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  1. DURHAM, N.C.—Vanderbilt set a Southeastern Conference record with 26 league wins after winning a series against Alabama, and the Commodores remain No. 1 in the Baseball America College Top 25 rankings for the second straight week. After seven straight weeks at No. 4, Cal State Fullerton moved up to No. 3 thanks to a sweep of UC Irvine that clinched the Big West Conference title. Oregon State and Virginia also moved into the top five for winning series on the road against Oregon and North Carolina, respectively. The Tar Heels, who had been No. 1 all season until last week, did clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular-season title but fell to No. 6 in the rankings after losing their second straight series. Mississippi State made the biggest move of the week, climbing eight spots to No. 16 after winning a series against South Carolina, making the Bulldogs the third SEC team to reach the 40-win mark. Just in front of Mississippi State, Kansas State made a four-spot climb to No. 15 for taking two of three from Oklahoma, earning the Wildcats the Big 12 Conference’s regular-season crown. Three teams make their season debuts in the rankings this week. Seton Hall finished in second place in the Big East Conference and checks in at No. 22. Troy took a series from South Alabama to earn a split of the Sun Belt Conference title and enter the rankings at No. 23, while Mercer won the Atlantic Sun Conference and debuts at No. 25. Mercer is in the Top 25 for the first time ever. The staff of Baseball America determines the Top 25 rankings. Records indicated are through games of May 19 and do not include ties. The staff of Baseball America determines the Top 25 rankings. Records indicated are through games of May 19 and do not include ties. Rk. Team W-L Last Week Prev. 1. Vanderbilt 48-7 3-1 1 2. Louisiana State 48-8 3-1 2 3. Cal State Fullerton 45-8 4-0 4 4. Oregon State 43-9 2-1 6 5. Virginia 45-9 3-1 7 6. North Carolina 47-8 2-2 3 7. Florida State 44-11 3-1 9 8. UCLA 37-15 3-1 8 9. North Carolina State 42-13 3-1 5 10. Louisville 46-10 4-0 12 11. Oregon 43-13 3-2 10 12. Indiana 40-13 2-2 15 13. New Mexico 35-18 3-0 16 14. Arkansas 35-19 1-2 11 15. Kansas State 39-16 2-1 19 16. Mississippi State 40-16 3-1 24 17. South Carolina 39-16 2-2 14 18. Clemson 39-17 2-2 17 19. Arizona State 34-17 2-2 13 20. Oklahoma State 39-14 3-1 20 21. Virginia Tech 35-19 2-0 22 22. Seton Hall 36-17 3-1 NR 23. Troy 39-16 2-2 NR 24. South Alabama 40-16 1-2 18 25. Mercer 42-14 3-0 NR Dropped out: Pittsburgh (21), Mississippi (23), Oklahoma (25).
  2. Clemson jumps USC in latest Collegiate Baseball ranking 04/15/13 For the first time this season Clemson has moved ahead of its in-state rival USC in the latest Collegiate Baseball ranking. The Tigers jumped to 12th in this week’s poll. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks dropped to 22nd in the poll. Coastal Carolina is 26th. Clemson has won 10 straight games, including a weekend sweep over Wake Forest. USC dropped all three games of its series at Florida over the weekend. The Gamecocks still have the edge in the Baseball America poll. They are ranked 18th in that one. Clemson is 20th. North Carolina is the top team in both polls.
  3. Razorbacks boast deep, highly touted pitching staff By NEIL WHITE — nwhite@thestate.com With the arrival of the Arkansas pitching staff at Carolina Stadium this weekend, the arms race got ratcheted up. The No. 21 Razorbacks enter the series against the No. 5 Gamecocks with the SEC’s lowest ERA at 1.81 while holding opposing teams to a .199 batting average through the first 21 games. They are fronted by hard-throwing right-hander Ryne Stanek, who’s projected by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect for the MLB draft in June. Stanek, who will start Saturday’s game, teamed last season with right-handed closer Barrett Astin, who will start Friday’s game, to snap USC’s record 22-game NCAA tournament winning streak in a 2-1 win at the College World Series. Left-hander Randall Fant will start Sunday’s game, while the Razorbacks also feature one of the nation’s top bullpen arms in another hard-throwing righty, Colby Suggs. In Baseball America’s preseason ranking of the SEC’s Top 20 prospects for this summer’s draft, Stanek was No. 1, Suggs was No. 6, Astin was No. 14, and Fant was No. 20. “You can make a case that it’s three Friday night guys,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said. “They’re very, very deep. It’s a staff that reminds you of those Florida staffs that were so good. I don’t know, if you get to the bullpen, that there’ll be a chink in their armor.” Stanek and Suggs, who has struggled with his control this season, have the ability to throw in the mid-90s and flash high-90s numbers. Astin can throw low-90s with great off-speed stuff and strong command. Fant is more of a crafty lefty type who can change speeds and keep hitters off-balance. USC first baseman LB Dantzler, who leads the team with a .351 average, seven homers and 24 RBIs, looks forward to the challenge. “That’s the kind of guys you want to face,” Dantzler said. “If you keep playing baseball long enough, those are the guys you run into. They’re why you play the game. You want to be in this atmosphere at this level playing against the best competition to see how you can do.” Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn, who served as the Capital City Bombers pitching coach in 1993-94 with manager Ron Washington, appreciates having a corps of live arms. But he knows it still comes down to those pitchers being able to locate their fastballs, work out of jams, and keep hitters guessing. “If you’re going to pitch and be successful, you’re going to have to make pitches regardless of what kind of stuff you’ve got,” Jorn said. The Razorbacks also have two more right-handers in Trey Killian and Brandon Moore providing many excellent innings. “It’s not like they’re going to run out of pitching as the weekend goes along,” USC pitching coach Jerry Meyers said. “They’re going to keep running guys out there who have quality experience and quality arms.” Meyers, however, has some good arms on his side as well, including senior-left-handers Nolan Belcher, the Saturday starter, and Tyler Webb, the team’s closer, and sophomore right-hander Evan Beal, the Friday starter. The Gamecocks have posted a 2.18 ERA and .215 opposing-team batting average. Those kind of pitching matchups are what make the SEC unique. “It is like running a gauntlet. Between Arkansas, Vanderbilt, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Kentucky, you’re looking at seven of college baseball’s elite pitching staffs,” Baseball America national collegiate writer Aaron Fitt said. “There’s no question that the SEC is a breeding ground for premium pitching talent. Every year, the league produces some of the top pitching prospects in the draft, and this year is no different.” Jorn agrees with that, citing the fact that his staff faced the Ole Miss staff (2.42 ERA) last weekend and goes up against the Mississippi State staff (2.27 ERA) next weekend. In the meantime, he prepares for another set of games against USC like the two teams played in the 2012 CWS, when Arkansas won the first one 2-1, and the Gamecocks battled back to win 2-0 and 3-2 to eliminate the Razorbacks. “South Carolina has always had guys on the mound who are going to compete, be able to locate, change speeds, throw strikes and throw more than one pitch for a strike,” Jorn said. “They might bend a little bit, but they usually don’t break. They’re going to grind it out.” Meyers understands the next three games could look a whole lot like those tightly contested CWS games, in which every pitch is magnified. “It comes down to a key play or a key at-bat,” Meyers said. “That’s what you anticipate going into almost every SEC weekend. You have to be prepared for that. Everybody has got a guy who can have a really good day and shut an offense down. You have to be on top of your game and expect to be in a close one.” ------------------- Baseball pregame: USC vs. Arkansas WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 3:15 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 p.m. WHERE: Carolina Stadium RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 TELEVISION: Fox Sports Carolinas, Saturday SERIES: Arkansas leads 32-28 LAST MEETING: USC won two-of-three in the regular season and two-of-three in the College World Series in 2012 RECORDS: USC (18-3, 2-1 SEC); Arkansas (14-7, 1-2) RANKINGS: USC is No. 5 and Arkansas is No. 21 in Baseball America PITCHING MATCHUPS: Friday, USC RHP Evan Beal, Soph., 2-0, 0.56 vs. Arkansas RHP Barrett Astin, Jr., 1-1, 1.90; Saturday, USC LHP Nolan Belcher, Sr., 4-1, 1.25 vs. Arkansas RHP Ryne Stanek, Jr., 1-1, 3.32; Sunday, USC TBA vs. Arkansas LHP Randall Fant, Sr., 1-0, 1.12 NOTES: USC SS Joey Pankake has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games. … Arkansas RF Tyler Spoon leads the team with a .346 BA, 3 HR and 26 RBIs. … The offensive numbers are similar for both teams in BA (USC .286, Arkansas .284), runs (USC 139, Arkansas 135), hits (USC 193, Arkansas 200), walks (USC 108, Arkansas 100), strikeouts (USC 123, Arkansas 124) and stolen bases (USC 24, Arkansas 25). Link: http://www.gogamecocks.com/2013/03/21/341352/fastball-fascination-arkansas.html
  4. South Carolina Baseball Notebook From USC Sports Information 02/25/13 Record: 5-1 SEC: 0-0 Home: 5-1 Away: 0-0 This Week: 3-0 2/23/13 – vs. Albany (W, 8-3) 2/24/13 – vs. Albany (W, 14-1) 2/24/13 – vs. Albany (W, 6-4) NOTES: South Carolina continued the 2013 season with a weekend sweep of Albany at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks defeated Albany 8-3 in the opener followed by victories of 14-1 and 6-4 on Sunday in a doubleheader. South Carolina is now 5-1 on the year and will next be in action on Tuesday hosting Furman at 4 p.m. The Gamecocks will meet Clemson this weekend in a three-game series with Friday’s contest at Clemson, Saturday’s game at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. and Sunday’s series finale in Columbia. (more)
  5. Dantzler named SEC player of the week GF Staff 02/25/13 Columbia, S.C. – Senior first baseman LB Dantzler earned SEC Player of the Week honors as announced by the league office on Monday afternoon. In the Albany series, Dantzler went 9-for-13 (.692) at the plate with two doubles, two homers, six runs scored and 10 RBI. He had 17 total bases for the weekend with a .733 on-base percentage as well as a 1.308 slugging percentage. (more)
  6. Gamecocks sweep Albany with 6-4 win, with videos, photo gallery and more From USC Sports Information 02/24/13 Columbia, S.C. – Fresh off a no-hitter in game one of a doubleheader, fifth ranked South Carolina stormed ahead in the nightcap with six runs in the first three innings on the way to a 6-4 victory over Albany to sweep a doubleheader and the series vs. the Great Danes. Carolina is now 5-1 on the year while the loss drops Albany to 0-5 for the season. (more)
  7. No-hitter highlights USC sweep COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ray Lavigne threw a no-hitter against George Mason for the South Carolina baseball team on March 26, 1975, a feat that came exactly one day after teammate Tim Lewis did it against Old Dominion. It took the Gamecocks 38 years to get the next one. Colby Holmes, Forrest Koumas and Josh Knab combined on the gem Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium in a 14-1 victory over Albany in the first game of a doubleheader. The No. 7 Gamecocks (5-1) didn’t get another no-hitter in the nightcap, but they did win 6-4 to sweep the three-game series from the Great Danes (0-5). The trio of right-handers combined for four walks and four strikeouts, as Holmes (1-0) went six innings, Koumas pitched two, and Knab got the final outs in the ninth on three straight ground balls to shortstop DC Arendas. It was only the seventh no-hitter in program history, with the others coming in 1914, 1932, 1949, 1967 and 1975. The run scored by Albany in the no-hitter was unearned. Holmes walked the leadoff hitter in the fourth inning. After a throwing error by third baseman Chase Vergason put runners on second and third, Josh Nethaway delivered a sacrifice fly. But the Gamecocks put up 14 unanswered runs to win going away. They scored nine runs in the fifth inning on eight hits and three Albany errors. Vergason, who had two hits and three RBIs in the game, started the rally with a solo homer, and Max Schrock and Graham Saiko both had two-run singles in the frame. The nine runs in the inning were the most since the Gamecocks scored 10 against Valparaiso in a 2010 victory. LB Dantzler, who hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning of the first game and got three hits in the second game, had a huge weekend. The senior first baseman went 9-for-14 with two doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs. In the second game, senior left-hander Nolan Belcher (1-1) went six solid innings. Although he gave up a pair of runs on eight hits, he walked none and struck out seven. Senior right-hander Patrick Sullivan and senior left-hander Tyler Webb, who picked up his second save on the season, wrapped things up on the mound over the final three innings. USC will play Furman Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. - Box score: USC-Albany, Game 3 - Box score: USC-Albany, Game 2 - Box score: USC-Albany, Game 1 Link: http://www.gogamecocks.com/2013/02/24/329197/no-hitter-big-fifth-inning-propel.html
  8. No-hitter, Gamecocks defeat Albany 14-1 in first game of doubleheader From USC Sports Information 02/24/13 Box Score | Photo Gallery | Video-Highlights Columbia, S.C. – Colby Holmes, Forrest Koumas and Josh Knab combined for the first no-hitter by a Gamecock baseball team since March 26, 1975 as fifth ranked South Carolina exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on the way to a 14-1 win over Albany in game one of a doubleheader at Carolina Stadium. The no-hitter is the seventh in school history and the first combined no-hitter as well. The final game of the doubleheader is scheduled for 3:20 p.m. (more)
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