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March 22, 2010

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina heads on the road for a Tuesday night non-conference baseball game at Georgia Southern. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the game televised live on CSS-TV. The game can also be heard live on the Gamecock Radio Network and at The Gamecocks are ranked as high as No. 14 by Baseball America as well as No. 18 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 23 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

South Carolina owns a 84-48 career record against Georgia Southern including a 2-1 victory in 10 innings last season in Columbia. Gamecock assistant coach Sammy Esposito served on the GSU staff from 2006-07 before coming to Columbia. This is Carolina’s first trip to Statesboro since head coach Ray Tanner’s first season in 1997, when the Gamecocks defeated Georgia Southern 16-6.

Probable Starting Pitchers Tuesday
South Carolina Nolan Belcher (So. LHP) 2-0, 0.61 ERA, 14.2 IP, 5 BB, 21 SO
Georgia Southern Justin Hess (Fr. RHP) 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7.2 IP, 5 BB, 8 SO

South Carolina continued the 2010 season winning all five games on the week with a pair of midweek victories at Furman and vs. Davidson and a three-game sweep in SEC conference play of Tennessee this past weekend. South Carolina is now 16-4 on the year including a 3-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina owns a 10-game winning streak, the longest winning streak since Carolina won its first 10 games to start the 2005 season. South Carolina swept an SEC opponent to start the season for the first time since 2001 when Carolina defeated Arkansas all three games in Columbia at Sarge Frye Field.

Gamecock pitchers had a strong week as the Gamecocks went undefeated with a pair of shutouts. Four of the five games saw Carolina pitchers allow three runs or less. South Carolina pitchers own 3.53 ERA in 178.2 innings. They lead the SEC in strikeouts with 215 on the year and just 68 walks allowed. The staff is also allowing opposing hitters to hit just .207 on the year, the lowest average by opponents among the 12 SEC schools.

Sunday’s 4-0 victory over Tennessee saw four Gamecock pitchers limit the Volunteers to one bunt hit in the win. The one-hitter was the first by the Gamecocks since Feb. 21, 2009 when Carolina one-hit Duquesne in a 13-0 victory at Carolina Stadium.

Eleven different pitchers have accounted for 16 wins this season for the Gamecocks. Senior right-hander Blake Cooper leads the way with a 3-0 record and a 2.90 ERA on the year with a team-high 31.0 innings pitched. Cooper has 32 strikeouts to just 11 walks, opponents are hitting just .189 against him on the year. Relievers Matt Price and Jose Mata and starter Nolan Belcher also have two victories on the season.

Freshman left-hander Tyler Webb earned his first career win in Sunday’s victory. He struck out six batters and tied his season-high with 5.2 innings pitched. Webb is 1-1 for the season with a 2.53 ERA and has 23 strikeouts to nine walks in 21.1 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are hitting just .176 against him.

Junior Whit Merrifield, who set the school record for consecutive games with a hit safely earlier in the year, is nearing another milestone in a Carolina uniform. Merrifield hit .500 (10-for-20) in five games this week with a pair of homers and six RBI. He now has 198 career hits and is two short of the 200 career hit milestone at Carolina. There are 22 players in school history that have 200 or more career hits. Merrifield homered in both Saturday and Sunday’s wins over Tennessee. He has hit safely in 19 of 20 games this season. He is hitting .357 (30-for-84) on the year with 28 runs scored, five doubles, five homers and 19 RBI. He tied a season-high with three hits at Furman on Tuesday and also tied a career-high vs. Davidson with a pair of doubles. He is the only player at South Carolina to have started all 20 games this season.

Junior infielder Scott Wingo has been stellar at the plate as well for the Gamecocks with a season batting average of .370 (17-for-46) as well as an on-base percentage of .559 and a slugging percentage of .674. His on-base percentage is fourth best in the SEC and his slugging percentage ranks eighth best in the conference. He drove in a career-high four runs in Tuesday’s win at Furman at Fluor Field and tied a career-high with three hits in the 8-3 win on Wednesday vs. Davidson. He was 3-for-9 with a homer in this weekend’s series vs. Tennessee.

In Saturday’s game, Christian Walker’s two-out two-run triple in the bottom of the seventh inning broke a 5-5 tie and Jeffery Jones homered and drove in four runs as South Carolina defeated Tennessee 10-7. Jones is hitting .378 for the season (14-for-37) with four HR and 17 RBI. Walker owns a .279 average with a pair of homers and 16 RBI.

Junior reliever Parker Bangs earned his first win of the season in Saturday’s game with 2.1 innings of relief. He allowed two runs on two hits with three strikeouts to pick up the win. He is 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in eight appearances and 7.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 12 and walked four on the year.

In Friday’s game vs. Tennessee, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s RBI base hit in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and Kyle Enders added a RBI sacrifice fly as well as South Carolina opened SEC play with a 4-2 win over Tennessee. Bradley was making his first start since injuring his thumb in last Saturday’s game vs. Brown. Bradley is hitting .350 on the year (14-for-40) with a homer and six RBI. He has started just 11 games on the year.

Gamecock reliever Ethan Carter earned the win in relief and is now 1-0 on the year. He hurled 1.1 perfect innings of relief with a pair of strikeouts in Friday’s win. Carter has a 1.12 ERA in six appearances with eight innings pitched. He has nine strikeouts to two walks as well.

In Wednesday’s win vs. Davidson, Gamecock reliever Jose Mata would earn the win in relief and is now 2-0 on the year. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and allowed no hits and just one walk while striking out one batter

In Tuesday’s win vs. Furman at Fluor Field, sophomore left-hander Nolan Belcher hurled six scoreless innings to pick up his second win of the season. Belcher allowed just four hits in six innings of work and tallied six strikeouts with just one walk allowed. He combined with Patrick Sullivan, John Taylor and Jordan Propst for the shutout victory.

South Carolina is now 5-0 in all-time games played at Fluor Field with four victories vs. Furman (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010) and one win over Clemson (2010).