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May 29, 2009

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Greenville, N.C. – All nine South Carolina position starters recorded at least one hit and the Gamecocks scored eight runs in the middle innings on the way to an 11-3 victory over George Mason in the opening game of the 2009 NCAA Greenville Regional on Friday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Parker Bangs, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Nick Ebert all homered in the Gamecock victory and starting pitcher Sam Dyson picked up his ninth win of the season with seven innings of work for Carolina. The Gamecocks are now 39-21 on the year while the loss drops George Mason to 42-13 for the season. South Carolina returns to action on Saturday night vs. East Carolina. First pitch is tentatively set for 6 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at East Carolina defeated Binghamton 11-7 on Saturday morning.

South Carolina pounded out 17 hits on its way to the victory. Bangs, Bradley and Bobby Haney tallied three hits apiece to lead Carolina. Bangs and Haney both tied career-highs on the afternoon in hits. Justin Dalles and Whit Merrifield also tallied a pair of hits apiece for the Gamecocks. George Mason’s leading hitter was Mark Hill, who went 2-for-4.

Sam Dyson went seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits to improve to 9-4 on the year. He struck out five and walked four. George Mason starting pitcher Mike Modica went five innings and allowed six runs, four earned, on 10 hits with three walks and two strikeouts to suffer the loss. He is now 11-2 on the year.

George Mason broke ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Chris Henderson drew a one-out walk and after a Scott Krieger single would score on Justin Bour’s RBI double down the left field line. However, that would be the only run for Mason in the inning as Dyson got out of a bases loaded jam with a 6-3 inning ending ground out double play off the bat of Shane Davis.

“I thought the first inning was huge but then (Dyson) settled down and gave us some quality innings,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “He battled for us. He hasn’t really pitched well on the road but he battled for us today.”

Carolina would get to Modica in the bottom of the fourth inning batting around to score four runs against the Patriots. Bradley led off with a single and with one out advanced to second base on a fielding error by shortstop Brent Weiss. On the play, Weiss threw wide of second base in an attempt to nab Bradley with the ball going into right field allowing Bradley to score and Andrew Crisp advancing to second base. On the scoreboard, Carolina took the lead with the next batter as Bangs launched a two-run homer to right field. Bangs knocked the 2-1 pitch from Modica for his fifth home run of the season. Carolina wasn’t done there though as Haney double and scored on a two-out RBI single from Merrifield to give Carolina a 4-1 lead.

The lead extended to 6-1 in the fifth inning as Carolina loaded the bases with Merrifield again coming through in the clutch with a two-out RBI single up the middle to score Justin Dalles and Bangs. South Carolina added two more in the top of the seventh inning as Bradley knocked a two-run homer to right field for his 10th home run of the season. Bradley is now the sixth Gamecock player this year to have reached double digit home runs.

“I was really proud of our guys for tacking on some runs in the middle innings,” said Tanner. “We had some two out runs. Those things end up being big for you during the course of the weekend.”

Dyson set down George Mason and did not allow a run from the second-sixth as Carolina built a seven-run lead. The Patriots would finally get back on the scoreboard in the seventh inning with two runs as Henderson drove in a pair with a double. With runners on first and second base and two outs, Dyson ended the threat with a strikeout on Ryan Soares in a 14-pitch at bat to close out the frame.

Nick Ebert put Carolina back out in front by five in the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run, his 23th of the year. Ebert’s blast was to left center and ties him for the second highest total in school history with Justin Smoak (2008) and Joe Datin (1985).

With a pair of runners on first and second and a 1-2 count, Andrew Crisp’s at-bat in the bottom of the seventh was delayed as lightning and rain entered the Greenville area. After a one hour and 18 minute delay, Crisp returned to the plate against George Mason reliever Ryan Brecko and grooved the next pitch he saw for a double to left center scoring both Bradley and Dalles and giving the Gamecocks the 11-3 edge.

Carolina reliever Curtis Johnson hurled two innings of relief to close out the victory. The Gamecocks are set to start junior RHP Blake Cooper on Saturday.

George Mason vs. Binghamton – 2 p.m.
South Carolina vs. East Carolina – 6 p.m.