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May 6, 2010

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (35-9, 16-5 SEC) heads back on the road this weekend for a three-game series at Kentucky (24-20, 7-14 SEC). First pitch for the opener is set for 7 p.m. on Friday with Saturday’s game also at 7 p.m. Both those games will be televised live on FS South by the Big Blue Sports Network. Sunday’s series finale will be at 1 p.m. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

South Carolina leads the series history 37-27 including a series victory in Lexington, Ky. last year when the Gamecocks won two of three games vs. the Wildcats.

Jackie Bradley Jr. and Whit Merrifield each tallied their first multi-homer games of their careers and South Carolina set a Carolina Stadium record with seven home runs on the way to a 14-6 win over Winthrop on Wednesday night in non-conference baseball action.

The two teams combined for 31 hits with the Gamecocks tallying 17 and Winthrop finishing with 14 for the evening. Merrifield’s two homers now puts him in the lead for Carolina with 10 on the year. Bradley now has seven after his two home runs with Christian Walker, Jeffery Jones and Bobby Haney also going yard for the Gamecocks. Haney set a career-high in hits with a 4-for-4 day at the plate with three runs scored. Merrifield tied his season-high and was 3-for-4 with four runs scored. Bradley drove in four runs and also scored three. Walker finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI as well. For Winthrop, Sean Sullivan, Tyler McBride, Matt Thielepape and Patrick Gamblin all tallied two hits apiece to lead the Eagles at the plate.

Gamecock reliever Jose Mata earned the win after 3.2 innings out of the bullpen. He allowed two runs on five hits with a strikeout. He is now 5-0 for the season. Winthrop starter Ken Monteith lasted only 1.1 innings and allowed five runs on six hits with a walk to suffer the loss. He is now 0-2 for the year.

South Carolina went 2-1 last week winning two of three games in a weekend SEC series vs. Alabama. The Gamecocks lead the Southeastern Conference by one game over Florida. The Gamecocks are the only SEC squad to have won all seven of its conference series this year. Carolina has won 10 consecutive SEC series dating back to last year.

For the Alabama series, the three-game total attendance of 24,204 was the largest for a weekend series at Carolina Stadium in school history. The previous high was 23,220 vs. Georgia from May 14-16, 2009. Friday’s game of 8,145 was second highest for the season with Saturday’s 8,053 the third highest and Friday’s mark of 8,006 the fourth highest mark for the season. For the season, the Gamecocks have a total of attendance of 178,000, an average of 6,592 fans in 27 home games.

This past weekend was South Carolina’s best weekend series at the plate as the Gamecocks batted .379 (47-for-124) against the Crimson Tide. Carolina also tallied nine homers for the weekend; that is the most in a three-game series for the Gamecocks as well this year.

South Carolina is hitting .305 (459-for-1505) as a team on the year with the squad’s on-base percentage .404 and slugging percentage at .506 for the season. The Gamecocks have scored 338 runs with 90 doubles, 10 triples, and 64 homers.

South Carolina pounded out a season-high 25 hits setting a Carolina Stadium record for hits in a game with Kyle Enders driving in a career-high five runs on five hits and Brady Thomas batting 3-for-3 with four RBI as well as the Gamecocks defeated Alabama 20-15 on Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.

The 25 hits were the most in the game by the Gamecocks this year. Eight Gamecock players tallied multi-hit games on Sunday. Enders is the first Gamecock player this year to tally five hits in a game, a career-high for the senior catcher. He also hit his first home run of the season. Thomas’ 3-for-3 day at the plate saw him tally his sixth home run of the year and second of the series. He also scored four runs on the afternoon. Whit Merrifield finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI. Adam Matthews was 2-for-3 with two RBI with Evan Marzilli also tallying two RBI with his first career home run. Jackie Bradley Jr. was 2-for-3 with a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. Scott Wingo also had two hits as did Christian Walker, who scored three runs. The 25 hits ties for the fifth highest mark in a game by a Gamecock team coached by Ray Tanner.

Senior catcher Brady Thomas had a clutch bat this weekend as he went 4-for-9 in the series vs. the Crimson Tide. Thomas won Friday’s 9-7 game with a two-out two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning. He then hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 8-8 and help key a six-run fourth inning that saw South Carolina regain the lead on the Crimson Tide. Thomas, in 29 games with 20 starts, is batting .329 (27-for-82) with six HR and 22 RBI. Also, 16 of his 27 hits are extra base hits on the year (nine doubles, a triple, six HR). He has a .683 slugging percentage.

Sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. put on a performance in Friday’s 9-7 win. Bradley was 3-for-5 with a triple, homer and four RBI as well as two assists from the outfield. Bradley has been hot at the plate recently and is leading the team with a .348 batting average (48-for-138) with seven HR and 29 RBI in 35 starts. He also has stolen seven bases on the year.

Bradley has been invited to the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials set for July 5-July 11 at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Bradley will be fighting for a spot on the final 22-man roster that will be selected on Sunday, July 11. The team will then tour across the USA with the summer season culminating on July 30- Aug. 7 at the FISU World University Baseball Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

Bradley was impressive vs. Georgia batting .538 (7-for-13) in the series with a homer, three RBI and five runs scored vs. the Bulldogs. Bradley reached base five times with four hits including a homer and a game-winning RBI single in the top of the seventh inning as South Carolina held on for an 8-7 victory over Georgia in game two of the doubleheader. His four hits was a season-high as well.

Several former Gamecocks have played on the Collegiate National Team including most recently, Justin Smoak (2007), who made his Major League Baseball debut this past Friday with the Texas Rangers. In addition to playing for Team USA in 2007, Smoak also played on the 2009 USA Baseball World Cup team that won a gold medal last September at the IBAF World Cup. Smoak earned the 2009 Richard W. “Dick” Case Award recognizing him as USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year. Smoak helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup in September in Europe. He set a U.S. World Cup record with nine home runs in the event, and he was named to the All-World Cup Team as well as the event’s Most Valuable Player. Smoak finished the tournament with a .291 average, and in addition to pacing the team in home runs; he also topped the club with 22 RBIs and 16 runs scored. His performance earned him USA Baseball’s nomination for the USOC September Athlete of the Month award, and he was later named the 2009 IBAF Senior Athlete of the Year.

Current Major Leaguers and former Gamecocks Landon Powell (2002) and Adam Everett (1997) also represented the Red, White & Blue on the Collegiate National Team. Everett also was on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team that won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games.

South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner also has association with USA Baseball. He has served five stints with the Red, White & Blue including his latest in 2003 as head coach for the USA National Baseball Team. At the helm of some of the top freshmen and sophomores in the country, Tanner’s club finished with a 27-2 record, the best record for a U.S. National Team (.931 winning percentage) and won a silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. He was named the U.S. National Coach of the Year for his work that season. Prior to his head coaching stint, Tanner served as an auxiliary coach for the 2000 Olympic Team under Tommy Lasorda that won a gold medal at the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. He was also an assistant with the 1995-1996 USA teams under former LSU coach Skip Bertman that culminated in a bronze medal win at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Tanner also served alongside former Mississippi State coach Ron Polk on Bertman’s staff. Tanner’s first stint with USA Baseball came as an assistant coach to the national team in the summer of 1993.

Junior infielder Adrian Morales has also had a hot bat and has raised his batting average to .292 (40-for-137) on the year. Morales hit .400 (6-for-15) for the Alabama series with a pair of RBI and four runs scored. In SEC games, he is batting .311 with four HR and 20 RBI as well as eight doubles.

Morales had a career-high four hits and drove in a pair of runs and also scored three times in the 20-15 win over Alabama. He also doubled twice in the 9-7 win over the Crimson Tide.

Freshman infielder Christian Walker hit .500 (5-for-10) against the Crimson Tide including a two-run homer in Saturday’s game. He also scored five runs in the series. He is hitting .304 (35-for-115) for the year with five HR and 28 RBI. Walker owns a .366 average (15-for-41) in SEC games.

Junior infielder Scott Wingo hit a solo homer in Friday’s win vs. Alabama and also had two doubles in the 20-15 victory vs. the Crimson Tide. He has nine homers for the season. Wingo is hitting .310 (39-for-126) for the season and has a .463 on-base percentage to go along with a .603 slugging percentage.

Freshman outfielder Evan Marzilli hit his first career homer, a two-run shot, in the 20-15 win over Alabama. Marzilli has primarily been a defensive replacement with 39 games played and just seven starts. He has been effective at the plate though, batting .368 (14-for-38) and has also scored 16 runs.

Carolina’s pitching staff continues to be among the top in the nation sporting a 3.69 ERA in 394.2 innings pitched. The squad’s ERA ranks second best in the SEC with the squad leading the conference in opponents batting average allowing teams to be hitting at just a .231 clip on the year. Carolina also is second in the Southeastern Conference with 408 strikeouts.

In SEC contests, Carolina leads the conference in opposing batting average (.243) and is second best in ERA (3.89) and strikeouts (177). COOP

Despite a no-decision vs. Alabama, senior right-hander Blake Cooper still sits atop the SEC with an 8-0 record. Cooper went 6.1 innings in the no-decision on Friday vs. Alabama and allowed four runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Cooper leads the SEC in innings pitched (77.0), is fourth in opponents batting average (.212), fifth in strikeouts (69) and eighth in earned run average (2.92).

Cooper has also been strong in SEC games with five wins that is tied with Drew Smyly of Arkansas for most conference victories. Cooper has pitched a SEC-high 52.1 innings and is second in strikeouts (45), fifth in opponents batting average (.219) and seventh in earned run average (2.75) in conference contests.

Cooper moved up on the all-time career victory list at Carolina with 29 career wins. He is currently 10th on the school career list. His 29 career victories is third highest among current players in Division I. Matt Ridings of Western Kentucky leads Division I with 33 career wins with Daniel Bibona of UC Irvine second with 30,

Cooper earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors in a 5-0 win over Ole Miss. Cooper struck out a career-high 10 batters in the victory, his fifth complete game of his career but his first career complete game shutout. He allowed just four hits and one walk in the victory. The complete game shutout was the first by a Gamecock pitcher since Aaron Rawl on May 13, 2005 in a 2-0 win at Ole Miss.

South Carolina Career Victories Top 10 List1)  45  Kip Bouknight   1998-01        (45-12)2)  36  Tim Lewis   1973-76                (36-6)3)  35  Aaron Rawl  2002-05        (35-15)4)  34  Earl Bass   1972-75                (34-3)    34  Greg Ward   1972-75                (34-13)6)  31  David Marchbanks2001-03        (31-8)    31  Matt Threehouse 1989-93        (31-14)    31  Dennis Lubert   1979-82                (31-9)9)      30  Mike Cook   1983-85                (30-8)10) 29  Blake Cooper  2006-09        (28-12)

Junior Whit Merrifield continues to be one of the top bats in the Southeastern Conference and recently received 2009-10 Earnest Brooks Co-Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors at South Carolina along with men’s golfer George Bryan IV.

Merrifield tied a season-high with three hits on Wedneseday vs. Winthrop and went 5-for-12 in the weekend series vs. Alabama. He now has 231 career hits that moves him up to a tie for 9th all-time on the hits list at Carolina. He is 14 shy of Hank Small (1972-73-74-75) for eighth on the all-time list. Merrifield has hit safely in 41 of 44 games this year and has hit safely in 26 straight conference games dating back to last year (29 including SEC Tournament). He leads the SEC in runs scored with 55 for the season. He is the only Gamecock player to have started all 44 games this year. He is batting .348 (63-for-181) with 10 HR and 28 RBI. His 10 home runs lead the team.

Merrifield has saved his best for SEC play as he owns a .378 average (31-for-82) in conference games with 24 runs scored as well as five home runs. That average is eighth best in the SEC in SEC games. He also has a .598 slugging percentage and a .474 on-base percentage; on-base is seventh best in the SEC and slugging is 11th.

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. He has made 162 consecutive starts for the Gamecocks dating back to March 7, 2008.

South Carolina Career ListsRuns Scored1)  223 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-982)  215 Mike Curry  1996-97-983)  212 Drew Meyer  2000-01-024)  209 Mac White   1991-92-93-945)  188 Justin Smoak  2006-07-086)  182 Jeff Parnell    1990-91-92-937)  181 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-068)  180 Whit Merrifield    2008-09-10
Singles1) 209 Drew Meyer 2000-01-022) 201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063) 198 Mac White 1991-92-93-944) 191 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-095) 176 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-986) 172 Greg Jonson 1977-78-79-807) 170 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10
Hits (200 or more)1) 303 Mac White 1991-92-93-942) 299 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-063) 285 Drew Meyer 2000-01-024) 265 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-04 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-985) 262 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-096) 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-987) 246 Justin Smoak 2006-07-088) 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-759) 231 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-109) 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 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 Morhardt 1982-83-84 201 Brian Buscher 2002-03

Junior Parker Bangs tied a South Carolina single-game record with three doubles in the 6-4 loss vs. Alabama. In a limited role at the plate, Bangs is batting .341 (14-for-41) with three HR and 15 RBI as well as six doubles.

South Carolina is now 30-1 for the season when leading entering the top of the seventh inning. South Carolina is also 23-3 for the year when scoring first in a game. In other superlatives, the Gamecocks are 28-3 when out-hitting its opponent. The Gamecocks are 14-6 in games decided by three runs or less.

Freshman reliever Ethan Carter continues to put together stellar appearances out of the pen. He has not allowed a run in 14 of 17 relief appearances this season. He is 2-0 on the year with a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched. He has 27 strikeouts to just five walks with opponents batting just .205 against him.

South Carolina has been stellar defensively as the team has committed just 43 errors in 44 games with the squad fielding .975 for the season. In addition, the team has a .978 fielding mark in 21 SEC games with just 17 errors in conference contests.

Freshman reliever Matt Price is 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched. Price also has four saves. He has 46 strikeouts to just nine walks with opponents batting just .196 against him for the season. He has not allowed a run in 12 of 18 appearances.

South Carolina reached the halfway point in SEC play with an 11-4 conference record. Below is the record of South Carolina at the halfway point in SEC action under head coach Ray Tanner.

Year        Halfway Point   Second Half Rec.    Final SEC Record    SEC East Finish2010        11-4    N/A N/A N/A2009        7-8 10-5    17-13   2nd2008        9-6 6-9 15-15   5th2007        9-6 8-7 17-13   2nd2006        11-4    4-11    15-15   4th2005        9-6 7-8 16-14   2nd2004        7-8 10-5    17-13   2nd2003        7-8 12-4    19-11   1st2002        9-5 12-3    21-8    1st2001        8-7 9-6 17-13   3rd2000        12-3    13-2    25-5    1st1999        9-6 6-9 15-15   1st1998        10-4    9-6 19-10   2nd1997        7-8 6-9 13-17   4th

Although he lost in Saturday’s game, junior right-hander Sam Dyson pitched a strong 7.1 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits in the loss. He struck out a season-high 10 batters and walked jut one. Dyson for the season is 4-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 59 innings pitched. He has 63 strikeouts to 10 walks.

Dyson was tabbed the SEC Pitcher of the Week following his three-hit complete game shutout in the seven-inning 5-0 win over Georgia in game one of a doubleheader. Dyson, Blake Cooper (April 19) and Jay Brown (April 12) have all earned the award for the Gamecocks.

Dyson is only the third SEC pitcher to record a complete game shutout this year and the second this season to do it in SEC play. Dyson finished with 69 strikes out of 96 pitches and allowed just one runner from Georgia to get in scoring position in the seven-inning shutout. All 21 putouts by the Gamecock came from the diamond, as Dyson struck out five batters and recorded 14 ground ball outs. The win was the first complete game shutout of Dyson’s career. It helped clinch a series victory over Georgia, the first time since 2002 that the Gamecocks have won a series at Georgia. With the win, Dyson moved into a tie for 15th on the all-time career victory list at Carolina with 21 career wins.

The South Carolina pitching staff now has seven shutouts on the year including five in SEC play (4-0 vs. Tennessee, 2-0 at Auburn, 2-0 at Vanderbilt, 5-0 vs. Ole Miss, 5-0 at Georgia). The seven shutouts are the most recorded by a SEC staff this year.

Jose Mata hurled 3.2 innings of relief to pick up his fifth win of the season in the 14-6 vicoty over Winthrop. The 9-7 win over Alabama featured Mata as well as he struck out the lone batter he faced to earn the win in the 11-inning affair. Mata is now 5-0 for the season with a 1.98 ERA in 19 appearances and has 18 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .216 against him.

Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth is tied for fourth in the SEC in appearances with 21 for the season. He has a 2.08 ERA and three saves in 13.0 innings pitched with 14 strikeouts. He has not allowed a run in 16 of 21 appearances for the year.

Roth has also been a left-handed bat for the Gamecocks with eight plate appearances including a home run this year.

South Carolina senior right-hander Jay Brown was SEC Pitcher of the Week after a 2-0 win at Vanderbilt. In his second career SEC start, Brown pitched a season-high 6.1 innings and combined with relievers Michael Roth and Matt Price to face the minimum in the win over nationally ranked Vanderbilt to help the Gamecocks clinch the rubber game of a three-game SEC series.

Brown did not walk a batter and allowed just two singles. He also did not allow a batter to get past second base in the entire outing. It was the third longest outing in Brown’s career at Carolina. Brown, Roth and Price finished with a two-hit shutout, the first time since 2005 that Vanderbilt had been shutout at home in an SEC game. The loss was only Vanderbilt’s third of the season at home.

Brown is 2-0 on the year and owns a 4.72 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched.

Depth has been a key ingredient for the Gamecocks this year. For the season, South Carolina has used 38 different starting lineups in 44 games. In addition, 13 different pitchers have accounted for the 35 victories on the year. Also, 16 position players have been in the starting lineup at least once this season.