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FIRST BASE \\ Week of 3.17.08

So, the first journey into conference play didn't turn out so well. Granted, it was against Vanderbilt, the reigning SEC champs. But the Gamecocks fell apart. The pitching staff surrendered 21 runs in the three-game set.

And in a particularly grisly defensive performance Sunday, South Carolina coughed up four errors.

Still, the Gamecocks are 5-3 against ranked teams, and will have plenty of time to make up the 1-2 conference record. No jumping off buildings. Yet, anyway.

To begin regaining that ground, they'll look for a big weekend against Mississsippi State. The Bulldogs are 8-9 on the year and 1-2 in the SEC, the win coming on a pitching gem by Ricky Bowen, who got SEC Pitcher of the Week honors for his trouble.

First, though, the Gamecocks have to take care of two in-state foes, traveling to College of Charleston and then hosting USC Upstate.

James Darnell, who was 7-for-14 against Vanderbilt over the weekend and hit two home runs this week.

Scott Wingo's batting average isn't all that impressive -- just .229. But he has a .548 on-base percentage. He's walked 15 times, been hit by a pitch 11 times and has just 35 official at-bats despite playing in 15 games.

Billy Beane on line 1.

Tuesday: at College of Charleston, 7 p.m. (NOTES)
Wednesday: vs. USC Upstate, 7 p.m.
Weekend Series: vs. Mississippi State, 7 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday