South Carolina was hitting .304 (513-for-1690) and had 88 HR.

The team is fielding .973 (1273 putouts, 485 assists, 48 errors). The pitching staff owns a 5.15 team ERA. 378 strikeouts in 424.1 innings. Opponents are only batting .261 against the squad, second lowest opponents average in the SEC.

Carolina continues to be strong in the early innings, outscoring opponents 110-48 in the first two innings on the year. South Carolina is 28-3 in games when it out-hits the opponent. Carolina is also 27-10 when hitting at least one home run. The Gamecocks also have a record of 19-6 when scoring in the first inning.

South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. has earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors following his performance in the Gamecocks’ weekend sweep vs. Vanderbilt. Bradley, Jr. was stellar at the plate as he hit .643 (9-for-14) in the series with five runs scored, a homer and four RBI. He recorded three hits apiece in all three Carolina victories over the Commodores.

Bradley, Jr. on the year is hitting .338 (67-for-198), third best on the squad, with eight HR and 33 RBI. He is also batting .347 (34-for-98) in SEC games with five HR and 17 RBI as well. In SEC games, Bradley, Jr. is fifth in runs scored (26) as well as ninth in hits (34).

Bradley, Jr. also is the 2008-09 South Carolina Male New Student-Athlete of the Year.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack continues to be solid on the offensive side with a productive weekend vs. the Commodores. Mack was 7-for-12 (.583) vs. Vandy including three home runs. Saturday’s win saw Mack register a career-high in hits with a 4-for-5 day at the plate including a pair of home runs and three runs scored. He also was 2-for-3 with three RBI and a homer in the 11-3 win on Sunday. Mack is all over the SEC batting leaders list. His .377 average (72-for-191) on the year puts him at third in the league. He is also eighth in slugging percentage (.665), ninth in on-base percentage (.467), 10th in RBI (50) and tied for 11th in home runs (14). Mack has been productive in the SEC as well with a .344 batting clip (33-for-96) in conference play as well as five HR and 17 RBI.

Mack picked up the Tom Price Award as Most Valuable Player for Carolina in the four-game Carolina-Clemson series. 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 outfielder Whit Merrifield continues his consistent play at the top of the batting order as he collected two hits in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s wins. Merrifield hit his ninth home run in the 14-5 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. He is up to .332 (65-for-196) in batting average with 11 doubles and three triples as well. He has 37 RBI and is at .404 in on-base percentage.

Merrifield hit his first career grand slam in the 14-6 win over USC Upstate and set a career-high with five RBI. 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.

Junior right-hander Blake Cooper registered complete game victory in 11-3 win over Vanderbilt to help Gamecocks sweep the Commodores. It was his second complete game victory of the season and third of his career. He limited Vanderbilt to three runs on 12 hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six in the win. Cooper is now 6-4 with a 5.14 ERA and has 46 strikeouts in 61.1 innings pitched.

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.

Dyson almost notched a complete game himself as he went 8.2 innings in the 8-5 win over Vanderbilt on Friday night. Dyson allowed five runs on nine hits and struck out seven to pick up the win. He is now 7-3 on the year with a 5.05 ERA and has struck out 65 batters in a team-high 73 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting only .233 against him that is seventh best in the SEC by a pitcher. His seven-win total ties him for third in the conference as well.

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.

Freshman left-hander Nolan Belcher also gave the Gamecocks a quality start with 7.1 innings of work in Saturday’s 14-5 victory over Vanderbilt. Belcher allowed five runs on six hits in 7.1 innings. He improved to 3-3 on the year with a 4.40 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .258 against him, 11th in the SEC.

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 allowed just two runs in victories over nationally ranked Arkansas and nationally ranked Ole Miss.

Senior third baseman Andrew Crisp continues to climb the charts at Carolina. Crisp had three hits in the weekend series and is now tied for eighth on the all-time list with 245 with Hank Small and one shy of Justin Smoak for seventh (246). Crisp also moved past Trey Dyson and is now tied for fourth on the all-time games played list with Jeff Parnell with 223 career games.

Crisp is hitting .328 (65-for-198) with eight HR and 35 RBI on the year. He also leads the team with 16 doubles this season that is tied for fourth best in the SEC.

SC All-Time Singles List1)  209 Drew Meyer  2000-01-022)  201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063)  198 Mac White   1991-92-93-944)  184 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 1990-91-92-93 223 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 Urquhart1995-96-97-986) 792 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 Urquhart1995-96-97-986) 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-987) 246 Justin Smoak 2006-07-088) 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-75 245 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09

Junior third baseman Nick Ebert is right up with DeAngelo Mack in several categories on the SEC leader lists. Ebert had a 6-for-11 (.545) weekend at the plate vs. Vanderbilt and homered in all three games. He reached base nine times with six hits and three walks to raise his on-base percentage to .480 on the year, fourth best in the SEC (was eighth in SEC heading into weekend overall. He tallied three multi-hit games this weekend vs. Vanderbilt with two hits apiece in each win. He also tallied three multi-RBI games with two RBI on Friday, four on Saturday and two on Sunday. He now leads South Carolina and is tied for third in the SEC with 18 home runs.

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.

Sunday’s game-clinching win vs. Auburn featured a multi-homer game from catcher Justin Dalles, his first in a Gamecock uniform. He drove in three runs in the 10-4 victory over Auburn.

Dalles is hitting .291 on the year (39-for-134) with nine home runs, 27 RBI and five doubles as well.

South Carolina has homered in 35 of 48 games this year with a total of 82. The team hit 10 home runs in the weekend series with Vanderbilt. Carolina is 27-10 when hitting at least one home run in a game.

Freshman left-hander Michael Roth was a highlight in the Sunday loss at 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.