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May 1, 2012
South Carolina is charging toward the SEC regular-season championship, just as it did last year.
Just as they did last year, the No. 5 Gamecocks don't know who will be available for the stretch run.
A USC spokesman confirmed through coach Ray Tanner on Tuesday that right-hander Colby Holmes (6-0, 3.29 ERA) will miss this weekend's series at No. 18 Arkansas, the second straight series the junior will miss. It removes the Gamecocks' winningest pitcher and Game 3 staple from the weekend rotation, once again putting Tanner in a bind.
Against Alabama last week, USC swept despite some inconsistent pitching. Game 2 starter Jordan Montgomery was roughed up for the first time in his career and Tanner turned to Patrick Sullivan for his first career start in Game 3; Sullivan battled through four innings but got a no-decision.
Montgomery is probable to remain in his spot but Sullivan's Game 3 spot may be up for grabs. Likely candidates include Nolan Belcher, who earned two wins over the Crimson Tide; Evan Beal, who has been a strong long reliever and has started one game; Adam Westmoreland, who has been a midweek starter but will not throw Wednesday's game hosting Davidson (freshman Joel Seddon has already been announced); or potentially closer Matt Price.
The status of Beal and Price to start on Sunday at Arkansas will be determined by how much they are needed in Games 1-2. Forrest Koumas, who was activated but did not pitch against Alabama after missing a few weeks due to arm soreness, could also be considered.
Holmes is out this weekend and may be on the shelf for a while. The right-hander was scratched before the Alabama series after a "freak" accident while stretching during practice. As Tanner described it, Holmes was stretching his arm behind his back, with his hand on his back waist, when he felt something pop.
Tanner described it as a "burst vessel," and because pitchers are usually trying to fiddle with their arms and get them loose anyway, USC staffers put the arm in a sling and immobilized it for the second game of the Alabama series. Holmes was out of the sling for the final game.
The USC spokesman also confirmed that Holmes had an MRI on Monday. While Tanner said that Holmes' injury doesn't appear to be serious, he will be out and resting the arm, hoping that inactivity will solve the problem. Tanner said after the Alabama series that the injury appears to be in Holmes' shoulder.
If the rest and light stretching of the arm doesn't help, Holmes may be facing surgery, which would likely end his season.
The Gamecocks host Davidson at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
WALKER: First baseman Christian Walker slightly strained his left hamstring in the final game against Alabama and while he was walking normally after the game, he may be in doubt for the Davidson game as well. If the Gamecocks' leading hitter can't play, freshman Kyle Martin is likely to start in his place.
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