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May 17, 2010

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (41-11) returns home on Tuesday night hosting Furman (16-33) at Carolina Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on SportSouth and can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at South Carolina enters the week ranked No. 6 by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and and No. 7 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.

South Carolina Jay Brown (Sr. RHP) 2-0, 5.02 ERA, 37.2 IP, 18 BB, 27 SO
Furman Barry Benton (Sr. LHP) 0-5, 10.16 ERA, 31.0 IP, 25 BB, 17 SO

In the 15-0 win vs. Furman at Fluor Field earlier this year, 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).

South Carolina junior right-hander Sam Dyson has earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors following his six-hit complete game shutout as the Gamecocks defeated nationally ranked Arkansas 5-0 on Saturday afternoon clinch a three-game SEC baseball series at Baum Stadium. Dyson had a tremendous outing as he limited the Razorbacks, who came in ranked second in the league in hitting and runs scored, to just six hits and walked only two on the afternoon. He struck out eight batters and went to only three three-ball counts in the game. He is now 5-4 on the year. This is the second time this year that Dyson has earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors. He also earned the award after he hurled a seven-inning complete game shutout in a win at Georgia on April 25. This is the fourth time this year that a Gamecock pitcher has earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors.

South Carolina went 5-0 this past week winning a pair of non-conference games vs. Wofford and Charleston Southern and sweeping a three-game weekend SEC series at nationally ranked Arkansas. The Gamecocks are now 41-11 on the year and 20-7 in SEC play. The Gamecocks are tied for first place in the Southeastern Conference with Florida. Carolina has won eight of nine series on the year in the SEC. This weekend the Gamecocks host the Gators with the winner of the series winning a Southeastern Conference championship.

With Saturday’s win, the Gamecocks have now won 40 or more games in 11 consecutive seasons. Heading into the year, the Gamecocks were one of only eight Division I schools to have won 40 or more games each season dating back to 2000.

South Carolina’s pitching staff had a tremendous weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. Heading into the week the Razorbacks were ranked second in the SEC in batting average, runs scored and slugging percentage. The Carolina staff answered the challenge and limited the Razorbacks to just five runs on 16 hits in 27 innings pitched. South Carolina’s pitching staff kept Arkansas at a .170 batting average for the weekend and the Gamecocks finished the series with a 1.67 ERA.

Heading into the final weekend of play, the Gamecock pitching staff leads the Southeastern Conference in earned run average (3.62), opposing batting average (.229), hits allowed (391) and runs allowed (220). The Gamecocks are also second in strikeouts (471).

South Carolina also leads the Southeastern Conference in SEC games in earned run average (3.76), opposing batting average (.240) and hits allowed (211). The Gamecocks are also second in strikeouts (223) and runs allowed (120).

Senior right-hander Blake Cooper allowed just two runs on three hits in seven innings of work to improve to 10-0 on the year as South Carolina defeated Arkansas 3-2 in the first game of the series. The pitching match-up between Cooper and Arkansas starter Drew Smyly lived up to the billing as both guys battled and matched each other inning after inning and limited the teams to base runners through the first two-thirds of the game. Cooper struck out seven and walked two in his seven innings of work. He is now 10-0 on the year and leads the SEC in victories. Cooper has pitched a SEC high 89.2 innings and is fourth in the league in opposing batting average (.217), tied for fifth in strikeouts (79) and sixth in earned run average (3.01).

Cooper also has won the most SEC games as seven of his 10 wins have come in conference play, the most by a SEC pitcher. Cooper has pitched a SEC-high 65.0 innings, is fourth in opposing batting average (.224), tied for fourth in strikeouts (55) and fifth in earned run average (2.91) in league play.

Blake Cooper’s 10th win gives him 31 now for his career at Carolina and ties him for sixth on the South Carolina career victories list with David Marchbanks (2001-03), Matt Threehouse (1989-93) and Dennis Lubert (1979-82).

Five Gamecock relievers combined for six scoreless innings as South Carolina defeated Arkansas 5-3 on Sunday afternoon to sweep a three-game series at Baum Stadium.

Freshman right-hander Matt Price was stellar in Fayetteville as he saved both Friday’s and Sunday’s victories vs. the Razorbacks. Price twice handcuffed the Razorbacks in 1.1 innings of relief to earn a save on both Friday and Sunday. He is now 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 22 appearances. He has seven saves in 35.1 innings. He also has 54 strikeouts to just 13 walks on the year and opponents are hitting just .220 against him.

All seven of Price’s saves have come in SEC play that is the second highest total among SEC pitchers. His 15 SEC appearances is tied for the league high in conference play.

Another key ingredient of the bullpen has been sophomore left-hander Michael Roth, who has been key in a match-up situation. Twice, Roth was called upon by the Gamecocks this weekend and he delivered with a strikeout vs. Zack Cox on Friday and a strikeout vs. Andy Wilkins on Sunday, two of the top hitters for Arkansas. Roth is tied for fifth in the SEC in all games with 25 appearances on the year. He owns a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings and has struck out 16 batters. Opponents are batting just .231 against him. He also has three saves.

Junior right-hander Jose Mata picked up a win on Wednesday vs. Charleston Southern and also factored in Sunday’s win at Arkansas. In 22 appearances, Mata has a 2.05 ERA with 30.2 innings pitched. He is 6-1 on the year. Opponents are batting just .213 against him.

Whit Merrifield homered twice including a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning as South Carolina defeated Arkansas 5-3. Merrifield had five hits in the Arkansas series and is now batting .332 (71-for-214) on the year with a team-leading 12 HR and 33 RBI on the year. He leads the SEC with 63 runs scored as well as 13 sacrifice bunts. With five runs scored in the series, he is now fifth on the South Carolina all-time runs scored list with 190 in his career. With 239 career hits, his is now sixth shy of Hanks Small (245) for eighth on the all-time hits list at Carolina.

Sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to keep a hot bat going as he helped in the series sweep at Arkansas. Bradley was 5-for-12 with three doubles vs. the Razorbacks. Bradley’s one-out double in the top of the seventh inning broke a 2-2 tie in the 3-2 win on Friday vs. Arkansas. Bradley leads the Gamecocks with a .357 batting average (61-for-171) and has eight HR and 38 RBI on the year. His .461 on-base percentage is 10th best in the SEC.

Senior catcher Brady Thomas had a key two-run homer in the 5-0 win over Arkansas on Saturday. He is batting .316 (30-for95) on the year. 19 of his 30 hits have been extra base hits (11 doubles, one triple, seven homers).

South Carolina’s sweep of Arkansas marked the first series victory over the Razorbacks since a series sweep in Columbia in 2001. It was the Gamecocks first series victory in school history at Arkansas.

South Carolina is now 32-3 on the year when it out-hits the opponent and 31-5 when hitting at least one home run. The Gamecocks are also 28-5 on the year when scoring first in the game. Carolina holds a 34-1 advantage when owning a lead entering the seventh inning and 5-2 when the game is tied heading into the seventh. South Carolina is 16-7 in games decided by three runs or less.