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March 11, 2010

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (8-4) begins a three-game series with Brown (1-3) on Friday night at Carolina Stadium. First pitch for the opener is 7 p.m. with Saturday’s game set for 4 p.m. and Sunday’s tilt at 1:30 p.m. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network with live video broadcast available at

Carolina comes into the contest fresh off a pair of midweek victories against Valparaiso. South Carolina is 5-0 in the all-time series history vs. Brown including a three-game sweep of the Bears in the 2007 season, the last time the two schools met on the diamond. Brown is 1-3 after competition last weekend in Baton Rouge, La. The Bears defeated Pepperdine in their season opener before falling to LSU in two games and losing it second contest vs. Pepperdine.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Blake Cooper (Sr. RHP) 2-0, 3.38 ERA, 18.2 IP, 5 BB, 18 SO
Brown Mark Gormley (Jr. LHP) 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4.0 IP, 5 BB, 2 SO

South Carolina Sam Dyson (Jr. RHP) 1-0, 4.05 ERA, 13.1 IP, 4 BB, 18 SO
Brown Will Weidig (Sr. RHP) 0-1, 21.60 ERA, 3.1 IP, 4 BB, 2 SO

South Carolina Tyler Webb (Fr. LHP) 0-1, 3.60 ERA, 10.0 IP, 5 BB, 10 SO
Brown Rob Wilcox (Sr. RHP) 0-1, 9.53 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO

Junior Whit Merrifield set the school record for consecutive games with a hit as his RBI single in the second inning of Wednesday’s game vs. Valparaiso gave him a streak of 26 straight games, passing the previous mark of 25 set by Greg Keatley in the 1976 season. Merrifield’s streak began on May 9, 2009 at Tennessee. He hit safely for the last 14 games of the 2009 season and has had at least one hit in all 12 games this year for the Gamecocks.

Merrifield is batting .340 (17-for-50) on the year with a team-high 16 runs scored as well as two homers and 11 RBI. He has a slugging percentage of .500 and an on-base percentage of .421.

Wednesday’s win vs. Valparaiso saw three Gamecock pitchers (Jimmy Revan, Matt Price & Parker Bangs) tie a school single-game record for strikeouts as they combined for 18 punchouts in the 7-3 victory over the Crusaders. Revan had a career-high seven, Price struck out a career-high eight batters and Bangs closed the game striking the side out in the ninth inning to tie the record at Carolina.

The 18-strikeout total has been reached seven times, six of which have come under head coach Ray Tanner. The last time the mark had been reached was on March 18, 2006 in a win at Auburn.

South Carolina pitchers have been strong in the strikeout department 12 games in with 133 strikeouts as a staff in 105.2 innings pitched. The strikeout total leads the SEC as of Mar. 11, 2010. Starters Blake Cooper and Sam Dyson lead the way with 18 apiece. Also high on the list is Jimmy Revan (17 SO, 9.1 IP), Nolan Belcher (15 SO, 8.2 IP).

South Carolina is hitting .296 (122-for-412) for the season as a team with 11 home runs, three triples, 25 doubles and 89 runs scored. South Carolina’s pitching staff has a 4.00 ERA and has limited opponents to a .216 batting average on the year. The .216 mark is the lowest among the 12 SEC schools on the year. The squad is fielding .971 with just 13 errors made in the first 12 games. Carolina has played four errorless contests on the year.

Senior catcher Brady Thomas was a spark in the lineup on Wednesday vs. Valparaiso, batting 2-for-3 with a triple and three runs scored in the win. On the year, Thomas is hitting .368 (7-for-19) and has scored seven runs while driving in four as well.

Junior infielder Adrian Morales has hit safely in seven consecutive games and was 2-for-4 with three RBI in Tuesday’s win vs. Valparaiso. Morales has been a versatile player early on in the year with starts at both second and third base. He owns a .333 (9-for-27) batting average and had six runs scored and eight RBI.

Gamecock right-hander Matt Price has earned victories in the last two games he has made relief appearances. Price got a win last Saturday vs. Clemson with one inning of relief and he also earned a win with four scoreless innings and a career-high eight strikeouts on Wednesday vs. Valparaiso.

Price is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and has 13 strikeouts in seven innings pitched.

Junior right-hander Jose Mata had impressive relief performance in Tuesday’s win vs. Valparaiso. The side-armer pitched a career-high six innings and allowed just one run on two hits in the 12-4 victory. Mata earned the win, his first in his career with the Gamecocks. He is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 innings on the year.

Sunday’s game vs. Clemson 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.

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 this past week. 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 .435 (10-for-23) for the season. Bradley also earned the Tom Price Award on Sunday, given to the Gamecock MVP of the South Carolina-Clemson series.

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 10 of 11 games he has played this year. He is batting .405 (15-for-37) with a team-high five doubles as well as six 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.

Cooper now has 23 career wins, one behind Bret Baynham (1978-81) for 13th on the South Carolina career victories list. His 23 career victories tie him for the second highest total of current pitchers in the nation with wins.

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.

Dyson is one of several players in the 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.

South Carolina-Brown Series
Series History: South Carolina leads 5-0In Columbia: South Carolina leads 5-0
Date Winning Team Score Site4/3/1967 South Carolina 7-3 Columbia3/29/2005 South Carolina 7-2 Columbia3/9/07 South Carolina 13-1 Columbia3/10/07 South Carolina 11-2 Columbia3/11/07 South Carolina 9-4 Columbia