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South Carolina Baseball Prepares To Face Evansville On Friday At NCAA Regional

May 31, 2006

Columbia, S.C. - The South Carolina baseball team has earned a spot in the 64-team field of the 2006 NCAA Baseball Tournament making its seventh straight appearance in and the eighth under head coach Ray Tanner. The Gamecocks (37-22) are the No. 2 seed in the Charlottesville regional and will face Evansville (40-20) on Friday, June 2 with first pitch set for 7 pm. The other two opponents in the regional bracket are Virginia (46-13) and Lehigh (28-26). Live audio broadcast is available on the Gamecock Radio Network and with Mike Morgan and Tom Price calling the action.

The Gamecocks are one of eight teams from the SEC to play in the 2006 NCAA Championships and one of four schools from the state of South Carolina to make the field. Carolina's streak of seven consecutive NCAA bids is the longest current streak among the 12 SEC schools (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006).

This will be the first time in school history the Gamecocks and Purple Aces meet in baseball action. Carolina leads the series history against Virginia 33-28 and has never faced Lehigh. The last time Carolina and the Cavaliers met was on March 15, 1987 when USC defeated Virginia 7-3 in Columbia. The Carolina baseball team has not traveled to Charlottesville, Va. since April 17, 1970 when Virginia defeated USC 2-1, in the last contest played between the two schools on the Virginia campus.

South Carolina: Mike Cisco, RHP, Fr. (6-4, 3.87 ERA, 76.2 IP, 67 K, 18 BB)
Evansville: Adam Rogers, RHP, Sr. (7-4, 3.66 ERA, 110.2 IP, 79 K, 18 BB)


Friday June 2, 2006
Game 1/Session 1 - 3 pm - Virginia vs. Lehigh
Game 2/Session 2 - 7 pm - South Carolina vs. Evansville

Saturday June 3, 2006
Game 3/Session 3 - 1 pm - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 4/Session 4 - 6 pm - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Sunday June 4, 2006
Game 5/Session 5 - 1pm - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
Game 6/Session 6 - 6 pm - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

Monday, June 5, 2006
Game 7/Session 7 - 6 pm - If necessary

The South Carolina baseball team heads into the 2006 NCAA Tournament with an all-time postseason record of 80-46 (.635) and will be making the school's 22nd appearance in the postseason. Carolina has reached the NCAA Super Regionals five of the last six years (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) and earned three trips to the College World Series in the last four seasons (2002, 2003, 2004).

Carolina has eight College World Series apperances (1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1985, 2002, 2003, 2004) in school history with three national runner-up finishes (1975, 1977, 2002).

South Carolina went 1-2 last week at the SEC Tournament with an opening round win vs. SEC co-champion Kentucky 4-2 before falling to Vanderbilt 11-1 in seven innings and eliminated by Georgia in a 16-10 contest.

The 4-2 victory over Kentucky featured a brilliant performance on the mound by freshman RHP Mike Cisco, who went a career-high eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits. The performance earned Cisco a spot on the SEC All-Tournament Team.

South Carolina finished the regular season leading the SEC in hitting in the conference game category. The team's .313 (337-for-1077) clip was the best in the 30 SEC games played by all schools this year.

Michael Campbell finished the conference games as the SEC leader in hitting with a .409 average (47-for-115) with Andrew Crisp also in the top 10 with a .383 average (36-for-94).

Carolina's season average of .309 (644-for-2087) is currently fourth among all 12 school in all games played. The .309 average is the highest a Carolina team has been since the 2002 team ended the year with a .315 mark.

South Carolina first baseman Justin Smoak is making his case for freshman All-American status as he is on a tear as of late raising his season batting average to .300 (66-for-220) with 16 HR and 57 RBI. Both the 16 homers and 57 RBI are USC freshman records. Smoak has hit 13 of his 16 homers as well against SEC opponents including a three-run homer against Georgia at the SEC Tournament on last Friday afternoon. Smoak's 16 homers bested the previous record of 11 set by Drew Meyer in 2000. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman team last week.

Smoak also has a three-double performance this year vs. Furman earlier in May that tied a USC single-game record. The freshman from Goose, Creek, S.C. earned SEC Freshman of the Week following his performance in the series against Mississippi State. Smoak was 6-for-11 (.545) in that series including a 3-for-4 performance in Friday's 11-5 win over the Bulldogs. Smoak recorded his first multi-homer game of his career and tied his career-high in hits in the six-run win over MSU.

Smoak is the third Gamecock this season to earn an SEC weekly honor. Andrew Cruse and Mike Cisco each earned SEC Pitcher of the Week in March and April respectively. He is the only member of the team to start all 59 games this year.

When James Brown's song "The Boss" hits the speakers at Sarge Frye Field, it means only one thing, sophomore RHP Wynn Pelzer is entering the game. The sophomore right-hander also is one of 20 players to be invited to the USA Baseball National Team Trials to be held June 22-July 1 in exhibition games played against teams in the New England Collegiate League. The USA Baseball National Team will be selected from a pool of 36 players, of which an additional 16 have yet to be determined. The official 22-man team roster will be announced on July 2. Head coach for this year's national team is Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt. Pelzer earned second team All-SEC honors as a relief pitcher.

Pelzer hurled his first career complete game in a 5-4 loss to Tennessee on Friday night. He made his first start vs. an SEC team this year on Friday April 28 in the 11-5 win over the Bulldogs. Pelzer earned a win and limited MSU to two runs on five hits in 8.1 innings of work.

On the year, Pelzer is 4-4 with a 3.99 ERA as well as 54 strikeouts in 65.1 innings of work. He has allowed just 29 runs on 51 hits on the year and has four wins and four saves vs. SEC teams.

Freshman RHP Mike Cisco turned in his best outing in over a month on last Wednesday when he limited Kentucky to one run on three hits in eight innings of work as USC earned a 4-2 win over UK at the SEC Baseball Tournament. The outing earned him SEC All-Tournament team honors.

Cisco had another solid outing in April when he earned SEC Pitcher of the Week in a 1-0 win over Ole Miss. Cisco worked eight innings in that game as well, and allowed no runs on three hits while striking out a career-high eight batters to pick up the win.

Cisco is 6-4 with a 3.87 ERA and 67 strikeouts and just 18 walks allowed in 76.2 innings pitched. Opponents are only batting .230 against him. Five of his six wins are against SEC opponents. He is the scheduled starter for Carolina against Evansville on Friday night.

Freshman LHP Will Atwood earned his first SEC win with a quality start in a 9-2 win vs. Tennessee. Atwood took a shutout into the sixth inning and limited the Vols to two runs on four hits while tying a career-high with five strikeouts.

He made his first SEC start on April 30 vs. Mississippi State and finished with a no-decision. Atwood worked six innings and allowed just two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts.

On the season, Atwood is 4-2 with a 5.47 ERA in 14 appearances with 49.1 innings of work. In only his second start of his career, Atwood worked a 5.2 innings and allowed just two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and no walk, earning a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to Clemson on April 5.

Freshman Andrew Crisp has been swinging a solid bat and is among SEC leaders in conference games with a .413 batting average (36-for-94). On the season he is hitting .318 (47-for-148) with 25 runs scored, four homers and 15 RBI. He had 19-game hitting streak end vs. Tennessee and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in the outfield.

South Carolina sophomore Phil Disher has found his way into the lineup as the starting designated hitter the past four games for Carolina. In those games, he has delivered with two homers and three doubles to spark the Carolina offense. On the season, Disher is batting .297 (11-for-37) with six RBI on the season in eight starts. Disher has also pitched twice out of the bullpen.

Sophomore RHP Harris Honeycutt is 5-0 and had the best performance on his career at Vanderbilt. Honeycutt worked a career-high eight innings and allowed just three runs in a 6-3 victory over the Commodores. Honeycutt also recently struck out a career-high 11 batters in a 12-3 win over The Citadel.

He made his first SEC start of his career vs. Ole Miss and worked 5.2 innings. Honeycutt is 5-0 with a 3.21 ERA and has 55 strikeouts and 25 walks in 53.1 innings pitched.

Junior OF Robbie Grinestaff earned second team All-SEC honors at designated hitter and is among SEC leaders in several offensive categories including home runs (15), and RBI (51). He is batting .279 (53-for-190) with a slugging percentage of .568. He has twice had two-homer games on the year.

For the third time this season, junior DH Robbie Grinestaff had five RBI in one game as USC defeated Furman 15-12. Grinestaff hit a grand slam homer and added a triple to help the lead the Gamecocks to the win.

Senior INF Neil Giesler saw his hitting streak end at 20 games on April 2 at LSU. Throughout that 20-game hitting streak, Giesler batted .494 (40-for-81) with two HR and 23 RBI.

On the year, Giesler is still one of the top conference leaders batting .356 with three HR and 36 RBI. He has hit safely in a majority of games played and has 25 mutli-hit games.

Freshman shortstop Reese Havens has been productive at the plate as of late and is batting .277 with 12 doubles. He hit a two-run homer in a 11-5 win vs. Mississippi State. Havens tied a season-high with three hits and a homer vs. The Citadel and a had a season-high three RBI in Saturday's loss vs. Kentucky. He also had three hits including a game-winning RBI double in a 12-inning contest against Alabama.

The freshman from Sullivan's Island, S.C. has fielded .966 (77 putouts, 151 assists, eight errors) in his first year at shortstop for Carolina. Havens earned second team All-SEC honors at shortstop.

South Carolina sophomore catcher Trent Kline has swung the bat well in the last few weeks at the plate. Kline is batting .331 (46-for-139) on the year and has started 34 games behind the dish, splitting time with senior catcher Ian Paxton. Kline tied a season-high with three hits including his team-high fourth triple in a 6-3 win over Vanderbilt. Three of Kline's four homers this year have come against SEC opponents. His SEC batting average in conference games was .405.

Sophomore RHP Andrew Cruse has been steady in relief for USC with a 4-3 record on the year, two saves and a 3.56 ERA in 48 innings pitched to go along with 44 strikeouts and just 19 walks.

Cruse earned SEC Pitcher of the Week following his performance vs. Clemson. It marked Cruse's longest outing of his career at USC with 5.2 scoreless innings of relief. He also struck out a career-high seven batters and yielded just one walk and three hits.

Junior OF Jon Willard has had a clutch bat as of late homers popping up all over the place. Three times this season Willard has hit a pinch-hit homer off the bench for Carolina including a two-run homer in the ninth inning to lift USC to a 4-2 win over Kentucky at the SEC Tournament.

His streak began at Kentucky on April 21 as part of a seven-run eighth inning that saw Willard's two-out three-run homer tie the game and send it into extra innings. Willard's heroics also came up in the Sunday rubber game vs. Mississippi State on April 30. With two outs and the Gamecocks down by three runs in the 11th inning, Willard hit the first pitch over the right field wall to tie the game and set up the eventual game-winning homer from Michael Campbell.

South Carolina saw its phenomenal streak of error-less games end at 13 games on Sunday, April 16 when USC freshman second baseman James Darnell misplayed a ground ball in the third inning vs. Ole Miss. The Gamecocks had handled 507 consecutive defensive chances, 370 putouts and 137 assists before committing their 17th error in 37 games. The errorless span covered 123 1/3 innings.

South Carolina is second in the nation with a .980 fielding percentage (1585 putouts, 553 assists, 44 errors). South Carolina has played 31 error-less games.

Despite being hampered with a back injury and a heal injury, senior INF Chris Brown will be back in the lineup for Carolina. He has been productive offensively with a team-best season batting average at .366 (41-for-112) with 33 runs scored.

Brown had a stellar week at the plate in the SEC opening series at Auburn as well as he went .526 (10-for-19) in five games with five RBI and seven runs scored. Brown was 4-for-5, tying his career-high in hits in the 7-3 win vs. the Tigers. He also had three hits in the 12-8 SEC opener vs. Auburn.



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