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September 15, 2013
South Carolina held its third intrasquad scrimmage of the fall Sunday afternoon, and Gamecock Central was there.
The teams played eight innings, with 10 batters each and the pitchers on a two-inning limit. Sunday, the home team won 8-4 behind multi-hit games from four players, while the visiting team got all of its four runs on one swing - a grand slam in the sixth inning from freshman left fielder/catcher Ray Murphy.
Overall, coach Chad Holbrook was pleased with the weekend.
"We did some nice things," Holbrook said. "The thing that stood out to me was some of our young pitchers threw the ball very well Friday and Saturday.
"We threw the ball well in spots today, the guys we'll count on to get an inning or two here or there. It was a typical first weekend of the fall scrimmage."
One thing not typical of a first weekend of a fall scrimmage was the play of Holbrook's infield defensively, turning multiple double plays and only committing a single error in three games.
"(That) was encouraging to see," Holbrook said. "(The one error) was on a tricky hop. I feel good about the way we played 'D'.
"I think we turned more double plays this weekend than we may have done all of last year in fifty-something games.
"We have a lot to work on and a long way to go, but there certainly were some positive signs in regards to our pitching staff and the way that we threw the ball and picked it up behind them."
INJURY REPORT: Second baseman Max Schrock did not play the entire weekend as he recovers from a stress fracture in his back suffered while playing in the Cape Cod League in June. Holbrook said he's almost fully recovered but there was no rush to get him on the field this weekend.
"We're being extra careful with him," Holbrook said. "He started taking ground balls this week, and he was about 100-percent today in the way he fielded ground balls in BP. He'll be fine. He might swing some this week off a tee, but I doubt he'll play this coming weekend. Maybe halfway through the fall we'll get him in there, for the last nine or ten scrimmages."
Joey Pankake tweaked his right elbow pitching on Saturday and was a scratch from the lineup on Sunday. That injury was a little more alarming for Holbrook.
"He's got a sore elbow, and we'll get him checked out tomorrow by our doctors," Holbrook said. "I'm a little tad concerned about it, to be quite honest with you, but it's something we'll look at and take day-to-day. It isn't quite feeling right, and we're going to try and protect it. (Trainer) Brainard (Cooper) thinks he's fine, but anytime you're dealing with sore elbow, I'm always a worrier, and I worry. But he'll be fine."
K-MART DOES DOUBLES UP: Kyle Martin continues to spank the ball from the plate, scorching a single into left field past Matt Williams in the first inning then smashing an RBI double to the gap in right center field in the fourth. He added a deep sacrifice fly in the fifth and finished the game 3-for-4 from the plate with 2 RBIs.
Martin wasn't done there, however. The lefthander also pitched two innings of scoreless relief to close out the game, working a 1-2-3 seventh and allowing a single hit from Wil Crowe in the eighth to go with two strikeouts. So what's Martin's role on the pitching staff for the season?
"We'll just see," Holbrook said. "He throws strikes and he changes speeds. We might need another lefty in the bullpen, and we're experimenting this fall and will see. I don't know if we'll use him much, but he pitched a lot in high school. He knows what he's doing out there.
"If you're a lefthander, you've got a pulse and can throw strikes, we can use you. He can do that."
ENGLIGH STRUGGLING: Tanner English, who is no longer switch-hitting, got just a single hit over the weekend, going 0-for-Friday and Saturday before getting a single in the fifth inning on a hard-hit ball past the first and second basemen into right field. English's weekend funk is nothing Holbrook is concerned about.
"No, you don't worry about (English)," Holbrook said. "Evan Marzilli was 3-for-54 one fall here and struck out like 30 times and then was on the College World Series All-Tournament team. Let's keep the fall in perspective.
"Tanner's working on some things, too, and he's fine. I'm not in the least worried about him."
FROSH OUTFIELDERS IMPRESS: With big holes to fill at the corner outfield positions with the departure from the team of Graham Saiko and TJ Costen, Holbrook was hoping some of his heralded freshman could stake a claim. Sunday afternoon, both Gene Cone and Brock Maxwell did. Both went 3-for-4 from the plate with two runs scored, the difference being Cone adding a double and Maxwell getting an RBI.
Cone also shone defensively, making a sensation diving grab and tumble after off a flare to short right center from Crowe that would have made Jackie Bradley Jr. jealous.
"Gene had a great day today," Holbrook said. "Brock had three hits. Those two guys are pretty talented players. They're different players, but they're unique in their own way, they can swing the bat and they can help us.
"Gene Cone has great savvy. He has a feel for the game. Brock is a very talented kid and likes the spotlight and has a great plate approach. They have to get stronger, they have to get in the weight room and work. I thought they might both be a year away from a strength standpoint. Those are the areas they have to work on, and they will. They're both committed to being pretty good players."
MOONEY SHINES: Marcus Mooney has been terrific so far in the field at shortstop. The Gamecocks have been eager to find a sparking defensive shortstop since the graduation of Peter Mooney in 2011, and his younger brother is making a strong case for the role.
Mooney made his brother proud with a brilliant second-inning play deep in the hole in which he spun completely around and fired a chest-high strike for the out. It easily was as as good as any play made from the shortstop position all last year.
"Marcus made a great play today," Holbrook said. "He played great defense all weekend."
Top hitters: Brison Celek 3-for-4; Ray Murphy 1-for-3, HR, 4 RBIs; Gene Cone 3-for-4, 2 runs scored; Brock Maxwell: 3-for-4, RBI, 2 runs scored; Kyle Martin 2-for-4, 2 RBIs; DC Arendas 2-for-4.
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