South Carolina Baseball Returns To Action Hosting Alabama This Weekend
April 29, 2010
Columbia, S.C. - South Carolina (32-8, 14-4 SEC) returns to action at home this weekend hosting a three-game conference series vs. Alabama (27-15, 8-10 SEC). First pitch for the opener on Friday night is set for 7 p.m. with Saturday's game at 1 p.m. and Sunday's series finale scheduled for 1:30 p.m. All three games can be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at GamecocksOnline.com. Saturday's game will also be televised on CSS-TV.
Probable Starting Pitchers
A pregame ceremony will be held at Carolina Stadium before Saturday's game to honor the 1981 team that reached the College World Series. Recently it was learned that the `81 squad never received rings for making it to Omaha, Neb. Almost 30 years later, the 1981 team will receive those rings. Saturday's game between South Carolina and Alabama is scheduled to start 1 p.m. and will be televised live on CSS-TV.
Members of the 1981 team that will be in attendance include the following: Jeb Babel, Ross Bledsoe, Chris Boyle, Rod Carraway, Jim Curl, Art Finley, Harvey Heise, Joe Kucharski, Eddie Leopard, Rocky Lewis, Rob Lowery, Dennis Lubert, John Simmons, John Sullivan, Robby Vollmer, Joey Wilson.
Also in attendance will be 1981 head coach June Raines and 1981 assistant coach Johnny Hunton.
A LOOK AT THE SOUTH CAROLINA-ALABAMA SERIES HISTORY
South Carolina scored four runs in the top of the 11th inning on its way to a 9-5 extra inning victory over Alabama on the first day of the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Bobby Haney scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch with Nick Ebert drawing a RBI bases loaded walk and Justin Dalles driving home a pair of runs on a two-out double as the Gamecocks broke a 5-5 tie to earn the victory.
The three hour and 57 minute game had several moments of truth before the Gamecocks broke the deadlock in the 11th inning. Haney jumpstarted the inning with a one-out double over the head of left fielder Kyle Moore and a bloop single by Scott Wingo and a hit by pitch against Whit Merrifield loaded the bases for Carolina. The go-ahead run would score then as reliever Jimmy Nelson threw low and past catcher Vin DeFazio allowing Haney to score. The Tide would then intentionally walk Carolina's batter, DeAngelo Mack, to load the bases for a second time for Nick Ebert. On a 3-2 pitch, Nelson threw low of the strike zone to walk Ebert and give Carolina a two-run cushion. With two outs and the bases still jammed, Justin Dalles gave Carolina some insurance with a two-run double off the left field wall putting Carolina ahead by four.
Alabama made things interesting in the bottom half of the frame, loading the bases with two outs and bringing the potential tying run to the plate in Jake Smith. On a 2-2 pitch from Gamecock reliever Alex Farotto, Smith hit a sharp-laced ball off the glove of the Gamecocks' left-hander. Farotto was able to move quickly to retrieve the ball and threw to first base to record the out and seal the Gamecock victory. Farotto's throw just beat Smith to first base, who showed tremendous hustle and was hurt trying to keep the inning alive for the Crimson Tide.
Farotto earned the win after 1.1 scoreless innings of work out of the pen. Alabama reliever Nathan Kilcrease was tough in relief for Alabama despite the loss. He did not allow run from the sixth-10th before finally being touched in the 11th inning. His line finished at five innings, three runs on three hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Crimson Tide held the advantage early and broke ahead 3-0 on Carolina starting pitcher Blake Cooper in the first inning. Alabama caught a couple of breaks as Josh Rutledge and Kent Matthes both hit infield singles sandwiched in between by another base hit by Ross Wilson that loaded the bases. Designated hitter Brandon May then put Alabama on the scoreboard with a two-run double to right center scoring both Rutledge and Wilson. The Tide would score their third run on a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of Jake Smith.
Alabama added a single run in the bottom of the fourth to increase the lead to 4-0. Alex Kubal led off with a double to left field and after advancing to third on a fly ball would score on Josh Rutledge's RBI ground out to shortstop.
Carolina cut Alabama's lead in half with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning. The Gamecocks put together a couple key two-out hits as Whit Merrifield doubled to advance Scott Wingo to third base and both would then score as DeAngelo Mack ripped a base hit to left center to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Gamecocks chased Alabama starter Del Howell in the sixth inning and went ahead 5-4 on the back of a three-run homer by Adam Matthews. Jackie Bradley, Jr. got things started with a leadoff single and advanced to third on Andrew Crisp's one-out base hit to right field. That set the stage for Matthews, who crushed a 1-1 pitch from Howell over the left center field wall to put the Gamecocks ahead for the first time on the evening. Matthews' home run was his third of the year. It remained 5-4 until Kent Matthes knocked a one-out solo home run to center field to tie the game. Matthes' homer was his league-leading 28th home run of the season.
Both starting pitchers, Cooper and Howell, allowed five runs on seven hits and struck out seven batters with two walks. Cooper went 6.2 innings with Howell finishing the night with 5.1 innings of work. South Carolina totaled 11 this to Alabama's eight on the night. Bradley was 3-for-6 to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Wingo also had two hits. Matthews' three RBI were a career-high.
SOUTH CAROLINA SWEEPS GEORGIA
JACKIE BRADLEY JR. INVITED TO USA BASEBALL COLLEGIATE NATIONAL TEAM TRIALS
Bradley got it rolling this weekend vs. Georgia batting .538 (7-for-13) in the series with a homer, three RBI and five runs scored vs. the Bulldogs. Bradley reached base five times with four hits including a homer and a game-winning RBI single in the top of the seventh inning as South Carolina held on for an 8-7 victory over Georgia in game two of the doubleheader. His four hits was a season-high as well. Bradley is batting .342 for the year (41-for-120) with three HR and 18 RBI. He has also walked 23 times and owns a .451 on-base percentage.
Several former Gamecocks have played on the Collegiate National Team including most recently, Justin Smoak (2007), who made his Major League Baseball debut this past Friday with the Texas Rangers. In addition to playing for Team USA in 2007, Smoak also played on the 2009 USA Baseball World Cup team that won a gold medal last September at the IBAF World Cup. Smoak earned the 2009 Richard W. "Dick" Case Award recognizing him as USA Baseball's Athlete of the Year. Smoak helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup in September in Europe. He set a U.S. World Cup record with nine home runs in the event, and he was named to the All-World Cup Team as well as the event's Most Valuable Player. Smoak finished the tournament with a .291 average, and in addition to pacing the team in home runs; he also topped the club with 22 RBIs and 16 runs scored. His performance earned him USA Baseball's nomination for the USOC September Athlete of the Month award, and he was later named the 2009 IBAF Senior Athlete of the Year.
Current Major Leaguers and former Gamecocks Landon Powell (2002) and Adam Everett (1997) also represented the Red, White & Blue on the Collegiate National Team. Everett also was on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team that won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games.
South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner also has association with USA Baseball. He has served five stints with the Red, White & Blue including his latest in 2003 as head coach for the USA National Baseball Team. At the helm of some of the top freshmen and sophomores in the country, Tanner's club finished with a 27-2 record, the best record for a U.S. National Team (.931 winning percentage) and won a silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. He was named the U.S. National Coach of the Year for his work that season. Prior to his head coaching stint, Tanner served as an auxiliary coach for the 2000 Olympic Team under Tommy Lasorda that won a gold medal at the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. He was also an assistant with the 1995-1996 USA teams under former LSU coach Skip Bertman that culminated in a bronze medal win at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Tanner also served alongside former Mississippi State coach Ron Polk on Bertman's staff. Tanner's first stint with USA Baseball came as an assistant coach to the national team in the summer of 1993.
Sam Dyson EARNS SEC PITCHER OF THE WEEK HONORS
Dyson is only the third SEC pitcher to record a complete game shutout this year and the second this season to do it in SEC play. Dyson finished with 69 strikes out of 96 pitches and allowed just one runner from Georgia to get in scoring position in the seven-inning shutout. All 21 putouts by the Gamecock came from the diamond, as Dyson struck out five batters and recorded 14 ground ball outs. The win was the first complete game shutout of Dyson's career. It helped clinch a series victory over Georgia, the first time since 2002 that the Gamecocks have won a series at Georgia. With the win, Dyson moved into a tie for 15th on the all-time career victory list at Carolina with 21 career wins.
Dyson earned a second straight win in conference play and is now 4-2 with 4.35 ERA on the year. He has 53 strikeouts to just nine walks in 51.2 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .259 against him on the year.
SOUTH CAROLINA BASEBALL IN THE RANKINGS
SHUT THEM OUT
THE PITCHING STAFF
COOP Senior right-handed pitcher Blake Cooper improved to 8-0 on the year with a victory in the 11-4 win over Georgia on Friday night. Cooper leads the SEC in victories with his 8-0 record and also leads the conference with 70.2 innings pitched. In addition, Cooper ranks third in the conference in opposing batting average (.190), fourth in strikeouts (66) and seventh in earned run average (2.67). Cooper allowed four runs on seven hits in eight innings in Friday's win. He struck out nine and walked one. With the win, Cooper moved up on the all-time career victory list at Carolina with 29 career wins. He is currently 10th on the school career list. His 29 career victories is tied with Daniel Bibona of UC Irvine for second highest among current players in Division l. Matt Ridings of Western Kentucky leads Division I with 32 career wins.
Two weeks ago Cooper earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors in a 5-0 win over Ole Miss. Cooper struck out a career-high 10 batters in the victory, his fifth complete game of his career but his first career complete game shutout. He allowed just four hits and one walk in the victory. The complete game shutout was the first by a Gamecock pitcher since Aaron Rawl on May 13, 2005 in a 2-0 win at Ole Miss.
South Carolina Career Victories Top 10 List 1) 45 Kip Bouknight 1998-01 (45-12) 2) 36 Tim Lewis 1973-76 (36-6) 3) 35 Aaron Rawl 2002-05 (35-15) 4) 34 Earl Bass 1972-75 (34-3) 34 Greg Ward 1972-75 (34-13) 6) 31 David Marchbanks2001-03 (31-8) 31 Matt Threehouse 1989-93 (31-14) 31 Dennis Lubert 1979-82 (31-9) 9) 30 Mike Cook 1983-85 (30-8) 10) 29 Blake Cooper 2006-09 (28-12)
MERRIFIELD NAMED 2009-10 EARNEST BROOKS CO-MALE STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AT SOUTH CAROLINA
Merrifield went 4-for-12 in the weekend series vs. Georgia with a homer, a double and four runs scored. He now has 223 career hits, 15th all-time on the hits list at Carolina. Merrifield has hit safely in 37 of 40 games this year. He is tied for third in the SEC in runs scored (47). He is the only Gamecock player to have started all 40 games this year. He is batting .333 (55-for-165) with eight HR and 25 RBI. His eight home runs tie him for the team lead.
Merrifield has saved his best for SEC play as he owns a .371 average (26-for-30) in conference games with 20 runs scored as well as five home runs. That average is ninth best in the SEC in SEC games. He also has a .629 slugging percentage and a .463 on-base percentage; both those marks are tied for 10th best in the conference. Five of his eight homers this year have also come in SEC play.
Earlier this year Merrifield set the school record for consecutive games with a hit. He hit safely in 26 straight games, 14 at the end of 2009 and the first 12 games of 2010. He has made 158 consecutive starts for the Gamecocks dating back to March 7, 2008.
South Carolina Career Top 10 Lists Runs Scored 1) 223 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98 2) 215 Mike Curry 1996-97-98 3) 212 Drew Meyer 2000-01-02 4) 209 Mac White 1991-92-93-94 5) 188 Justin Smoak 2006-07-08 6) 182 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-93 7) 181 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-06 8) 176 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-04 9) 174 Garrett Carter 1985-86-87-88 10) 172 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10
CARTER A RELIEF
MORALES IN THE CLUTCH
SUPERLATIVES South Carolina is now 27-1 for the season when leading entering the top of the seventh inning. South Carolina is also 22-2 for the year when scoring first in a game. In other superlatives, the Gamecocks are 26-3 when out-hitting its opponent and 29-4 when allowing five runs or less. The Gamecocks are 13-5 in games decided by three runs or less.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
HALFWAY THROUGH South Carolina has reached the halfway point in SEC play with an 11-4 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 Finish 2010 11-4 N/A N/A N/A 2009 7-8 10-5 17-13 2nd 2008 9-6 6-9 15-15 5th 2007 9-6 8-7 17-13 2nd 2006 11-4 4-11 15-15 4th 2005 9-6 7-8 16-14 2nd 2004 7-8 10-5 17-13 2nd 2003 7-8 12-4 19-11 1st 2002 9-5 12-3 21-8 1st 2001 8-7 9-6 17-13 3rd 2000 12-3 13-2 25-5 1st 1999 9-6 6-9 15-15 1st 1998 10-4 9-6 19-10 2nd 1997 7-8 6-9 13-17 4th
Against Ole Miss, Walker had a grand slam that highlighted a seven-run second inning in the 9-5 win over the Rebels. He finished 2-for-4 in the victory at the plate. All nine position players recorded at least one hit in the game with the Gamecocks finishing with 16 in the game, the second highest total by the Gamecocks in a game at the plate this year.
BRADY BUNCHES THEM TOGETHER
WINGO SHOWS OFF THE POWER Scott Wingo homered twice and drove in three runs in the10-4 victory over The Citadel on Wednesday evening at Joe Riley Park. He is tied for the team lead with eight homers on the year. Wingo is batting .294 (32-for-109) for the season with eight HR and 24 RBIs. He has a .466 on-base percentage and a .587 slugging percentage.
Earlier in the year, Wingo set the school record for hit by pitches in a career. Now in his third season with the Garnet & Black, Wingo has been hit by pitch 39 times in his career.
GAMECOCKS AMONG NATION'S LEADERS IN ATTENDANCE
When Carolina defeated Ole Miss 9-5, there was an attendance of 7,952, the second highest single-game attendance at Carolina Stadium this year. The home game vs. Clemson set a new attendance record at Carolina Stadium with 8,214 fans in Columbia. This was the first season in a new format for the South Carolina-Clemson series. Each team hosted a game with a third contest held this season at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. The total attendance for the three games was 21,665 for an average of 7,221 fans.
MATA THE STOPPER
MAKING AN APPEARANCE
Roth has also been a left-handed bat for the Gamecocks with eight plate appearances including a home run this year.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
Brown did not walk a batter and allowed just two singles. He also did not allow a batter to get past second base in the entire outing. It was the third longest outing in Brown's career at Carolina. Brown, Roth and Price finished with a two-hit shutout, the first time since 2005 that Vanderbilt had been shutout at home in an SEC game. The loss was only Vanderbilt's third of the season at home.
Brown is 2-0 on the year and owns a 4.22 ERA in 32.0 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .243 against him.
BANGS GIVES THE GAMECOCKS OPTIONS
EBERT GETS IT GOING
TANNER WINS 1,000TH CAREER GAME
TAYLOR CLOSES IT DOWN