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April 21, 2011

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Coach Tanner Press Conference

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (29-7, 12-3 SEC) is back in SEC play this weekend with a three-game series at Mississippi State (23-14, 6-9 SEC). Friday’s series opener is at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPNU. Saturday’s game is at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised live on SportSouth. The Sunday series finale is at 2:30 p.m. ET. All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network. South Carolina is ranked No. 2 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25, Collegiate Baseball’s Top 30 and the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina – Michael Roth (Jr. LHP) 8-1, 1.24 ERA, 65.1 IP, 15 BB, 62 SO
Mississippi State – Chris Stratton (So. RHP) 4-4, 4.66 ERA, 56.0 IP, 21 BB, 55 SO

South Carolina – Colby Holmes (So. RHP) 3-1, 4.19 ERA, 34.1 IP, 9 BB, 32 SO
Mississippi State – Nick Routt (Jr. LHP) 0-2, 4.91 ERA, 18.1 IP, 5 BB, 17 SO

South Carolina – Forrest Koumas (Fr. RHP) 4-0, 2.35 ERA, 38.1 IP, 13 BB, 36 SO
Mississippi State – TBA

South Carolina-Mississippi State Series
Series Record: South Carolina leads 30-25
Series Began/Last Meeting: 1981/2010
Last Score: 4/4/10 – SC (14) MSU (2)
SC Current Streak: W1

With a 4-3 lead entering the top of the seventh inning, second ranked South Carolina batted around and extended the lead to five on its way to an 8-3 victory over College of Charleston on Tuesday night at Patriots Point. Carolina is now 29-7 on the year while the loss drops College of Charleston to 23-15 for the season.

Leading by a run, the Gamecocks started off the seventh inning with walks to Scott Wingo and Christian Walker. After a balk advanced the runners to second and third base, Adrian Morales knocked a base hit by shortstop Jamie Holler scoring both runners and extending the Carolina lead to 6-3. They would add to it with a two-run double by Peter Mooney that gave Carolina an 8-3 cushion. Eight of nine Gamecock position starters had at least one hit. Brady Thomas was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Robert Beary 2-for-5 with two RBI to lead the Gamecocks at the plate.

Junior left-handed reliever Bryan Harper worked 2.1 scoreless innings and did not allow a hit while striking out three and walking four to pick up the win. He is 1-0 with his first victory in a Gamecock uniform with the win.

South Carolina continued the 2011 season winning two of three games vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt in a three-game SEC baseball series. Carolina has now won all nine three-game series it has played this year including a pair against No. 1 teams. South Carolina sits in first place in the SEC, 28-7 overall with a 12-3 record in league play. The Gamecocks have also completed play against Eastern Division opponents, with only SEC West teams left.

South Carolina junior left-hander Michael Roth has been named SEC Pitcher of the Week. Roth did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and limited the Commodores to just one run on three hits in a 3-1 win on Friday night in the series opener vs. Vanderbilt. The three-hit total was the lowest in a game this season for the Commodores, who came into the weekend as the top hitting team in the conference. Roth’s eight strikeout total was one short of his career high.

For the season, Roth leads the SEC with an 8-1 record and a 1.24 ERA. His 65.1 innings is also the most by a pitcher in the SEC. He is third in the league in strikeouts (62) and fifth in the league in opposing batting average (.209).

It is the third straight week a Gamecock has been honored with a conference award. Last week, Colby Holmes was SEC Pitcher of the Week and two weeks ago Forrest Koumas earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Week accolades.

Sophomore right-hander Matt Price was key in both wins over top ranked Vanderbilt. The sophomore Gamecock reliever factored into two wins this weekend with a save in the 3-1 victory on Friday night and a victory in Sunday’s 5-3 win in the rubber game vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt. Price was dominant in his stints with 4.1 scoreless innings of relief. 11 of the 13 outs he tallied were by strikeout. All four batters he faced in Friday’s win struck out as he picked up the save. Sunday, he worked a season-high three innings and limited VU to just two hits and struck out a season-high seven batters to pick up his fourth win of the year. Price is second in the league with 11 saves. He had 37 strikeouts in 26.2 innings with opponents batting just .196 against him. 18 of his 20 relief appearances he has not allowed a run.

Top Saves All-Time
30 Rob Mosser (1990-93)
28 Brian Beatson (1987-90)
22 Blake Taylor (2001-02)
22 Lee Gronkiewicz (1999-2001)
21 Matt Price (2009-11)

All three games vs. Vanderbilt were played in front of 8,242 fans, three consecutive sellouts at Carolina Stadium adding to seven for the season. The three-game series attendance was 24,726, the best three-game mark in Carolina Stadium history.

There have been great crowds at Carolina Stadium this year with seven total sellouts. The Gamecocks had sellouts of 8,242 in the first two games vs. Santa Clara as well as the Friday victory over Clemson and the 4-3 10-inning win over Kentucky on April 2. For the season, the Gamecocks have a total attendance of 184,183 for an average of 7,367.

South Carolina has flashed the leather as of late with just two errors in the last 10 games played. The Gamecocks lead the SEC with a .978 fielding percentage and just 31 errors in 36 games for the season.

South Carolina’s pitching staff continues to be one of the best in the nation. For the season, the Gamecocks own a team ERA of 2.55 with 299 strikeouts to just 112 walks. Opponents are hitting only .214 in 321.0 innings pitched. Opposing batting average leads the league with ERA second in the SEC and strikeouts third. In 15 SEC games this year, Carolina’s pitching staff has compiled a 12-3 record and a 1.93 ERA. Through conference play, opponents have just 31 runs on 90 hits in 135 innings and are hitting just .195. The 1.93 ERA and .195 opponents batting average leads the SEC in SEC games.

At Tennessee, South Carolina’s pitching staff had its best weekend of the season with just one run allowed in 27 innings pitched. The Volunteers has just 15 hits for three games with a .179 batting average and Carolina finished with 24 strikeouts and just six walks allowed as well.

In a home series vs. Kentucky, the Gamecock pitching staff allowed just five runs the entire weekend and Kentucky hit only .181 as a team with just three extra base hits. The staff ERA for the weekend was 1.61.

The South Carolina pitching staff also has a tremendous weekend against the Gators in Gainesville. The Gamecock pitching staff allowed just six earned runs in 26 innings of play and the Gators hit just .217 in the series at McKethan Stadium. The staff ERA for the weekend was 2.08.

For the season, the Gamecocks are hitting .287 (343-for-1196) as a team with a .438 slugging percentage, third best in the SEC. The team leads the SEC with 32 home runs. Carolina also has a .386 on-base percentage, fifth best in conference play

South Carolina is 23-0 after six innings with a lead and 27-0 on the year after eight innings with a lead. The Gamecocks are 23-2 when out-hitting an opponent and 11-5 in games decided by two runs or less. Carolina is 27-4 when holding an opponent to five runs or less.

Senior second baseman Scott Wingo hit .400 (6-for-15) in four games last week and currently leads the team in hitting with a .330 overall average (38-for-115). Wingo has been stellar and owns a 13-game hitting streak heading into this weekend’s series. He had two hits and a RBI in the 3-1 win vs. Vanderbilt and drove in a pair of runs in the 5-3 victory over the Commodores. Wingo has the team’s best batting average in SEC games as well with a .388 average (19-for-49) in league games. He is seventh on the all-time list at Carolina in games played with 221, tied with Trey Dyson (1999-2002) for sixth place.

Wingo has played stellar defense as well with a .9845 fielding percentage and just three errors this year in 195 chances. Wingo holds the school records for putouts and assists for a second baseman. He has fielded .972 in his career. Wingo also holds the school career record for hit by pitches with 53 so far in his career.

All-Time Games Played List
255 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05-06
251 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-04
238 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09
236 Mac White 1991-92-93-94
223 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-93
221 Scott Wingo 2008-09-10-11
221 Trey Dyson 1999-00-01-02

Sophomore first baseman Christian Walker has been the top run producer for the Gamecocks with a .329 batting average as well as seven HR and 37 RBI. He currently is second in the SEC with 37 RBI and seven homers.He has a .406 on-base percentage and a .571 slugging percentage as well. Walker has reached base at least once in 22 straight games as well.

Walker had a career night in the 18-2 win over USC Upstate as he went 5-for-6 with a grand slam and five RBI in the victory.

Junior outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. got the bat going on Sunday in the 5-3 win over Vanderbilt. He was 2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored in the win. Bradley is hitting .275 (36-for-131) with six homers and 26 RBI. He has a .496 slugging percentage.

With a home run. Rhode Island, Bradley became the 24th player in South Carolina history to record 200 or more career hits with his home run on Wednesday vs. URI. Bradley currently has 214 career hits.

Senior right-hander John Taylor has been a workhorse out of the bullpen for the Gamecocks. He leads the team and the SEC with 22 relief appearances and is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA. He had two scoreless innings at College of Charleston as well as 20 of 22 appearances without a run scored this year.

Taylor was key in game two and game three of the Tennessee series. He worked 1.2 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts in the 2-0 win vs. the Vols and retired the lone batter he faced in the 2-1 win over UT.

South Carolina has reached the halfway point in SEC play with a 12-3 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 Finish2011        12-3    N/A N/A N/A2010        11-4    10-5    21-9    2nd2009        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

The Gamecock bullpen has been a strength for this year’s team with 14 different pitchers providing relief appearances on the year. The bullpen has earned 12 wins and tallied 13 saves heading into the weekend. The group has a 2.40 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 138.2 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .205 against the pen.

Carolina’s bullpen came up big in relief in the rubber game victory vs. Florida as three relievers combined to shut the Gators down as Carolina rallied for a 4-3 win over Florida. Sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes went three scoreless allowing just one hit and striking out a pair of batters. Senior right-hander John Taylor followed and allowed just two hits in 1.2 scoreless. Sophomore right-hander Matt Price closed it down to get his second win of the year. He allowed just one hit in 2.1 innings with a strikeout.

Four South Carolina relievers also combined to limit Georgia to just one run on three hits in eight innings of work I as South Carolina defeated Georgia 8-3 to also win a rubber game. Gamecock freshman right-hander Forrest Koumas allowed just one run on two hits in 3.1 innings of work to earn the win. Senior right-hander John Taylor worked 2.1 hitless innings and tallied a strikeout, junior left-hander Bryan Harper struck out the lone batter he faced and sophomore closer Matt Price worked two scoreless innings with four strikeouts to pick up the save. The four relievers along with Gamecock starter Adam Westmoreland combined for 14 strikeouts, a season-high in a game for the Gamecock pitching staff.

South Carolina sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes earned SEC Pitcher of the Week after he worked a career-high seven innings and struck out career-high seven batters to earn the win in a 2-0 victory over Tennessee. Holmes was stellar the entire night as he limited the Vols to just three hits and no walks.

He is 3-1 on the year. Holmes has a 4.19 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched with 32 strikeouts to nine walks. Opponents are hitting only .237 against him.

Freshman right-hander Forrest Koumas is 4-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 38.1 innings with 36 strikeouts to just 13 walks.

Koumas earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors after he pitched 6.1 scoreless innings in the 4-1 win over Kentucky. Koumas, who spent three days in the hospital earlier in the week due to an allergic reaction, was effective in his second career start as he limited the Wildcats to just two hits and one walk while striking out three batters.

After earning SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors, Koumas served up an encore top performance as the Gamecock righty worked a career-high 7.1 innings and struck out a career-high seven batters and the Gamecocks rallied with two runs in the sixth inning to come from behind and defeat Tennessee 2-1 to sweep a three-game SEC baseball series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. After yielding a run in the first inning, Koumas settled in and limited the Vols to just three hits on the afternoon and two walks while tallying seven strikeouts.

Gamecock senior catcher Brady Thomas has started 27 games behind the plate for the Gamecocks and his bat came on fire this week. He tallied a career-high four hits at The Citadel on Tuesday night and also had two hits, two runs scored and two RBI on Saturday vs. Vanderbilt. For the season, Thomas is batting .309 (34-for-110) with four homers and 21 RBI.

South Carolina holds a 30-25 edge over Mississippi State in series history including winning two of three games played vs. the Bulldogs. Ironically, both teams played each other last year also on Easter Weekend in Columbia. Carolina won the opener 10-2 with MSU taking game two 8-7 and the Gamecocks defeating the Bulldogs 14-2 in the series finale.

South Carolina last won a series in Starkville in 2007 when the Gamecocks took two of three games from the Bulldogs at Polk-Dement Stadium.

The series began in Omaha in 1981 when Carolina defeated Mississippi State 6-5 at College World Series.

Junior Steven Neff saw action as a position player for the first time this year and was a big part of the 5-3 win on Sunday with a double in the seventh inning that was part of a four-run frame. Neff, a pitcher, pinch-hit on Saturday and was the starting designated hitter for Carolina on Sunday vs. Vanderbilt.

As a pitcher for the year, Neff is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched. He has 21 strikeouts to just seven walks as well. Neff had 1.2 scoreless innings at College of Charleston.

South Carolina has added a non-conference baseball game with Liberty on Tuesday, April 26 at 1 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The game is a makeup date for Carolina after the March 9 game vs. Davidson was canceled due to rain. Fans with tickets for the March 9 game are asked to bring those tickets for entry into the game between the Gamecocks and Liberty.

Liberty is coached by former Gamecock assistant Jim Toman, who served on South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner’s staff from the fall of 1996 to the summer of 2007. South Carolina is 5-2 vs. Liberty in all-time series history with the last meeting between the two schools in 2007 in Charleston, S.C. Carolina defeated the Flames 10-2 in the last contest.

All nine position starters had at least one hit in the 18-2 win over USC Upstate. The 20 hits by the Gamecocks are the most in the game this season for Carolina. In addition to Walker’s five-hit evening, five more Carolina players tallied multi-hit games. Peter Mooney, Adrian Morales, Brady Thomas, Evan Marzilli and Robert Beary had two hits apiece.

South Carolina’s top hitter for the weekend vs. Kentucky was junior shortstop Peter Mooney, who hit .444 (4-for-9) with four runs scored. He also walked twice and had two sacrifice hits. Mooney hit a solo home run in Friday’s 3-1 win and also tied a season-high with three hits in Sunday’s 4-1 victory.

For the season, Mooney is batting .259 (35-for-135) with a pair of homers and 14 RBI.

Senior infielder Adrian Morales tied a school record for doubles in a game with three in the 4-3 win over Kentucky on Saturday. Morales reached base five times and was 3-for-3 in the win. He scored the game-winning run in the victory as well. He is the 24th player in school history to have three doubles in a game; the last was Christian Walker on May 2010 at Kentucky.

Morales is fourth on the team with a .306 batting average (37-for-121) with 26 runs scored. Morales is second on the team with a .430 on-base percentage and also owns a .463 slugging percentage.