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April 8, 2010

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Coach Tanner
Feature on Blake Cooper

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (23-6, 7-2 SEC) heads back on the road with a three-game SEC series at Vanderbilt (25-6, 5-4 SEC) beginning on Friday night. First pitch for the opener is 7 p.m. ET with Saturday’s game scheduled for 3 p.m. ET and Sunday’s finale at 2 p.m. ET. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock Network and at with Andy Demetra and Tommy Moody on the call.

This week, South Carolina is ranked No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 11 by Baseball America and No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll. Vanderbilt is ranked No. 19 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll, No. 20 by Baseball America and No. 23 by Collegiate Baseball.

Carolina leads the all-time series history 43-18 including a sweep of the Commodores at Carolina Stadium last year. The Commodores did defeat the Gamecocks at the SEC Tournament in the last meeting between the two schools. Vanderbilt is 20-1 on the year in home games with the Gamecocks 5-4 for the season in road contests.

South Carolina sits tied at the top of the SEC standings with LSU with a 7-2 record. Carolina is one game ahead of Florida (6-3) in the SEC Eastern Division and two games ahead of Vanderbilt (5-4).

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Blake Cooper (Sr. RHP) 5-0, 3.11 ERA, 46.1 IP, 16 BB, 44 SO
Vanderbilt Sonny Gray (So. RHP) 4-3, 2.33 ERA, 46.1 IP, 21 BB, 46 SO

South Carolina Sam Dyson (Jr. RHP) 2-1, 4.79 ERA, 35.2 IP, 6 BB, 39 SO
Vanderbilt Jack Armstrong (So. RHP)4-0, 3.93 ERA, 36.2 IP, 14 BB, 26 SO

South Carolina TBA
Vanderbilt Taylor Hill (Jr. RHP) 3-2, 3.95 ERA, 41.0 IP, 14 BB, 31 SO

Friday’s matchup between Cooper and Gray features the two leaders in the Southeastern Conference in innings pitched. Both have made seven starts and have pitched 46.1 innings apiece. Cooper sports a 5-0 record with a 3.11 ERA with Gray at 4-3 with a 2.33 ERA.

Nick Ebert was 2-for-3 with three RBI and homered for the second consecutive game and freshman right-hander Colby Holmes worked into the sixth inning to earn his second win of the year as South Carolina defeated College of Charleston 6-3 on Wednesday night at Carolina Stadium.

Holmes was effective in five-plus innings allowing two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks. He is now 2-0 on the year. Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth hurled 1.2 perfect innings of relief to pick up his third save of the season. College of Charleston starter Jake Zokan suffered the loss and is now 2-1 on the year. He worked 2.2 innings and allowed four runs on five hits with three strikeouts.

Carolina out-hit College of Charleston 9-7 in the game. Ebert and Bangs each had two hits. Whit Merrifield also extended his hitting streak to 16 games and has hit safely in 28 of 29 games on the year. Matt Leeds and Baker Knox were each 2-for-4 to lead College of Charleston.

Carolina went 3-1 last week with a win over nationally ranked The Citadel, 10-1, and two of three wins over the weekend vs. Mississippi State. South Carolina has now defeated Mississippi State in five consecutive series in Columbia dating back to the 2000 season. Carolina leads the all-time series 30-25.

The Gamecock pitching staff continues to succeed on the mound. The pitching staff has a 3.46 ERA, second best in the SEC and leads the conference in lowest opponents batting average (.217) and strikeouts (294) in 262.2 innings pitched.

The staff has allowed five runs or less in 24 of the team’s 29 outings on the year. South Carolina is 21-3 for the season when allowing five runs or less.

South Carolina is batting .305 (303-for-995) as a team with a .409 on-base percentage and a .486 slugging percentage. The Gamecocks are fielding .972 on the year as well. The Gamecocks are 19-2 on the year when out-hitting its opponent and 18-2 when hitt ing at least one home run.

Senior right-hander Blake Cooper continues to excel on Friday night for the Gamecocks. Cooper went 8.1 innings, his longest outing of the season in Friday’s 10-2 win over Mississippi State. He allowed two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. For the season, Cooper is 5-0 with a 3.11 ERA in 46.1 innings pitched with 44 strikeouts and 16 walks allowed. Opponents are batting just .209 against him. He is tied in the SEC rankings with Sonny Gray of Vanderbilt in innings pitched, ranks second in victories, fifth in opponents batting average, tied for sixth in strikeouts and 12th in ERA. He is now tied with Rich Pratt (1990-93) for 11th on the All-Time victories list with 26 career wins.

South Carolina Career Victories List    45  Kip Bouknight   1998-01        (45-12)    36  Tim Lewis   1973-76                (36-6)    35  Aaron Rawl  2002-05        (35-15)    34  Earl Bass   1972-75                (34-3)    34  Greg Ward   1972-75                (34-13)    31  David Marchbanks2001-03        (31-8)    31  Matt Threehouse 1989-93        (31-14)    31  Dennis Lubert   1979-82                (31-9)    30  Mike Cook   1983-85                (30-8)    27  Jason Haynie    1993-96        (27-18)    26  Blake Cooper  2006-09        (26-12)    26  Rich Pratt  1990-93        (26-16)

Junior Whit Merrifield continues to be one of the top bats in the Southeastern Conference. Merrifield was 6-for-16 (.375) in this weekend’s series vs. Mississippi State. He has hit safely in 28 of 29 games this year and currently owns a 16-game hitting streak. He is the only Gamecock player to have started all 29 games and is batting .350 (43-for-123) with six HR and 22 RBI. He has a .426 on-base percentage and a .561 slugging percentage. Merrifield leads the SEC in runs scored (39) is tied for seventh in hits (43) and is eighth in total bases (69). He is 14-for-37 (.378) in SEC games.

Merrifield now sits tied for 16th on the all-time hits list at Carolina with 211. He is also approaching the Top 10 for runs scored and singles at Carolina. Earlier this year Merrifield set the school record for consecutive games with a hit. He hit safely in 26 straight games, 14 at the end of 2009 and the first 12 games of 2010

Runs Scored    223 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98    215 Mike Curry  1996-97-98    212 Drew Meyer  2000-01-02    209 Mac White   1991-92-93-94    188 Justin Smoak  2006-07-08    182 Jeff Parnell    1990-91-92-93    181 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06    176 Landon Powell    2001-02-03-04    174 Garrett Carter  1985-86-87-88    166 Ryan Bordenick  1995-96-97-98    166 Jim Curl     1978-79-80-81-------------------------------------------------    164 Whit Merrifield    2008-09-10
Singles 209 Drew Meyer 2000-01-02 201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-06 198 Mac White 1991-92-93-94 191 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09 172 Greg Jonson 1977-78-79-80 176 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98 165 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-92 162 Mike Curry 1996-97-98 159 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-04 156 Skeets Thomas 1988-89-90 156 Hank Small 1972-73-74-75------------------------------------------------- 154 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10
Hits (200 or more) 303 Mac White 1991-92-93-94 299 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-06 285 Drew Meyer 2000-01-02 265 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-04 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98 262 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-98 246 Justin Smoak 2006-07-08 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-75 231 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-92 230 Skeets Thomas 1988-89-90 227 Jeff Barns 1985-86-87 225 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-93 224 Chris Boyle 1981-82-83-84 215 Reese Havens 2006-07-08 211 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10 211 Ryan Bordenick 1995-96-97-98 210 Garrett Carter 1985-86-87-88 209 Burke Cromer 1989-90-91-92 207 Jim Curl 1978-79-80-81 206 Greg Johnson 1977-78-79-80 203 Greg Mor hardt 1982-83-84 201 Brian Buscher 2002-03

Senior catcher Brady Thomas hit a pair of two-run homers in Friday’s 10-2 win over Mississippi State. He was 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored in the win. Thomas is batting .408 (20-for-49) with 12 of his 20 hits extra base hits (eight doubles, one triple, three homers). He has also driven in 15 runs on the year. He owns a .796 slugging percentage. He is 8-for-14 (.571) in SEC games.

Junior Parker Bangs was 2-for-3 with two runs on Tuesday vs. College of Charleston and had a key three-run homer in Sunday’s win over Mississippi State. Bangs is 6-for-18 (.333) against SEC teams with a pair of HR an a team-high nine RBI in SEC games. For the season, he is bating .355 (11-for-31) with three HR and 13 RBI. Bangs also has 19 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched on the mound in a relief role.

Having recovered from a couple of injuries, sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has also been a key part of the Gamecock lineup. Bradley went 4-for-9 (.444) with five walks and a hit by pitch in the series vs. Mississippi State. Bradley had an on-base pct. of .667 vs. the Bulldogs and scored six runs. Bradley is batting .360 (27-for-75) on the year with a pair of HR and 13 RBI as well as 17 runs scored.

Freshman reliever Ethan Carter continues to put together stellar appearances out of the pen. Carter is now 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 10 appearances and 12.0 innings pitched. He has 13 strikeouts and opponents are batting just .103 against him. Carter was perfect in one inning vs. The Citadel on Tuesday as well as one inning in Sunday’s win over Mississippi State.

Freshman right-hander Matt Price has provided strong relief for the Gamecocks this season. Price earned a win in Sunday’s victory over Mississippi State with five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and struck out six batters to improve to 3-0 on the year. Price has a 1.40 ERA in 11 appearances and 19.1 innings pitched with 31 strikeouts and just five walks allowed. Opponents are batting just .149 against him. He also owns a pair of saves on the year.

Depth has been a key ingredient for the Gamecocks this year. For the season, South Carolina has used 26 different starting lineups in 29 games. In addition, 13 different pitchers have accounted for the 23 victories on the year. Also, 16 position players have been in the starting lineup at least once this season. Production has come from all parts in the lineup as well as 12 different players have recorded double-digit RBI totals. Merrifield leads the team with 22 RBI with Adrian Morales behind him at 21 RBI.

Junior right-hander John Taylor has been key out of the bullpen in recent outings. Taylor had six consecutive scoreless outings for the Gamecocks before allowing a run in Wednesday’s game vs. College of Charleston. He has a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched and 11 appearances.

Sophomore outfielder Adam Matthews had a key three-run homer in the 11-5 win vs. Auburn and went 4-for-9 with four RBI and two runs scored over the weekend vs. the Tigers. He was also 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two walks in the 8-5 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday.

Matthews owns a .313 batting average (26-for-83) on the year with six doubles, two triples, two homers and 17 RBI.

Junior right-hander Sam Dyson was stellar in a pitcher’s duel at Auburn and earned a victory in the 2-0 win over the Tigers that helped the Gamecocks clinch the series. Dyson pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out nine batters and walked none to help lead Carolina to the victory.

For the season, He is 2-1 with a 4.79 ERA. Dyson has 39 strikeouts and just six walks in 35.2 innings pitched.

Junior infielder Scott Wingo homered in the 10-1 win over The Citadel and he also had a homer in the 11-5 win vs. Auburn and finished the Auburn series with four hits and three runs scored. Wingo had the game-winning RBI double in the 2-0 victory vs. the Tigers.

He is hitting .321 (25-for-78) with 25 runs scored, four doubles, two triples, five HR and 18 RBI. He owns a .495 on-base percentage and a .615 slugging percentage.

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.

Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth is among SEC leaders in appearances with 15 stints out of the bullpen this season. He is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 12 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. He also has three 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 .259 (22-for-85) with 18 runs scored and 21 RBI as well. His 21 RBI is tied second highest on the team.

Former South Carolina catcher Landon Powell is a nominee for the College World Series Legends Team that will be honored at the 2010 College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Legends Team will represent those student-athletes who had the best CWS performances in the 60 years the even has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium. The 2010 CWS will be the last to be played in Omaha’s Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. Voting for the CWS Legends Team begins Thursday, March 11 and will run until Noon on Friday, April 16. Fans are encouraged to vote at

Powell played in the College World Series three consecutive years (2002, `03, `04) and twice was named to the CWS All-Tournament Team in 2002 and 2004. He had nine hits, six RBI and a HR as the Gamecocks finished as National Runner-Up in the 2002 CWS. Powell is currently with the Oakland A’s. He was a two-time All-SEC selection at catcher (2003, `04) and earned All-America honors in 2004 as well.

The team will have 27 members: two student-athletes per fielding position, four pitchers, two designated hitters, three head coaches and two “utility players”. The utility players will be determined after fan voting and represent those student-athletes deserving recognition who may not have been selected by fans, media and coaches at a particular position. From the list of names, please cast your vote for the best players best coaches based solely on their performance during the NCAA Men’s College World Series. Fans will only be able to submit a vote once.

The CWS Legends Team members will be invited to attend the final College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium. Those in attendance will be formally honored during the CWS Opening Ceremonies in Rosenblatt Stadium on Friday, June 18.

Ray Tanner
South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner is in his 14th season as head coach of the Gamecock baseball team and his 23rd year as a collegiate head coach. Tanner’s career record is 998-445-3 (.691) with a 603-272 (.689) mark at South Carolina. The .689 winning percentage is third highest in SEC history. He became the fourth fastest active coach to reach the 800-win plateau in the 2005 season. He has averaged over 44 wins a season and is currently the eighth winningest active coach in Division I college baseball by winning percentage.