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March 25, 2010

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Coach Tanner
Nick Ebert and Parker Bangs

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (17-4, 3-0 SEC) returns to SEC action with a weekend series at Auburn (16-5, 3-0 SEC). First pitch for the series opener on Friday at Plainsman Park is 7:30 p.m. ET with Saturday’s game scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and the series finale slated for 2 p.m. ET. Saturday’s game will be televised live on CSS-TV and on (Time Warner Cable Channel 165 in Columbia). All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at with Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody on the call.

Both teams are coming off strong first weekends in conference play as Carolina swept Tennessee in a three-game series in Columbia and Auburn also won all three of its games in a road series at Georgia. Auburn owns a seven-game winning streak with the Gamecocks entering with an 11-game winning streak as well.

South Carolina leads the all-time series history 32-17 vs. Auburn including two wins in last year’s series in Columbia. Sam Dyson hurled his first career complete game and had eight strikeouts as the Gamecocks defeated Auburn 8-3 on Friday evening. Dyson kept getting stronger as the night went on, as he did not register his first strikeout until the final batter of the fourth inning. He worked hard through the final stretch and retired the last nine batters he faced. After falling on Saturday afternoon, the Gamecocks bounced back in the rubber game with a 10-4 win vs. Auburn. Justin Dalles tallied his first multi-homer game of his Gamecock career and DeAngelo Mack added a homer and three RBI as well.

The Gamecocks have defeated the Tigers in 10 consecutive series dating back to the 1998 season. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner is 27-9 at South Carolina against Auburn in his career.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Blake Cooper (Sr. RHP) 3-0, 2.90 ERA, 31.0 IP, 11 BB, 32 SO
Auburn Cory Luckie (So. LHP) 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 16.2 IP, 7 BB, 19 SO

South Carolina Sam Dyson (Jr. RHP) 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 23.1 IP, 6 BB, 27 SO
Auburn Cole Nelson (Jr. LHP) 4-0, 3.67 ERA, 27.0 IP, 11 BB, 31 SO

South Carolina Tyler Webb (Fr. LHP) 1-1, 2.53 ERA, 21.1 IP, 9 BB, 23 SO
Auburn TBA

Brady Thomas three-run double in the top of the 13th inning broke a 5-5 tie and John Taylor hurled two perfect innings of relief to pick up his first win of the season as South Carolina earned an 8-5 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday night at Clements Stadium. Carolina is now 17-4 on the year with the victory extending the team’s winning streak to 11 games. Georgia Southern is now 11-11 on the year.

The top of the 13th saw Scott Wingo draw a leadoff walk, Jackie Bradley Jr. single and Christian Walker reach on a walk to load the bases and set the stage for Thomas. On reliever Collin Snow’s 1-1 pitch, Thomas drilled a double to left field over the head of left fielder Bryce Dial scoring all three runners. Thomas would reach third base on the throw to the plate as well. Thomas retired Georgia Southern in order in the bottom half to preserve Carolina’s win.

Taylor is now 1-1 for the season as he struck out two of the six batters he faced. Georgia Southern reliever Collin Snow suffered the loss and is now 0-1 for the season. He worked 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on three hits with two strikeouts and four walks.

South Carolina out-hit Georgia Southern 14-10 with Thomas 3-for-7 with four RBI. Jackie Bradley Jr. also had three hits as did Bobby Haney, who tied a career high with his 3-for-6 day at the plate with a pair of RBI. Eric Phillips tallied three hits and A.J. Wirnsberger had two hits as well to lead Georgia Southern.

South Carolina freshman left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb has been named SEC Freshman of the Week as announced by the conference office on Monday afternoon. In his first SEC start, Webb earned his first career win in Sunday’s 4-0 victory over Tennessee. He combined with three Gamecock relievers to limit the Volunteers to one hit on the afternoon and he struck out six batters and tied his season-high with 5.2 innings pitched. He also did not allow a base runner past second base.

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.

South Carolina continued the 2010 season winning all five games last 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 last week saw Carolina pitchers allow three runs or less.

South Carolina pitchers own 3.47 ERA in 191.2 innings. They lead the SEC and are among the nation’s leaders in strikeouts with 224 on the year and just 76 walks allowed. The staff is also allowing opposing hitters to hit just .208 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.

Twelve different pitchers have accounted for 17 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.

Senior catcher Brady Thomas caught all 13 innings of Tuesday’s win at Georgia Southern and had a career day with three hits and four RBI in the 8-5 victory over GSU. Thomas doubled twice and homered in the victory. His three-run double in the 13th inning was the game-winning hit. He set career highs in both hits and RBI.

Thomas is hitting .400 (14-for-35) on the year. Nine of his 14 hits are extra base hits (seven doubles, one triple, one home run). He has nine RBI on the year.

Tuesday’s victory also saw a spark from the bullpen as junior right-hander John Taylor came on in relief with a pair of runners on base and no outs in the 12th inning. Taylor got the next three batters out without allowing a run and after the Gamecocks scored three runs, would close it out in the 13th inning to earn his first career victory.

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 last week with a pair of homers and six RBI. He also tallied a base hit in Tuesday’s win at Georgia Southern. He now has 199 career hits and is one 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 20 of 21 games this season.

He is hitting .352 (31-for-88) on the year with 28 runs scored, five doubles, five homers and 19 RBI. He tied a season-high with three hits at Furman 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 21 games this season.

Junior infielder Scott Wingo has been stellar at the plate as well for the Gamecocks with a season batting average of .333 (17-for-51) as well as an on-base percentage of .533 and a slugging percentage of .608. His on-base percentage is among the SEC leaders.

He drove in a career-high four runs in the at Furman at Fluor Field and tied a career-high with three hits in the 8-3 win vs. Davidson. He was 3-for-9 with a homer in this weekend’s series vs. Tennessee.

In last Saturday’s game vs. Tennessee, 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 .270 average with a pair of homers and 16 RBI.

Junior reliever Parker Bangs earned his first win of the season in last Saturday’s game vs. Tennessee with 2.1 innings of relief. He allowed two runs on two hits with three strikeouts to pick up the win. Bangs also was stellar on Tuesday night vs. Georgia Southern with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

He is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in nine appearances and 10.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 14 and walked five on the year.

In last 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 .378 on the year (17-for-45) with a homer and seven RBI. He had three hits, a run scored and a RBI in Tuesday’s win vs. Georgia Southern.

Gamecock reliever Ethan Carter earned the win in relief last Friday vs. Tennessee 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. He also had 0.2 scoreless innings on Tuesday vs. Georgia Southern. Carter has a 1.04 ERA in seven appearances with 8.2 innings pitched. He has nine strikeouts to two walks as well.

In the 8-3s 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.

Mata has a 3.00 ERA in nine appearances with opponents batting only .200 against him for the season.

Senior right-hander Blake Cooper worked six innings against Brown and allowed two runs on two hits with six strikeouts and four walks to earn the victory. With the victory vs. Brown, Cooper now has 24 career victories and is tied with Bret Baynham (1978-81) for 13th on the South Carolina career victories list.

He had a no-decision last Friday vs. Tennessee and had a season-high eight strikeouts. Cooper’s quality start saw him going six innings and allow two runs, one earned in the eventual 4-2 win over the Volunteers. Cooper’s eight strikeouts brought him to the 200 mark for his career at Carolina.

Senior right-hander Jay Brown earned his first victory of the season in relief of the nightcap of the doubleheader vs. the Brown Bears. Brown settled in with a strong 4.1 innings of relief. He would yield just one run, a solo homer in the seventh inning and struck out four and walked none to earn the victory. Brown is 1-0 with a .355 ERA in 12.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and five walks.

Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth leads the Southeastern Conference in appearances with 13 stints out of the bullpen this season. He is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA, 12 strikeouts in 7.2 innings pitched. He also has earned a pair of saves.

Junior infielder Adrian Morales has been a consistent performer in the lineup through the first part of the season. Morales, who has started at both second base and third base is batting .279 (17-for-61) with 14 runs scored and 16 RBI as well as a .403 on-base percentage.