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Aug. 17, 2009


Columbia, S.C. – Several Gamecock baseball players have put their professional baseball careers on hold for the present time and are returning to South Carolina for another season. Juniors Sam Dyson and Parker Bangs and senior Nick Ebert did not sign professional contracts by the designated MLB deadline and will don the Garnet & Black for the 2010 season. In addition, Gamecock signees Adrian Morales, Colby Holmes and Christian Walker have chosen college instead of professional baseball and will enter their first season at South Carolina.

Dyson had been selected in the 10th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s with Ebert chosen in the 32nd round by the New York Yankees and Bangs in the 46th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Morales, a junior college infielder out of Miami Dade CC, was a 45th round choice by the Houston Astros, Holmes, a right-handed pitcher from Conway, S.C., was drafted in the 47th round by the Atlanta Braves and Walker a first baseman/third baseman from Limerick Pa., was a 49th round choice by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dyson was a frontline starter for Carolina in the 2009 season and compiled a 9-4 record with a 5.21 ERA and hurled a team-high 102 innings. He struck out 94 and walked 37. He allowed 64 runs, 59 earned on 92 hits as well. In his two-year career, Dyson owns a 17-4 record and has 138 strikeouts in 152.2 innings pitched.

Dyson’s nine victories along with senior right-handed pitcher Blake Cooper’s (9-4, 4.50 ERA) nine wins last year is tied for the second highest total of victories returning by an individual player in the SEC. Both pitchers along with sophomore left-hander Nolan Belcher give the Gamecocks its entire weekend rotation back for the 2010 season. 30 of 40 victories from last year’s staff return to Columbia this season.

Ebert earned second-team All-SEC honors last year at first base and hit a team-leading 23 HR with 72 RBI. Ebert finished with a .321 batting average (67-for-209) and also compiled 13 doubles. He had a .468 on-base percentage and a .713 slugging percentage. Ebert’s 23 homers tied for the second highest single-season total in Carolina history and is tied for the second highest total by a player in the country that is returning to college.

Ebert returns to the lineup along with four other position starters: Sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.349-11-46) junior outfielder Whit Merrifield (.340-11-49), senior shortstop Bobby Haney (.291-4-30) and junior second baseman Scott Wingo (.196-5-17). Designated hitter/right-handed pitcher Parker Bangs (.328-5-36) also returns along with sophomore outfielder Adam Matthews (.290-5-11), who came on late in the season to start in left field as well as senior catcher Kyle Enders (.261-3-9), who saw time behind the plate. The Gamecocks return 69 total home runs from last year with five position starters back as well.

Bangs served as a two-way player last season and hit .328 (39-for-119) in 40 games with five HR and 36 RBI. He also made 15 appearances on the mound and was 3-2 with a 5.88 ERA and struck out 39 batters in 33.2 innings pitched. Bangs played this summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Chatham Anglers along with teammate Whit Merrifield.

Morales was a second-team 2009 All-Southern Conference recipient in the FCCAA along with a 2008 NJCAA All-Gulf District honoree at Miami-Dade CC. Holmes was a two-time South Carolina AAAA All-State team selection and was rated the No. 5 best high school player in the state of South Carolina by Diamond Prospects. He finished the 2009 season with an 8-3 record and a 0.70 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched. Holmes also was rated by Baseball America as the No. 9 best high school prospect at the 2009 Under Armour Preseason Tournament. Walker hit .588 his senior season and was named to the 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer All-S.E. Pennsylvania team. He also won the 2009 International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Fla. and was rated the No. 1 best high school player in the state of Pennsylvania by PG Crosschecker.

South Carolina owns the longest current streak of NCAA Regional appearances among the 12 SEC schools with 10 straight trips to the tournament dating back to the 2000 season. In that span, Carolina has seven NCAA Super Regional appearances (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007) and three trips to the College World Series (2002, 2003, 2004). South Carolina is one of only seven schools in the nation to make at least seven NCAA Super Regionals in the last 10 years and one of only eight schools in the country to have reached the NCAA Regionals every season in this decade. The program’s 10-year total record of 468-201 is the fourth highest win total among NCAA Division I schools.

South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner is entering his 14th season at the helm with the Gamecocks and his 23rd year as a collegiate head coach. Tanner’s career record is 975-439-3 (.689) with a 580-266 (.686) mark at South Carolina. The .686 winning percentage is third highest in SEC history.