South Carolina Opens Up 2008 Season On Friday Vs. East Carolina
Gamecocks Enter the Year Ranked as High as No. 2 in the Nation
Feb. 21, 2008
Columbia, S.C. -
Game Notes in PDF Format
The season opening baseball game between South Carolina and East Carolina scheduled for Friday, Feb. 22 has been postponed due to inclement weather and more rain in the forecast for the Columbia (S.C.) area. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday (February 23) with the first game scheduled for 1:30 pm and the second game to start at 7 pm to accommodate Gamecock fans planning to attend the South Carolina-Mississippi State basketball game that starts at 4 pm at the Colonial Center. Both baseball games are slated for nine innings.
GamecocksOnline.com and Gamecock All-Access will have live audio and video coverage of both games. Live gametracker stats will also be available. Sunday's series finale will be also broadcast live on 107.5 FM "The Game." First pitch for that game is set for 1:30 pm.
SC Mike Cisco, Jr. (RHP) 6-3, 3.84 ERA, 86.2 IP, 74 K, 18 BB
ECU TJ Hose, Sr. (RHP) 6-5, 3.97 ERA, 95.1 IP, 70 K, 45 BB
SC Blake Cooper, So. (RHP) 7-2, 4.48 ERA, 60.1 IP, 44 K, 23 BB
ECU Seth Maness, Fr. (RHP) First career start and appearance for ECU
SC Craig Thomas, Jr. (LHP) 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 7.1 IP, 10 K, 2 BB
ECU Justin Bristow, Jr. (RHP) 1-6, 9.30 ERA, 30.0 IP, 25 K, 13 BB -- transfer from Auburn
South Carolina head baseball coach Ray Tanner met with the media on Thursday afternoon to discuss this weekend's series with East Carolina. Below are quotes from today's press conference.
(On possible bad weather)
"It's certainly in the forecast right now to have some issues with the weather, but we've been there done that. That's part of playing baseball so we'll see what happens. The forecast isn't favorable but the weekend is so if we end up having to play a doubleheader Saturday or Sunday, that's what we'll do."
(Starting the season versus a ranked opponent)
"I do like starting the season this way. Is it good scheduling? Probably not when you play in the SEC, but we originally were going to have East Carolina here to open our new stadium. That's not happening, but Billy Godwin is an outstanding coach. He's in his third year down there. I think a lot of him. I like the way he runs his program. I think it's a great early match up for both of us."
(Game time decision for second base and left field)
"It's a game time and probably weather-related decision. Andrew (Crisp) has looked pretty good, but he's really only been working out for a week and a half. He's not as physical as he needs to be yet. His conditioning is a little bit short. His skills are pretty good for someone that hasn't worked out a lot. He's going to say he's ready to go and ready to play 75 games, but I've got to be careful there and give him some time. I don't think he can be a full-time player right now. (Justin) Hopper won the job (in left field in the fall). He was slow in the spring with a hamstring injury. It was a pretty serious injury. He's worked his way back and he looks close to 100%. He didn't get as many at bats as I wanted him to in the preseason. DeAngelo Mack is at his best since he's been here. In the preseason he swung his bat pretty well. He hit a couple of home runs using the other side of the field. He looks like a guy that has waited his turn and is ready to play. We'll make a decision. Both of them may play. We may go back and forth."
(On the progress of DeAngelo Mack)
"He's a guy that from a coach's standpoint wasn't ready when he got here. Over time he's gained strength, he's gained experience, and is getting better. He's made a lot of progress. The preseason is the best I've ever seen him play. He runs pretty (well). He's been playing pretty good in left field. He has some power in his bat. Had a couple of homeruns in the preseason. He's using the left side of the field, which he hasn't been able to do earlier in his career. I'm happy with where he is. He gives us more depth than I thought we would have in the fall."
"We always have some. Everybody has some. It seems like we have more this time than ever. We're getting Andrew (Crisp) back. (Justin) Hopper is close to being 100%. (Sam) Dyson threw last weekend. (Brandon) Todd is close. (Will) Atwood could get an appearance this weekend. I don't know that he will, but it is possible. Quite honestly I don't like talking about it. I don't dwell on it certainly. Like I tell the players, you gotta win anyway. If you're hurt, if it's cold, if it's raining, you gotta win anyway. Those are just crutches. We can't go into battle with that kind of attitude. If somebody doesn't play, somebody has to step up."
"(Alex) Farotto is good. He missed one weekend with a hip flexor. He's good. (Jordan) Costner is probably the farthest away than anybody. It may even be midseason before we get him back. (Tyler) Musselwhite is fine. Brandon Todd was one that was slow (to recover), but I think he's fine as well. We'll see what happens, but we are getting some guys back."
(On the high expectations and predictions for this year)
"Well, I hope they're right. We have a lot to prove. We have a good-looking lineup. Guys that can play defense. We don't have any first round pitchers. We have some depth I think, but we have to go out and prove that we can be a good team. I think we'll be better later on than we are now. I think that as some of these pitchers get healthy and get a little more experience that we'll be a little better later on. But you know what? You have to win now too. You can't let games get away from you now and try to make them up later. That's not how it works. You have to win now and hopefully you're better later."
(On the pitching rotation for this weekend)
"It was a push, I think. I told Coach Calvi on Sunday I wanted to sleep on it. I slept on it. Then I told him Monday I wanted to sleep on it again. I think more than anything, starting Mike Cisco, and then Blake Cooper, and then running Nick Godwin out behind those guys would have been three similar right-handers and I just wanted to change it. They're even, as far as I'm concerned. Nick (Godwin) will probably start the UNC Asheville game if he doesn't start this weekend. I just wanted to give us a different look. Parker Bangs missed one weekend. He had a death in the family. He was taken out of the consideration for the weekend rotation, but he'll be in the bullpen."
"I'd like Craig Thomas to take advantage of his opportunity. He's a young man that's been in this program; he's been hurt though. He's been waiting his turn to pitch. He's confident in his ability and now he's going to get it. Hopefully he'll be ready to step up."
(On how the team will handle the expectations)
"It's one of those things that I don't pay attention to. I don't think there will be issues, but I know Justin Smoak, Reese Havens, Phil Disher, Harley Lail, and those guys more than anything they want to win. They want to win the next game. I don't think they'll get to wrapped up in the future and what can happen and this, that, and the other. They just want to win games."
A LOOK AT THE POLLS
The Gamecocks are ranked among the top teams in the nation coming in at No. 2 (Collegiate Baseball) No. 3 (ESPN/USA Today Coaches') and No. 12 (Baseball America) in the three major collegiate polls.
OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN
South Carolina has announced its captains for the 2008 season as voted on by the team. Junior infielder Reese Havens hase been named captain for a second straight season and he will be joined by senior catcher Phil Disher and junior pitcher Mike Cisco.
Havens has started 130 games at shortstop the past two years and earned All-Star honors this summer for Cotuit in the Cape Cod Baseball League. He is ranked the No. 24 junior in the nation by Perfect Game Cross Checker and the No. 37 college prospect for the 2008 MLB Draft by Baseball America.
Phil Disher returns for his senior season after a strong 2007 season that saw him earn All-America honors from the NCBWA at designated hitter after hitting .328 with 15 HR and 63 RBI. Disher was named Player of the Fall by the team and is the No. 17 senior in the nation according to Perfect Game Cross Checker.
Mike Cisco is in his junior season and will get the start on Opening Day for the Gamecocks vs. the Pirates. Cisco has recorded 13 wins in his first two seasons with 175.1 innings logged and a cumulative ERA of 3.90. Cisco also competed in the Cape Cod Baseball League this past summer with Cotuit.
LAST TIME AGAINST EAST CAROLINA
South Carolina's last two meetings vs. the East Carolina Pirates came in the postseason in the 2003 NCAA Regional in Atlanta, Ga. and the 2004 NCAA Super Regional in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks came away with victories in all three games played vs. the Pirates in these two postseason appearances.
The 2004 NCAA Super Regional saw South Carolina come away with victories of 4-2 and 5-3 to advance to Omaha and the College World Series for a third straight appearance. The 4-2 win featured a solid start by left-hander Matt Campbell and a home run from Steve Pearce. The 5-3 win that clinched a spot in the CWS saw the Gamecocks score three runs in the eighth inning including a game-winning two-run RBI double from Steve Tolleson. All-America closer Chad Blackwell came away with a pair of saves in both games as well.
In the 2003 Regional in Atlanta, the Gamecocks received a five-hit complete game shutout by senior right-hander Chris Hernandez as Carolina defeated the Pirates 4-0. Kevin Melillo also homered in the victory. South Carolina leads the all-time series history 13-4.
FEBRUARY AND THE GAMECOCKS
Carolina has a near perfect record over the last eight seasons in the month of February. Dating back to the 2000 season, Carolina is 75-3 (.962) in games played in the month of February. The three losses came against Charleston Southern in 2003 , vs. Elon in 2006 and The Citadel in 2007.
SOUTH CAROLINA VS. NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
South Carolina fared well last year in home games vs. non-conference teams with a perfect 18-0 mark in the 2007 season. The Gamecocks were 29-7 (.805) overall against a non-conference opponent. South Carolina has a 224-49 record (.824) as well over the last eight years.
SOUTH CAROLINA PICKED SECOND IN THE EASTERN DIVISION
The SEC Coaches have weighed in and the Gamecocks are slotted second in the Eastern Division in the 2008 SEC Preseason Coaches Poll announced on Thursday morning (Februrary 14). Carolina finished in second place in the East last year. The Gamecocks received three first place votes for the East as well as three first place votes for the overall championship.
THREE GAMECOCKS NAMED TO GOLDEN SPIKES AWARD WATCH LIST
Three South Carolina baseball players have been named to the 2008 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, as announced on Friday afternoon (February 15). James Darnell, Phil Disher and Justin Smoak are three of the 75 collegiate baseball players to be named to the list. South Carolina is one of only five schools to have three representatives nominated.
Smoak was a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award as a sophomore last season. He is a preseason All-America choice by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball and hit 22 HR with 72 RBI and a .315 batting average last year. Darnell is also a preseason All-America selection by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball and is the team's leading returning hitter after hitting .331 as a sophomore with 19 HR and 63 RBI. Disher earned All-America honors last year by the NCBWA and returns for his senior season at the catcher/designated hitter spot after hitting .328 with 15 HR and 63 RBI in the 2007 campaign.
The initial list - the first ever of its kind for the Golden Spikes Award, was nominated by baseball sports information directors across the country. The watch list will also be "rolling" to ensure that athletes who play themselves into consideration by USA Baseball for the Golden Spikes Award are not ignored. The Golden Spikes Award is sponsored by Major League Baseball, and 2008 marks the 31st installment of the award.
On May 20, USA Baseball officials will cut the watch list of players to 50 names. The final list of 50 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.
Additionally, for the first time ever, fan voting will be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2008. May 20 will also mark the day when college baseball fans from across the country will be able to vote for their favorite player for the Golden Spikes Award on www.usabaseball.com. As part of this May selection process all voters will be asked to choose five players from the list of 50 names. On June 3, USA Baseball will announce the five finalists, and voting will once again commence that same day. The 2008 Golden Spikes Award will be presented on July 16.
South Carolina has one past Golden Spikes Award Winner, former pitcher Kip Bouknight, who earned the award after compiling a 17-1 record for the Gamecocks in the 2000 season.