The 2004 USC-Aiken baseball team features a who's who of former Columbia County high-school stars.
Pacers' head coach Kenny Thomas has done a tremendous job of creating a pipeline from Columbia County to USC-Aiken, as seven players on the team's roster spent their prep careers on this side of the Savannah River.
The county contingent includes: Bradley Key, junior third baseman (Greenbrier); Bob Hatcher, junior catcher arlem); Brandon Barenie, junior catcher/outfielder (Evans); Robert Davis, sophomore catcher (Greenbrier); Steve Dunham, junior pitcher (Evans); Nick Wandless, sophomore pitcher (Greenbrier); and, Chris Wilson, sophomore pitcher (Greenbrier).
Of the magnificent seven, Key, Wandless and Wilson are back from last season.
Key started 52 or 53 games as a sophomore. He led the team with 22 doubles, and finished in the top five on the team in games started, at-bats, runs, hits, RBIs and walks.
In limited action on the mound, Key was 2-1 with a 3.29 earned run average, and struck out 35 batters in 27 innings pitched.
Wandless, despite being a freshman last year, as a workhorse for the Pacers. The right-hander led the pitching staff in appearances (30), ERA (2.90), and he was second in victories (6) and strikeouts (50).
Wilson, a southpaw, appeared in 16 games (with two starts) and had an 0-1 record with a 5.87 ERA.
The four newcomers from Columbia County are all transfers to USC-Aiken.
Hatcher is coming off two very solid seasons at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala.
Barenie comes to South Carolina after a successful two-year stint with Young Harris College in North Georgia.
Davis, another catcher, has transferred in from Manatee Community College, where he saw limited duty as a freshman last season.
Dunham, meanwhile, has honed his skills for the past two seasons in Cochran, pitching for the powerful Middle Georgia Warriors.
This season at USC-Aiken, Key and Wandless are expected to again be major contributors on the diamond. Wilson and the four new Pacers currently are battling through pre-season workouts in an attempt to earn playing time in 2004.
The Pacers open their season at home Saturday against Carson-Newman. First pitch is at 1 p.m.
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