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May 19, 2010

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Coach Tanner

Columbia, S.C. – The SEC Championship is on the line this week as South Carolina (42-11, 20-7 SEC) hosts Florida (38-13, 20-7 SEC) in a three-game series on Thursday night. The series opener on Thursday is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on SportSouth. Friday’s game at 7 p.m. will be televised on FSN. The series finale on Saturday will start at 4 p.m. and will be televised live on FSN. All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

The Gamecocks leads the series history 35-26 despite a sweep by the Gators last year in Gainesville. Carolina won two of three games in 2008, the last time the two teams met in Columbia at Sarge Frye Field. This is Florida’s first visit to Carolina Stadium. South Carolina has won eight of the last 10 series played between the two schools (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008).

The two teams enters the weekend tied for first place overall in the SEC. The winner of the series secures a conference title as well as the No. 1 seed at next week’s SEC Tournament.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Blake Cooper (Sr. RHP) 10-0, 3.01 ERA, 89.2 IP, 28 BB, 79 SO
Florida Alex Panteliodis (So. LHP) 8-2, 3.34 ERA, 72.2 IP, 15 BB, 53 SO

South Carolina Sam Dyson (Jr. RHP) 5-4, 3.79 ERA, 76.0 IP, 16 BB, 79 SO
Florida Hudson Randall (Fr. RHP) 6-3, 2.96 ERA, 70.0 IP, 16 BB, 49 SO

South Carolina TBA
Florida Brian Johnson (Fr. LHP) 5-2, 3.53 ERA, 58.2 IP, 11 BB, 41 SO

South Carolina had 10 consecutive batters reach base in a nine-run seventh inning including a grand slam home run by Bobby Haney as the Gamecocks defeated Furman 11-6 on Tuesday night in non-conference baseball action at Carolina Stadium.

With the game tied at 2-2, the Gamecocks made their move in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bobby Haney singled to open the inning followed by a one-out base hit by Whit Merrifield and a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. that loaded the bases. Both Haney and Merrifield would score on Christian Walker’s RBI single to right field off of Furman reliever Kevin Gaid. After an intentional walk to Jeffery Jones loaded the bases, the Gamecocks scored their third run of the inning on a walk issued to Adrian Morales. After that, Robert Beary laced a RBI single scoring Walker and ending the evening for Gaid. With Kevin Gottlieb on in relief, Carolina kept it going as Brady Thomas delivered with a RBI single. The bases were still full and set the stage for Haney, who reached base for the second time in the inning, this time briefly, as he crushed a grand slam home run to right field, his third homer of the year and second career grand slam that increased the Gamecock advantage to 11-2.

With the win on Tuesday, the Gamecocks finished for the first time in modern history (1970-present) with an undefeated record in non-conference midweek games in the regular season with a 14-0 mark.

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.

For the season, Dyson is 5-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 76.0 innings pitched. He has 79 strikeouts and opponents are batting just .247 against him.

South Carolina senior right-hander Blake Cooper has been named to USA Baseball’s 2010 Golden Spikes Award Watch List. The Golden Spikes Award is given to the top amateur player in baseball.

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). His 31 career victories is tied for second 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 also in second with 31 wins.

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.

On Tuesday, June 1, USA Baseball officials will cut the watch list of players to 30 names. The final list of 30 will then be sent to a voting body consisting of select professional baseball personnel, past USA Baseball National Team coaches, select members of the media, former USA Baseball sports information directors, and current USA Baseball staff — close to 150 voters in total.

The 2010 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award will be presented nationally July 13 on an award show via live telecast from Anaheim on, and in conjunction with All-Star FanFest.

South Carolina has had one player in school history earn the award. In 2000, right-handed pitcher Kip Bouknight received the Golden Spikes after posting a 17-1 record and helping lead the Gamecocks to a SEC championship.

South Carolina Career Victories 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  Blake Cooper  2007-present        (31-12)    31  David Marchbanks2001-03        (31-8)    31  Matt Threehouse 1989-93        (31-14)    31  Dennis Lubert   1979-82        (31-9)
South Carolina Career Innings Pitched List1) 482.0 Kip Bouknight 1998-012) 370.0 Aaron Rawl 2002-053) 361.1 Jason Haynie 1993-964) 350.2 Matt Threehouse 1989-935) 345.0 Rich Pratt 1990-936) 340.1 Dennis Lubert 1979-82 340.1 Greg Ward 1972-758) 333.0 Tim Lewis 1973-769) 329.2Blake Cooper 2007-present

South Carolina was named by “Team of the Week” after the squad 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. Carolina has won eight of nine series on the year in the SEC.

With Saturday’s 5-0 win at Arkansas, 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 (3.65), opposing batting average (.228), hits allowed (398) and runs allowed (226). The Gamecocks are also second in strikeouts (477).

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).

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 are 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 23 appearances, Mata has a 2.56 ERA with 31.2 innings pitched. He is 6-1 on the year. Opponents are batting just .221 against him.

Whit Merrifield tallied three hits with a run scored and a RBI in the 11-6 win vs. Furman. He also 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 .338 (74-for-219) on the year with a team-leading 12 HR and 33 RBI on the year. He leads the SEC with 64 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 242 career hits, his is now three shy of Hanks Small (245) for ninth 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 .354 batting average (62-for-175) and has eight HR and 39 RBI on the year. His .459 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 .320 (31-for-97) on the year. 19 of his 31 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 33-3 on the year when it out-hits the opponent and 32-5 when hitting at least one home run. The Gamecocks are also 29-5 on the year when scoring first in the game. Carolina holds a 35-1 advantage when owning a lead entering the seventh inning and 6-2 when the game is tied heading into the seventh. South Carolina is 16-7 in games decided by three runs or less.

Freshman Christian Walker is swinging a hot stick. Walker was 4-for-6 with three runs scored, four RBI and three doubles in the 13-9 win over Kentucky. The three doubles ties him for the school record for doubles in a game. Walker is hitting .313 (47-for-150) on the year with six HR and 39 RBI. He leads the Gamecocks in SEC games with a .359 average vs. conference foes.

South Carolina set a Carolina Stadium record vs. Winthrop with seven home runs in the 14-6 victory. The two teams combined for 31 hits with the Gamecocks tallying 17 and Winthrop finishing with 14 for the evening. The seven home runs also tied for the second highest total of home runs hit in a game by a South Carolina team coached by Ray Tanner.

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.

South Carolina is hitting .302 (547-for-1814) as a team on the year with the squad’s on-base percentage .400 and slugging percentage at .497 for the season. The Gamecocks have scored 406 runs with 104 doubles, 11 triples, and 76 homers.

Against Alabama 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.

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.

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 168 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)  189 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) 177 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10
Hits1) 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 1995-96-97-986) 262 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-097) 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-988) 246 Justin Smoak 2006-07-089) 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-7510) 242 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10

Junior infielder Adrian Morales has also had a hot bat and has raised his batting average to .292 (50-for-171) on the year. He had a pair of hits; a RBI and a run scored in the 17-4 win over Wofford. Morales hit .400 (6-for-15) for the Alabama series with a pair of RBI and four runs scored. 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.

South Carolina has been stellar defensively as the team has committed just 52 errors in 53 games with the squad fielding .974 for the season.

The South Carolina pitching staff now has eight shutouts on the year including six in SEC play (4-0 vs. Tennessee, 2-0 at Auburn, 2-0 at Vanderbilt, 5-0 vs. Ole Miss, 5-0 at Georgia, 5-0 at Arkansas). The eight shutouts are the most recorded by a SEC staff 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 4.65 ERA in 40.2 innings pitched.

Depth has been a key ingredient for the Gamecocks this year. For the season, South Carolina has used 42 different starting lineups in 53 games. In addition, 13 different pitchers have accounted for the 41 victories on the year. Also, 16 position players have been in the starting lineup at least once this season.