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May 13, 2009

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (34-19, 14-13 SEC) closes out the regular season schedule with a three-game SEC series vs. Georgia (35-17, 15-12 SEC) at Carolina Stadium beginning on Thursday night. Thursday and Friday’s games are scheduled for 7 p.m. with first pitch on Saturday at 1 p.m. All three games will be televised live on SportSouth and can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

The Athletics Department will hold a special presentation and ceremony on Friday in the center field plaza at 6 p.m. located near the main entrance to Carolina Stadium. Fans are encouraged to attend the ceremony. The department will unveil a plaque honoring Sarge Frye and his contributions to Carolina Athletics. Carolina Baseball will also honor the senior class before Friday’s game. Senior Day ceremonies will begin at 6:45 p.m on the field.

South Carolina and Georgia have both clinched spots in this year’s SEC Tournament and will be vying for seeding this weekend. Carolina currently sits in third place in the Eastern Division and in the seventh seed position for the tournament. The Gamecocks are one game behind Georgia for second place in the Eastern Division and the fifth seed. Carolina is also just one-half game behind Arkansas for the sixth seed at this year’s tourney.


On the possible seeding in the SEC Tournament…
“Normally this time of year, last weekend and this weekend, there’s a lot that shakes out. I haven’t spent too much time looking at it other than just trying to be able to get in a position to be able to win tomorrow.”

On the possibility of hosting a regional…
“I think that we’re on the outside looking in as far as a host opportunity is concerned but we’ve played pretty well in the last couple weeks and it would be great for us to be able to win this series going into Hoover. I think that would put us in the best position we’ve been in all year from a standings perspective and how we feel about our team, so we’d love to have a great weekend.”

On approaching the Georgia offense…
“I think it’s one of those situations that in our league if you play well, you have a chance and if the other team plays well, it’s a barn burner. If you don’t play well, you don’t have much of a chance to win. We’re playing a Georgia team who has hit a few bumps in the road. They had a big win last night over Georgia Tech, but they’ve faced reality a little bit in the last few weeks, but they’re a great club. They’ve got power in (Rich) Poythress, who was chasing the triple crown there for a while and Dean Weaver out of the bullpen. They’ve just got a lot of weapons and that’s why they were ranked number one in the country a few weeks ago.”

On Georgia’s head coach, David Perno, being optimistic about his team…
“I know Coach Perno pretty well and we talk a lot, really about our teams and the other teams. I think we’re both vey much realistic at times. I think you’re always cautious a little bit about your team and you’re protective, but he does have great personnel. They probably deserved to be number one when they were. I’ll probably disagree with him there because they had earned that. They had played well enough. They’re still a very good club. They’ve got more experience than we do. We’re playing at home and we’ve played pretty good lately. Hopefully we’ll put together a pretty good weekend.”

On being relaxed knowing USC has clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament…
“Last year, we had to win two out of our last three the last weekend to get to Hoover, against Tennessee. That’s a lot to have on your shoulders. These guys have clinched by virtue of the two wins last weekend at Tennessee, so hopefully we’ll be relaxed and come out and play some great baseball.”

On looking to improve seeding in the SEC Tournament and post-season play…
“There’s no question about it. If you can have a good weekend now and you can play deep into the tournament in Hoover then you are posed to make a run, that’s what you gear up for. We qualified for Hoover and we’d like to think that we can get into the NCAA and then it’s a new season. You are really just trying to build a little momentum. I think we do it one game at a time, I don’t think we look too far ahead. We haven’t done that all year, we’ve been very much realistic about what we’ve done and we’ve met about it, talked about it and we try to get better as we go and we’ve been a little bit better the last two weeks.”

On the new stadium and the selection committee…
“I don’t know that in this day and age it will have anything to do with it. I think more so than ever, seeds and opportunities to host is based on merit more than ever. I think the NCAA selection committee has done that much. Certainly with this facility, it would be enticing if we could get in that position. Again, we’re on the outside looking in. If things were to fall the way need them to in the next couple weeks than who knows, maybe we’ll get a little consideration.”

On playing the last series knowing the team has made it to the SEC tournament…
“We’re going to play it like it’s the last one of the year. We played that way yesterday against USC-Upstate. I wasn’t holding anybody back; I wasn’t worried about what’s going to happen in the future, I was just trying to win today. Tomorrow we’re going to try to do the same thing. We’re going to just try to play as hard as we can and win and not look too far ahead. Just try to win the game at hand.”

Pitching Rotation (probable starters)ThursdaySC  Sam Dyson (RHP, So.) 7-4, 5.70 ERA, 79.0 IP, 31 BB, 68 KGA  Trevor Holder (RHP, Sr.)7-3, 4.73 ERA, 70.1 IP, 25 BB, 55 K
FridaySC Nolan Belcher (LHP, Fr.)3-3, 5.48 ERA, 64.0 IP, 34 BB, 55 KGA Alex McRee (LHP, Jr.) 4-2, 4.35 ERA, 51.2 IP, 38 BB, 52 K
SaturdaySC Blake Cooper (RHP, Jr.) 7-4, 4.74 ERA, 68.1 IP, 24 BB, 51 KGA Justin Grimm (RHP, So.) 2-3, 4.36 ERA, 64.0 IP, 21 BB, 62 K
Probable Starting LineupPos. Player 09 Stats (Avg-HR-RBI) NotesC Justin Dalles (Jr.) .304-10-31 6-for-12 series at Tennessee with a homer and four RBI
1B Nick Ebert (Jr.) .327-18-60 Among SEC leaders in slugging (.713) and on-base (.472)
2B Scott Wingo (So.) .186-3-13 Scored four runs in weekend series at Tennessee
SS Bobby Haney (Jr.) .270-4-25 3-for-10 with three runs scored at Tennessee this weekend
3B Andrew Crisp (Sr.) .338-10-47 Has 11 RBI in last three games played/leads SEC in doubles (20)
LF DeAngelo Mack (Jr.) .374-14-56 14-game hitting streak/tied for lead in SEC in hits (79)
CF Whit Merrifield (So.) .341-11-44 7-for-16 series at Tennessee/five hits in 15-12 win over UT
RF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Fr.).347-9-40 3-for-3 with two RBI in game one of DH vs. Upstate
DH Parker Bangs (So.) .296-4-32 Three-run homer in Saturday's 15-12 win over UT

Andrew Crisp tied his career-high with four RBI on a pair of doubles and starting pitcher Adam Westmoreland allowed just two runs in 5.1 innings of work as South Carolina defeated USC Upstate 9-2 in game two of a doubleheader to sweep the twin bill on Tuesday evening at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks also earned a 6-3 win earlier in the day over the Spartans. Both games were seven inning contests.

On the year, Carolina is hitting .310 (572-for-1843) with 90 HR as well as 382 RBI. Carolina is also second overall in the SEC in slugging percentage (.529) second in hits (572), second in doubles (113) and fourth in home runs (90). The team’s .310 average is fifth best in the SEC with its .302 average in conference games also fifth best in the league.

Several Gamecocks are among the SEC leaders in offensive and defensive categories. Listed below are the Gamecock players that are among the top 10 in overall games. Players listed below include freshman outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., junior pitcher Blake Cooper, senior third baseman Andrew Crisp, sophomore pitcher Sam Dyson, junior first baseman Nick Ebert, senior pitcher Alex Farotto, junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack and sophomore outfielder Whit Merrifield.

South Carolina had another solid series at the plate batting .328 (39-for-119) vs. the Volunteers with seven homers and 34 RBI as well as 35 runs scored. The Carolina offense has been on a tear with seven consecutive games with double-digit hits. The team is hitting .351 (94-for-268) in its last seven games with 73 runs scored. Carolina has won five of those last seven contests.

South Carolina junior right-hander Blake Cooper won his second straight start and improved to 7-4 on the year with victory in Sunday’s series clinching win over Tennessee. It was arguably his top start of the year as he allowed just one run on five hits to pick up the victory. He has allowed just four earned runs in the last 16 conference innings he has pitched and improved his career win total to 19 at Carolina.

Cooper registered a 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 7-4 on the year with a 4.74 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched.

South Carolina sophomore Whit Merrifield has been on a tear at the plate as of late. He was a combined 7-for-11 (.636) in Carolina’s two victories at Tennessee over the weekend. He tied a career-high for hits with a 5-for-6 day at the plate in the Gamecocks 15-12 comeback win over the Volunteers. His one-out RBI double in the ninth inning tied the game and helped propel Carolina to eventual win. He finished with four RBI in the game and came back on Sunday and helped Carolina clinch the series with 2-for-5 day at the plate. He homered for second consecutive day, an inside the park home run, the first of his career, also drove in three runs.

Merrifield is batting .341 (75-for-220) on the year with 11 HR, 44 RBI as well as 14 doubles and a team-high 62 runs scored. He is third in the SEC in runs scored and is fifth overall in hits. He is also hitting .328 in league games.

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. He was just one shy of the cycle with three singles, a double and a triple.

Junior outfielder DeAngelo Mack owns a 14-game hitting streak and is batting .374 (79-for-211) on the year with 14 HR and 56 RBI. He is third overall in batting average. The Gamecock outfielder is also sixth in the SEC in on-base percentage (.468) and 10th in slugging percentage (.649). He finished 4-for-15 with three runs scored and five RBI at Tennessee in this weekend’s games. Mack also leads the team with 25 multi-hit games and is second on the squad with 17 multi-RBI games.

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.

Freshman outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is continuing his solid first season. Bradley was 3-for-3 in game one of a doubleheader vs. USC Upstate, a 6-3 win.

Bradley hit a key three-run homer in the first inning on Sunday that put the Gamecocks out in front in 15-6 win over Tennessee. He tied his career-high with three RBI in the win on Sunday and hit safely in all three games and extended his hitting streak to seven games. Bradley is at .338 (71-for-210) on the year with nine HR and 37 RBI. He is also second highest on the team in batting average in conference games with a .345 average (38-for-110) with six HR and 21 RBI.

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

Carolina has received a boost recently with the bat and arm of Parker Bangs. The Gamecock sophomore hurled 4.2 innings in the 6-3 win over USC Upstate and did now all an earned run. He is 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28.1 innings pitched. Bangs also doubled in two runs in the 9-2 win over USC Upstate in the nightcap. He is now hitting .296 on the year with four HR and 32 RBI.

Saturday’s 15-12 comeback win over Tennessee had several heroes including sophomore Parker Bangs. The Gamecock utility player hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, came on in relief in the bottom half of that frame and hurled two perfect innings of relief and struck out all six batters he faced and got the Gamecocks started off on the right foot in the ninth inning of the comeback with a leadoff single.

Senior Andrew Crisp continues to climb the charts in several categories at Carolina. Crisp hit a three-run homer in game one vs. USC Upstate and was 2-for-4 with four RBI in the nightcap. Crisp now leads the SEC with 20 doubles on the year.

Crisp was 6-for-15 (.400) in last weekend’s series at Tennessee. His six hits moved him up to sixth all-time at Carolina at 251, passing Mike Curry, Justin Smoak and Hank Small this weekend. Now at 254, Crisp is 11 hits shy of Derick Urquhart (265) and Landon Powell (265) for fourth on the all-time list. He also passed Jeff Parnell on the all-time games played list and is fourth at Carolina with 228 career games, eight shy of Mac White (236) for third place.

Crisp is hitting .338 (74-for-219) on the year with 10 HR and 47 RBI. He had a grand slam home run in the 15-6 win on Sunday.

SC All-Time Singles List1)  209 Drew Meyer  2000-01-022)  201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063)  198 Mac White   1991-92-93-944)  187 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) 228 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) 813 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 2001-02-03-04 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-986) 254 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 3.58 ERA in 37.2 innings. He has struck out 28 and walked 18.

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. Dyson almost notched a complete game 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 7-4 on the year with a 5.70 ERA an has struck out 68 batters in a team-high 79 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting only .239 against him, that is eighth best in the SEC by a pitcher. His seven-win total ties him for fourth 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 gave the Gamecocks a quality start with 7.1 innings of work in the 14-5 victory over Vanderbilt. Belcher allowed five runs on six hits in 7.1 innings.

He is 3-3 on the year with a 5.48 ERA.

Belcher hurled first career complete game in series-clinching victory over No. 14 Ole Miss. He limited the 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.

Junior third baseman Nick Ebert is right up at the top in several categories on the SEC leader lists. Ebert is hitting .327 (56-for-171) with 18 HR and 60 RBI on the year including a .472 on-base percentage.

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. He tallied three multi-hit games 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.

Junior catcher Justin Dalles had a good weekend at Tennessee as he hit .500 (6-for-12) with a homer, four RBI and five runs scored. Dalles went back-to-back with Jackie Bradley, Jr. in the first inning of the 15-6 win over the Volunteers.

Dalles is hitting .304 on the year (45-for-148) with 10 HR and 31 RBI. He also has a .326 average with six HR and 18 RBI in SEC games.

South Carolina has homered in 40 of 53 games this year with a total 90. The team hit 10 home runs in the weekend series with Vanderbilt and seven home runs at Tennessee. Carolina is 30-10 when hitting at least one home run in a game. Five Gamecocks have reached double digits in home runs; Nick Ebert (18), DeAngelo Mack (14), Whit Merrifield (11), Andrew Crisp (10), Justin Dalles (10).

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 4.50 ERA on the year in 30 innings pitched. He has 27 strikeouts to just 12 walks and opponents are hitting just .257 against him.

Junior shortstop Bobby Haney has had a solid second half of the season and raised his season batting average to .270 with four HR and 25 RBI. He is hitting .304 (28-for-92) in SEC games as well.

The team is fielding an SEC-best .974 (1393 putouts, 525 assists, 52 errors) and did not commit an error the entire weekend at Tennessee. Carolina’s pitching staff is allowing just a .263 average by opponents, that is the third lowest average in the SEC overall.

Carolina continues to be strong in the early innings, outscoring opponents 120-54 in the first two innings on the year. South Carolina is 32-4 in games when it out-hits the opponent. Carolina is also 30-10 when hitting at least one home run . The Gamecocks also have a record of 22-7 when scoring in the first inning.

THE STOPPER – Alex Farotto
Senior left-hander Alex Farotto pitched one scoreless inning of relief and picked up a save in Saturday’s 15-12 win over Tennessee. Farotto is now 3-2 on the year with a 4.82 ERA and seven saves as well in 17 appearances. He has 34 strikeouts in 28.0 innings and opponents are batting just .220 against him.