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May 31, 2010

Columbia Regional Central

Coach Tanner
Jay Brown
Whit Merrifield
Blake Cooper

Columbia, S.C. – The field has been set for the 2010 NCAA Baseball Regional in Columbia, S.C. at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina (43-15) is the No. 1 seed and will face the No. 4 seed Bucknell (25-33) at 7 p.m. on Friday. The No. 2 seed Virginia Tech (38-20) will face No. 3 seed The Citadel (42-20) in the opener of the regional set for 2 p.m. The NCAA Regional will run from Friday, June 4 to Monday, June 7.

Tickets will be sold through Thursday, June 3, as they remain available at the University of South Carolina Athletic Ticket Office at the Colonial Life Arena between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. If available, tickets may also be purchased at Carolina Stadium beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Friday and continuing each day at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If the tournament extends through Monday, June 7, available tickets can be purchased at the Carolina Athletic Ticket Office at the Colonial Life Arena between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m, and also at Carolina Stadium starting at 5:30 p.m. The Ticket Office number is (803) 777-4274 or (800) 4SC-FANS.

Tournament reserved booklets are $70 for adults/students/faculty/staff/boosters/youth. Please be aware, the Univeristy of South Carolina will be selling full booklets until Friday, June 4, at which time, all remaining single-game tickets will be sold game-by-game. All single-game tickets are $10 each. Individual game ticket prices are $10 for Adult reserved and for General Admission, and $10 for USC students/faculty/staff. The stadium will be cleared at the end of each game.

This is Carolina’s 26th overall appearance in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. South Carolina has reached eight College World Series as well as seven NCAA Super Regionals. South Carolina’s 11 consecutive trips to the NCAA Baseball Tournament (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) is the longest current streak of the 12 SEC schools. This marks the 12th time in school history that the Gamecocks will host an NCAA Regional in baseball. Since the move to the Regional-Super Regional format, Carolina has hosted an NCAA Regional six times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010).


Head Coach Ray Tanner

On first-round opponent Bucknell:
They had an OK conference season, then they get in the tournament as the 4-seed. They go on the road, they win; they go on the road again, they win again. They’re playing well at the right time. They’ve got a guy with 20 homers, they’ve got another guy with 17 homers. They pick up the baseball; I think they’re fielding about .972, .973. So there’s some reasons that they’ve been able to win.

On Bucknell and Virginia Tech:
I don’t know much about them, obviously. I got a chance to see Virginia Tech on TV the last couple of days, and we know about their personnel. Bucknell, since we found out we were playing them, we did a little research. There will be a lot more to come.

On how the matchups for this regional set up for South Carolina:
I think it’s good. What I’m most concerned about is us. The buildup to the announcement today and those kinds of things, that doesn’t affect me a whole lot. I’m more concerned about what we do and who we are. And we’ve been a pretty good team all year long. We’ve pitched, we’ve played defense, our hitting has been timely – and sometimes untimely. And that’s what we’ve been fighting a little bit lately. I’m more concerned about how we play. You can’t get too concerned with who you play. You’re going to get some scouting reports, but you’ve got to focus on what your guys do and try to do the things that got you here.

On the team’s pitching rotation for the weekend:
There have been some discussions. I met with Blake Cooper a little earlier today and we chatted it up about his status and where he was physically, how he felt. I talked to (Sam) Dyson a little bit yesterday. The thing that’s holding us back right now, Coach (Mark) Calvi had an extensive recruiting trip the last few days and he didn’t make it back yet. We’re not going to make any decision until I sit down with him.

On having a week off after some struggles at the plate:
I think it does, and I used the word “perspective” yesterday… We got stuffed a little bit in the Florida series. We had some runners on, we had a few hits, but not really timely. I sort of got past that because of the depth of Florida’s bullpen. I was able to digest that and move on. But then we go to the tournament, we face (Ole Miss’ Drew) Pomeranz… that was the wrong guy for us to see that day. Then Auburn got us pretty good, Auburn’s bullpen guy was outstanding. It got to me a little bit. That being said, we faced some quality people and we didn’t do well enough. You move past that. But we’ve had some pretty good offense the entire year – not great, but enough to win 43 games. So we’ve got to get back to that.

Whit Merrifield

On returning to the postseason:
It’s what you strive for. You strive to play at home at the end of the year. Unfortunately we didn’t get a national seed, but we got a regional at home. So we’ve got to go out and take care of business. It’s going to be fun having our fans cheer for us this year as opposed to the last few years when we’ve had to travel and that hasn’t worked out too well for us.

On the rest of the Columbia regional field:
The word is, Bucknell swings it very well. And I played with a guy from Virginia Tech this summer, Jesse Hahn. I talked to a buddy from Wake Forest, he said (Virginia Tech) has a lot of really good arms, and they swing it well too. The Citadel’s a good team, we’ve played them twice. We’ve got a good regional.

Blake Cooper

On beginning postseason play at home:
It’s great. My first year, we stayed here at Sarge Frye Field and made it to super regionals; unfortunately we fell short. But it’s great to play at home when you’ve got your fans behind you. It’s a great atmosphere here.

On the pitching rotation:
I just met with Coach Tanner in his office, and we really don’t know yet. We went over a couple of scenarios, but we haven’t decided yet. I’m ready to pitch, I don’t know what day it’s going to be, but I’ll be ready.

Kyle Enders

On the competition in this weekend’s regional:
We were sitting here as a team watching it, we were all pretty excited to see who was coming here and who we were matched up with. We’ve got Bucknell Friday, we’re getting ready for them. With this thing, you never really know. We’d been talking about who we thought we’d get, but there’s always surprises.

On the pressure of being a host team for a regional:
I don’t think we feel any pressure. I think we’re just going to go out there and do what we’ve done all year – play baseball and have fun.

Jay Brown

On the pitching rotation:
We’ve had some conversations about pitching scenarios, who’s going to throw when, but I’ll be ready to pitch whenever. We’ll talk to Coach Tanner and Coach Calvi this week. Sam (Dyson) and Blake (Cooper) have been great all year, but if I do need to pitch Friday, then I’ll be ready.

On playing at home for the regional:
We’re excited that we were going to be hosting here in Columbia. It looks like a good field for the regional, so we’re hoping for a good turnout.