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March 8, 2010

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (6-4) returns to action on the baseball diamond Tuesday night beginning a two-game series at Carolina Stadium against Valparaiso (3-9). First pitch on Tuesday is 7 p.m. with Wednesday’s contest also slated for 7 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with Derek Scott and Tommy Moody on the call with a live video broadcast also available at South Carolina is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25 as well as No. 23 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll. Tuesday is one of nine home games in the next two weeks at Carolina Stadium.

Valparaiso is coached by former MLB player Tracy Woodson, who lettered at NC State from 1982-84 when South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner was an assistant on the Wolfpack staff. Woodson played for Sam Esposito, the father of current Gamecock assistant Sammy Esposito. Woodson was the ACC Player of the Year in 1984 and earned All-America honors. Woodson played from 1987-89 for the Los Angeles Dodgers and 1992-93 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Nolan Belcher (So. LHP) 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7.0 IP, 2 BB, 11 SO
Valparaiso Bryce Shafter (Jr. RHP) 1-0, 2.95 ERA, 18.1 IP, 14 BB, 16 SO

South Carolina Jimmy Revan (So. LHP) 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 5.1 IP, 4 BB, 10 SO
Valparaiso Will Robinson (Jr. RHP) 0-3, 11.25 ERA, 16.0 IP, 7 BB, 19 SO

Sunday’s game set a new attendance record at Carolina Stadium with 8,214 fans in Columbia. This was the first season in a new format for the South Carolina-Clemson series. Each team hosted a game with a third contest held this season at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. The total attendance for the three games was 21,665 for an average of 7,221 fans. South Carolina currently ranks second in the nation in attendance by average with an average of 6,929 fans in five contests.

Junior Whit Merrifield has hit safely in all 10 games this year and has a hitting streak of 24 games that goes back to last season. He is now one short of the school record for consecutive games with a hit, 25, set by Greg Keatley in the 1976 season. He was productive in Saturday’s 7-5 win over the Tigers batting 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBI. He also hit a grand slam in the 15-0 win over Presbyterian on Wednesday. Merrifield is hitting .333 (14-for-42) on the year with 14 runs scored, a homer and eight RBI along with three stolen bases.

South Carolina’s starting lineup saw the return of sophomore Jackie Bradley Jr., who made his first start on Wednesday vs. Presbyterian and started all four games at centerfield. Bradley hit .500 (8-for-16) this week with a homer, four runs scored and four RBI. Bradley went 3-for-4 with a homer, two runs scored and four RBI in the 7-5 win over Clemson. His four RBI vs. Clemson was a new career high. He is hitting .529 (9-for-17) for the season. Bradley also earned the Tom Price Award on Sunday, given to the Gamecock MVP of the South Carolina-Clemson series. He has a five-game hitting streak.

The 7-5 win vs. Clemson saw several top performances by the Gamecock bullpen. Gamecock left-hander Jimmy Revan worked two scoreless innings and struck out four. Right-handed reliever Matt Price earned the win in relief with one inning of relief with a pair of strikeouts. Revan, Price and Sam Dyson tallied 13 strikeouts to three walks in the contest. Left-handed reliever Michael Roth earned his first career save recording the final out of the victory.

The 15-0 win over Presbyterian was Carolina’s first shutout of the year. Gamecock starter Nolan Belcher combined with four relievers for a two-hit shutout. Belcher was dominant on the hill for the Gamecocks with five scoreless innings and just one infield hit allowed. He struck out seven and walked one to earn his first win of the year. Matt Price also struck out one in one inning of relief with Parker Bangs striking out two batters in his stint. Freshmen Ethan Carter and Colby Holmes closed the game out with an inning apiece as well. South Carolina pitchers had 10 strikeouts to two walks on the afternoon.

Carolina had 18 hits in the win vs. Presbyterian, a season high. The 18 hits included eight doubles and a pair of homers. The eight doubles tied for the fourth highest mark by a team coached by Ray Tanner in South Carolina history.

Senior catcher Kyle Enders has hit safely in all nine games he has played this year. Enders is batting .438 (14-for-32) with a team-high five doubles as well as five RBI and six runs scored. Enders was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI in the 4-3 loss at Clemson on Friday night. His three-hit performance on Friday night tied a career-high in hits. He has four multi-hit games for the year.

Junior infielder Scott Wingo was 2-for-3 with four runs scored and was twice hit by pitch in the 15-0 win vs. Presbyterian. He is now tied for the school career record with 34 hit by pitches along with Garris Gonce (2001-02) and Michael Campbell (2003-04-05-06).

Despite a no-decision on Friday at Clemson, senior right-hander Blake Cooper continues to perform well on the mound. Cooper went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walks vs. the Tigers. He is 2-0 on the year in 18.2 innings with 18 strikeouts and five walks allowed and a 3.38 ERA.

Junior right-hander Sam Dyson recovered from a slow start on Saturday to pitch a solid 5.2 innings in the 7-5 win vs. Clemson. He struck out seven, walked two and allowed four runs on five hits. Dyson is 1-0 on the year with a 4.05 ERA and has 18 strikeouts in 13.1 innings. Opponents are batting .152 against him.

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South Carolina is hitting .297 (104-for-350) for the season with 10 home runs, a pair of triples, 21 doubles and 70 runs scored. South Carolina’s pitching staff has 104 strikeouts in 87.2 innings pitched with opposing teams batting just .239 on the year. The squad is fielding .978 with just eight errors made in the first 10 games. Carolina has played four errorless contests on the year.