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May 16, 2011

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (41-11, 20-7 SEC) hosts UNC Asheville (15-33, 7-17 Big South) in the final home game of the regular season on Tuesday night at Carolina Stadium. First pitch is at 7 p.m. with the game televised live on SportSouth and can be heard also on the Gamecock Radio Network. South Carolina ranks No. 2 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll and No. 3 in the Baseball America Top 25 and Collegiate Baseball Top 30.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina – Steven Neff (Jr. LHP) 3-1, 2.45 ERA, 33.0 IP, 8 BB, 26 SO
UNC Asheville – TBA

South Carolina continued the 2011 season with non-conference wins over Presbyterian and Charleston Southern along with winning two of three games at home vs. Arkansas to take the weekend series. South Carolina has won 12 of 13 three-game series this year. South Carolina is 41-11 overall and 20-7 in the SEC. South Carolina is in a three-way tie for first place in the SEC with Florida and Vanderbilt heading into the final weekend of conference play.

With the 6-5 win on Saturday, it marks South Carolina’s 12th consecutive season with 40 or more wins; the Gamecocks are the only team in the Southeastern Conference to win 40 or more games in each of the last 12 seasons.

Entering this weekend with just 28 at bats for the season, Steven Neff was a key bat for Carolina in the series victory over Arkansas. In Saturday’s 6-5 win, Neff hit his first career home run, a two-run shot, and was 3-for-4 with a double as well as Carolina defeated the Razorbacks. Neff followed that up with three more hits in Sunday’s 7-1 victory including two more home runs, only the second time this season that a Gamecock player has had two home runs in a game. In addition, Neff also showed off his arm this week as the left-hander earned a win in the 6-1 midweek victory over Presbyterian as he worked five innings and allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk. He is now 3-1 on the year on the mound.

Sophomore right-hander Colby Holmes came within one pitch of a complete game shutout as South Carolina clinched a series victory over Arkansas with a 7-1 win on Sunday afternoon. Holmes (5-2) pitched 8.2 innings – the longest outing by a South Carolina pitcher this season – giving up just one run on six hits while tying a career-high with seven strikeouts and walking just one Razorback hitter. 8.2 innings is a career-high as well for Holmes. A solo home run by Arkansas with two strikes and two outs in the ninth broke up what would have been South Carolina’s first complete-game shutout of the season. For the season, Holmes is 5-2 with a 3.70 ERA in 58.1 innings with 55 strikeouts to just 14 walks. Opponents are hitting just .228 against him.

Senior second baseman Scott Wingo’s leadoff solo home run in the bottom of the ninth gave South Carolina a thrilling 6-5 victory over Arkansas on Saturday at Carolina Stadium. He had three hits in the victory. It was Wingo’s third walk-off hit of the year along with a game-winning RBI single in a 2-1 win over Auburn on April 29 and also drove in the winning run in the ninth in a 2-1 win over Georgia. In addition, Wingo was 2-for-3 in the 7-1 win on Sunday. For the season, Wingo is hitting .331 (58-for-175) with four homers, 25 RBI a .451 slugging percentage and a .466 on-base percentage. Wingo’s on-base percentage is fourth best in the league and he has walked 37 times, second highest in the league as well. He leads Carolina in SEC games hitting at a .361 clip, 11th best in the conference. Wingo is now fourth on the all-time games played list at Carolina with 237 games with the Garnet & Black, one behind Andrew Crisp, who is third with 238 games. Sophomore right-hander Matt Price earned a win in the 6-5 victory over Arkansas and struck out four batters in 2.1 innings of work. He has finished a league-high 15 SEC games with five victories and seven saves in those conference tilts. His 1.32 ERA is the best among all SEC pitchers in SEC games also. For the season, Price is 5-3 with a 2.41 ERA and 13 saves in 25 appearances. He has struck out 50 batters in 37.1 innings; opponents are only hitting .197 against him.

Senior outfielder/catcher Robert Beary was 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in the 7-1 win over Arkansas. Beary’s average has climbed up to .302 (45-for-149) and he has 26 RBI to go along with 24 runs scored. His batting average is fourth highest on the team.

Senior catcher Brady Thomas has been hot at the plate as well with his average up to .335 (60-for-179) for the season. Thomas collected three hits in the 6-5 win over Arkansas on Saturday. He was also 3-for-5 with two RBI in the win over Charleston Southern.

Despite taking a loss on Friday night vs. Arkansas, junior left-hander Michael Roth gave the Gamecocks another quality start. Roth scattered 10 hits in 5.1 innings with three runs allowed, two earned, on 10 hits in 5.1 innings with five strikeouts and a walk. For the season, Roth is 10-2 with a 1.35 ERA in 93.0 innings. He has 83 strikeouts to 21 walks and opponents hitting .220 against him. Roth’s 1.35 ERA is listed as the best in the SEC. His 10-win total is second best as well. Innings pitched is third highest in the league as is strikeouts.

Senior reliever John Taylor leads the SEC with 35 relief appearances. He is 4-1 with a 1.07 ERA in 50.1 innings with 53 strikeouts to just 17 walks. Opponents are hitting only .173 against Taylor. Taylor appeared in all three games this weekend vs. the Razorbacks. His 35 appearances, is sixth highest for a single season all-time by a Gamecock pitcher and just two short of the school record.

Sophomore first baseman Christian Walker leads the team with a .360 batting average (73-for-203) with a 16 doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 51 RBI. The 51 RBI is tied for the league lead right now. He has a .445 on-base percentage and a .581 slugging percentage also. His slugging percentage ranks fourth in the SEC, his on-base percentage fifth best in the SEC and batting average seventh best also.

South Carolina is 34-0 on the year when leading after six innings and 37-0 on the year when leading after eight innings. Carolina is 38-5 when limiting teams to just five runs or less. Also in superlatives, Carolina owns a 32-3 record when out-hitting the opponent. South Carolina is 13-7 in games decided by two runs or less.

South Carolina’s pitching staff owns a 2.72 ERA, second best in the league. Opponents are hitting just .228 against the team and the team has 420 strikeouts; both marks are second best in the SEC as well. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in SEC games with a 2.54 ERA in 27 conference contests. Opponents are hitting just .227 in conference games as well.

For the season, South Carolina is hitting .298 on the year as a team (519-for-1741) fifth best in the conference. Carolina’s .393 on-base percentage is second best in the conference and the team’s .442 slugging percentage is fourth best in the SEC.

South Carolina leads the SEC with a .975 fielding percentage. Carolina’s .976 fielding mark in SEC games ties for the best in the league also.