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Feb. 25, 2010

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Coach Tanner
Nick Ebert
Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Blake Cooper
Steven Neff
Whit Merrifield

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (3-0) continues its non-conference slate with a three-game series at East Carolina (2-2). First pitch for the opener on Friday is 3 p.m. with Saturday’s contest at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale set for 1 p.m. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network including 107.5 FM “The Game” and at with Derek Scott and Tommy Moody on the call. Live gametracker stats are also available. The Gamecocks are ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation (Baseball America) with East Carolina coming into the series ranked as high as No. 18 nationally (USA Today/ESPN coaches).

South Carolina and the Pirates last met in the 2009 NCAA Regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated East Carolina 12-2 in the second game of the regional with the Pirates coming back to earn 8-6 and 10-9 victories over the Gamecocks to advance to the NCAA Super Regional. The last regular season series was in 2008 when South Carolina won two of three games in Columbia at Sarge Frye Field.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Blake Cooper (Sr. RHP) 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP, 2 BB, 7 SO
East Carolina Seth Maness (Jr. RHP) 0-1, 6.35 ERA, 5.2 IP, 1 BB, 4 SO

South Carolina Sam Dyson (Jr. RHP) 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, 1 BB, 6 SO
East Carolina Kevin Brandt (So. LHP) 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 6.2 IP, 3 BB, 4 SO

South Carolina Steven Neff (So. LHP) 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.2 IP, 0 BB, 0 SO
East Carolina Brad Mincey (Jr. RHP) 0-1, 20.25 ERA, 2.2 IP, 1 BB, 3 SO

South Carolina-East Carolina Series
Series History: South Carolina leads 16-7
In Columbia: South Carolina leads 9-3
In Greenville: East Carolina leads 4-2
Neutral Site: South Carolina leads 5-0

Date    Winning Team    Score   Site4/7/1958East Carolina   5-4 Columbia5/24/74 South Carolina  5-1 Starkville5/21/77 South Carolina  4-1 Columbia3/7/78  South Carolina  4-3 Columbia4/16/78 East Carolina   9-7 Greenville3/3/79  East Carolina   4-3 (10 inn.) Columbia3/4/79  South Carolina  5-0 Columbia5/5/79  South Carolina  3-2 Greenville5/6/79  East Carolina   5-4 (10 inn.) Greenville3/14/80 South Carolina  7-2 Columbia3/10/89 South Carolina  7-4 Columbia5/27/93 South Carolina  6-5 Atlanta3/4/95  South Carolina  8-4 Wilmington2/12/2000South Carolina 12-1    Charleston (S.C.)5/30/03 South Carolina  4-0 Atlanta6/12/04 South Carolina  4-2 Columbia6/13/04 South Carolina  5-3 Columbia2/23/08 South Carolina  22-5    Columbia2/23/08 East Carolina   13-4    Columbia2/24/08 South Carolina  7-6 (11 inn.) Columbia5/30/09 South Carolina  12-2    Greenville5/31/09 East Carolina   8-6 Greenville6/1/09  East Carolina   10-9 (10 inn.) Greenville

South Carolina opened the season with a series sweep of Duquesne. The Gamecocks earned victories of 10-3, 13-3 and 5-3 vs. the Dukes to start the season off with a 3-0 record. South Carolina is now 22-0 in all-time series history vs. Duquesne. It was a strong weekend of attendance at Carolina Stadium with the Gamecocks totaling 21216 for three games for an average of 7,072. Saturday’s game was the top attendance with 7,926 fans at the game.

The Gamecocks have been recognized in several rankings released by collegiate baseball publications and news outlets. Carolina remains No. 10 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25, moved up one spot to No. 12 in’s Top 25 with the team at No. 18 in the NCBWA Top 30 and No. 23 in Collegiate Baseball’s Top 30 as well.

South Carolina’s leading run producer on opening weekend was Jeffery Jones with three homers and 10 RBI in a sweep of Duquesne. He tallied first career multi-homer game including a grand slam and a career-high five RBI in Friday’s 10-3 win over Duquesne. Jones added a homer, double and four RBI in 13-3 win over the Dukes. He also drove in a run in Sunday’s 5-3 victory and finished the weekend with 14 total bases and a 1.167 slugging percentage. His 10 RBI over the weekend was the most by a SEC player.

Freshman third baseman Christian Walker opened up his career at South Carolina with strong weekend at the plate, batting .571 (8-for-14) with a pair of homers, a double, five runs scored and seven RBI. He finished the weekend with a 1.071 slugging percentage and tallied three multi-hit games in the series. He also had a 4-for-5 day at the plate with a homer, double and a RBI as well in 13-3 win vs. Duquesne on Saturday. Walker and Jones combined for 17 of the team’s 27 RBI over the weekend.

South Carolina was stellar on the mound as well with the pitching staff finishing opening weekend with a 3.00 ERA as well as 39 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched. The 39 strikeouts led the SEC after the first weekend of play.

Opening day starter Blake Cooper earned a win after five innings allowing two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts in the 10-3 victory. He now has 22 career victories and is two short of Bret Baynham (24; 1978-81) for 13th on the USC all-time list. Cooper, Nolan Belcher, Matt Price and Colby Holmes combined for 16 strikeouts on Opening Day, just two short of the school single-game record.

Junior right-hander Sam Dyson is one of several players in that nation on the Golden Spikes Award watch list presented by USA Baseball. The award is given to the top amateur player in the country. Dyson was effective in his first start vs. Duquesne as he pitched 3.2 hitless innings in a predetermined split and allowed just one walk while striking out six of the 12 batters he faced … Dyson, Jay Brown, Jimmy Revan, Michael Roth, Ethan Carter and Patrick Sullivan struck out 14 batters in the 13-3 win over Duquesne.

Sophomore left-hander Steven Neff picked up his first career win on Sunday with 1.2 scoreless innings of relief in the 5-3 victory. Neff retired all four batters he faced.

Junior outfielder Whit Merrifield recorded a hit in all three games this weekend to extend a hitting streak that started in the previous season to 17 games. Merrifield was 4-for-11 in the series with six runs scored and an on-base percentage of .500.

Senior catcher and captain Kyle Enders also hit safely in three games and was 4-for-8 at the plate (.500) in opening weekend vs. Duquesne.

South Carolina tied a single-game record for times hit by pitch in the openere vs. Duquesne, as five Gamecocks were hit, the fourth time in school history that it has happened. The last time it happened was ironically enough in a season opener in 2008 vs. East Carolina.

11 Gamecock newcomers made their Carolina debuts this weekend (Robert Beary, Ethan Carter, Brison Celek, Colby Holmes, Evan Marzilli, Jose Mata, Adrian Morales, Jimmy Revan, John Taylor, Christian Walker, Tyler Webb).

South Carolina had the fourth highest attendance in the nation in the first weekend of college baseball. The Gamecocks totaled 21,216 for three games for an average of 7,072. Saturday’s game was the top attendance with 7,926 fans at the game, the fifth highest in the nation over the weekend.

By Average Top 10School      Avg.    Total   #1. LSU      10,992  32,976  32. Arkansas     7,300   21,899  33. Ole Miss     7,171   21,513  34. South Carolina 7,072 21,216  35. Texas    6,020   18,060  36. Mississippi St.5,848 17,545  37. Clemson  5,727   11,454  28. Texas A&M    5,164   10,328  29. Florida State 5,049  15,148  310. East Carolina 4,974 14,922  3
Top Game AttendancesTotal Game (Date)11,588 Centenary at LSU (2/19)11,126 Centenary at LSU (2/20)10,262 Centenary at LSU (2/21)8,004 Ball State at Arkansas (2/20)7,926 Duquesne at South Carolina (2/20)7,713 ULM at Ole Miss (2/20)7,611 ULM at Ole Miss (2/19)7,359 Ball State at Arkansas (2/19)6,910 Duquesne at South Carolina (2/21)6,536 Ball State at Arkansas (2/21)