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June 21, 2010

College World Series Central

Omaha, Neb. – South Carolina (48-16) and Arizona State (52-9) will meet in an elimination game on Tuesday afternoon at Rosenblatt Stadium in the 2010 College World Series. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET with the game televised live on ESPN2HD. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at Carolina will start junior right-hander Sam Dyson (5-5, 4.35 ERA) with Arizona State countering with junior right-hander Merrill Kelly (10-2, 3.57 ERA).

This will be only the seventh meeting between South Carolina and Arizona State in the history between the two schools in baseball. Arizona State leads the series history 4-2 with five of the six contests at the College World Series. The two schools last met on June 6, 1981 in Omaha with the Sun Devils eliminating the Gamecocks 10-7. South Carolina also fell to Arizona State twice in 1977 at the College World Series 6-2 and 2-1 in the NCAA Championship game. Carolina defeated Arizona State twice in 1975 at the College World Series with victories of 6-3 and 4-1 respectively. The first meeting between South Carolina and Arizona State was on March 21, 1972 in Riverside, Calif. where Arizona State earned a 5-1 win.

South Carolina junior right-hander Sam Dyson was the highest drafted player on this year’s South Carolina baseball team. Dyson was been selected in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He was the No. 126 overall pick in the draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. For the season, Dyson is 5-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 89.0 innings pitched. He has 93 strikeouts and opponents are batting just .259 against him.

He earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors following his six-hit complete game shutout as the Gamecocks defeated nationally ranked Arkansas 5-0 clinching 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. This was 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.

Sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had two hits and extended his hitting streak to 17 games in the 4-3 loss to Oklahoma on Sunday. He hit a solo home run as well for his 12th homer of the year, tying him for the team lead with Whit Merrifield. Bradley leads the Gamecocks with a .373 batting average (81-for-217) and has a team-high 53 RBI as well. He also leads the team with 26 multi-hit games and is tied with 13 multi-RBI games also.

Freshman first baseman Christian Walker has been hot at the plate recently including a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a solo home run on Sunday vs. Oklahoma. Walker is hitting .478 (11-for-23) in the last five games and has also driven in 10 runs in that span. On the year, Walker has a .320 batting average (64-for-200) with eight HR and 47 RBI.

Coming back from a first-game loss is nothing new for South Carolina at the College World Series. Carolina has lost in the first game in seven consecutive CWS appearances. However in those previous seven appearances, only twice did Carolina fall in the second game as the Gamecocks have battled back in elimination game after elimination game. In 2004, the Gamecocks won three straight games after losing the opener and in 2002 the Gamecocks made it all the way to the championship game with four straight wins after falling in the opening game. South Carolina is now 17-17 (.500) in all-time College World Series history.

The Gamecocks are 23-2 when scoring in the first inning and 32-6 on the year when scoring first. The team also owns a 37-1 record when entering the top of the seventh inning with a lead and 45-1 when owning a lead entering the top of the ninth inning. South Carolina is 18-12 in games decided by three runs or less.

Caleb Bushyhead drove in two runs and tallied a solo home run and Garrett Buechele also homered as Oklahoma held on for a 4-3 victory over South Carolina on day two of the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium. It was a wild day at Rosenblatt Stadium as the start time was delayed four hours and 15 minutes by rain with an additional two hour and one minute delay just before the start of the bottom of the sixth inning as well. Oklahoma is now 50-16 on the year while the loss drops Carolina to 48-16 for the season. South Carolina will next play on Tuesday, June 22 at 4:30 p.m. ET against the loser of the Arizona State-Clemson game in an elimination contest.

Trailing 3-2 in the top of the eighth inning, South Carolina looked to tie the game up loading the bases with a one-out single by Whit Merrifield and a pair of two-out walks to Adrian Morales and Christian Walker. Oklahoma reliever Jeremy Erben was able to get out of the jam though as Brady Thomas lined a hard shot into right field that was corralled by Cody Reine. Oklahoma got some important insurance in the bottom of the eighth on Bucechele’s solo home run to take a two-run lead. Carolina again battled in the top of the ninth as Kyle Enders singled to left field followed by a base hit to right field by pinch hitter Robert Beary. With one out, the Gamecocks then loaded the bases on a walk to Evan Marzilli. Oklahoma reliever Ryan Duke got the second out of the inning with Whit Merrifield popping up to Buechele in follow territory right near third base. Down to its final out, Carolina’s Jackie Bradley Jr. walked on four pitches scoring Enders and cutting the Sooners lead to just one run. Duke however stayed composed and was able to get Adrian Morales to fly out to center field ending the game and giving Oklahoma the victory.

Oklahoma starter Michael Rocha worked six innings and allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts to earn the win. He is 8-2 on the year. Carolina starter Blake Cooper suffered the loss and is now 12-2 for the season. He allowed three runs on six hits in five innings with five strikeouts and one walk. Oklahoma closer Ryan Duke earned his 12th save of the year with one shutout inning of relief.

“I realize (it was) a long day at the yard but despite the length and the conditions, it turned out to be a really good college baseball game,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “They took advantage of some run-scoring opportunities. Buechele gave them a little bit of a cushion there with a home run. We battled. We had some good at-bats. Never came up with a really big hit. Brady Thomas squared that ball up. I guess that was the in the eighth inning, but right at Reine. So it didn’t go down. But we battled and Oklahoma did a nice job winning the ball game.”

Oklahoma broke ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Chris Ellison led off with a single and was sacrificed over to second base. With two outs and Ellison still on second, the Sooners grabbed the lead on a RBI single to right center by Tyler Ogle. Carolina struck back quickly to tie it at 1-1 in the top of the second inning as Christian Walker led off with a solo home run to left center, his eighth homer of the year. Walker crushed a 1-0 pitch from Rocha for his second consecutive home run in as many at bats.

The Sooners reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the second with Caleb Bushyhead delivering a solo home run to right field, his sixth round tripper of the year as Oklahoma went back ahead 2-1 on the Gamecocks. Carolina again answered with a home run as Jackie Bradley Jr. tagged his 12th homer of the season to right field knotting the game at two apiece in the top of the fourth. Oklahoma would again reclaim the lead with a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cody Reine opened the frame with a single and was sacrificed over. With two outs and Reine on second base, Bushyhead drove in his second run of the game with a RBI single down the right field line.

South Carolina out-hit Oklahoma 9-7 in the loss. Bradley, Walker and Thomas all had two hits apiece. Bradley now has a 17-game hitting streak on the year. Reine and Bushyhead led Oklahoma at the plate with two hits apiece as well.

South Carolina’s pitching staff continues to show why its one of the best in the country. The Gamecocks have a 3.62 team ERA with 575 strikeouts to just 209 walks in 574.2 innings. Opponents are hitting just .230 against the team also.

The Gamecocks are hitting .302 for the season (670-for-2219) with 92 homers a .396 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage.

South Carolina continues to be one of the top fielding teams as well as the squad owns a .975 fielding percentage with just 60 errors in 64 games.

Freshman right-hander Matt Price is among the top relievers in the country and recently earned Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball. Price showcased his skills at the NCAA Super Regional as he earned a pair of saves vs. Coastal Carolina to help the Gamecocks clinch a spot in Omaha at the College World Series. In the first game, Price came in with the bases loaded and no outs with a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning and struck out a pair of Chanticleer batters and induced the third into a ground out to preserve the one-run lead. He worked through the ninth inning as well to pick up the save. In the clincher, Price retired all three batters he faced in the ninth inning.

Price owns a 3-1 record with a 2.54 ERA in 27 appearances and is among SEC leaders with 10 saves. He has hurled 46 innings and has 68 strikeouts to 18 walks. Opponents are batting just .182 against him. Price also picked up a save in the 9-5 win over The Citadel in the NCAA Regional.

Since being inserted into the starting lineup in the NCAA Regional opener vs. Bucknell, freshman outfielder Evan Marzilli has delivered with eight hits in the last six games. He is hitting .373 (25-for-67) for the season with 23 runs scored and has a .506 on-base percentage and a .597 slugging percentage. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team.

Another key ingredient of the bullpen has been sophomore left-hander Michael Roth, who has been key in a match-up situation. Roth is among SEC leaders with 34 appearances on the year. He owns a 1.44 ERA in 25.0 innings and has struck out 27 batters. Opponents are batting just .207 against him. He also has three saves and has compiled a 1-1 record.