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September 22, 2013
South Carolina held its sixth intrasquad scrimmage of the fall Sunday afternoon, and Gamecock Central was there.
The visiting team completed a three-game sweep of the home side on Sunday, claiming a 5-1 win led by 2 RBIs from Tanner English, who went 3-for-4 and reached base five times.
The visitors got a dominating pitching performance from Josh Knab, Kris Nelson and Kyle Martin. For the second day in a row the visiting staff only allowed one run, which came off five hits, all allowed by Nelson.
Overall, head coach Chad Holbrook was pleased with where his team was after two full weekends of games.
"I think we swung the bats better this weekend than last weekend, which is to be expected because our guys are getting a little more comfortable seeing live pitching," Holbrook said. "K-Mart (Kyle Martin) had another good weekend, he's swinging the bat very well. Elliott Caldwell was very impressive and played extremely hard and extremely well all weekend long.
"We did some good things. Josh Reagan, a lefty that threw strikes and changed speeds, did very asll as well as Reed Scott and Kyle Martin. We had some guys do very well. It was a productive weekend on all fronts."
PANKAKE'S ARM SHUT DOWN: Joey Pankake was expected to use this fall to secure a key spot in the pitching rotation as well as learn a new position, but an elbow injury suffered in the first weekend of the fall has causes Holbrook to exercise caution with the junior to the extent that he won't pitch again til spring.
"(Pankake is) physically fine," Holbrook said. "He's going to beg and plead to be able to hit next weekend, but we probably just for safety reasons, we probably won't let him throw all fall. It'll be an at bat-only type deal and getting reps defensively without throwing, just to make sure.
"He has a bright future playing this game, and not only do we need him healthy for the spring, but he needs to be healthy beyond the spring."
On Sunday, Pankake came in in the bottom of the fifth inning and recorded one out.
INJURY UPDATE: The list of players injured grew this weekend. In addition to Pankake, starting second baseman Max Schrock (back) continues to be out, though he should return soon.
"Max is fine," Holbrook said. "We dont' want a reoccurrence of his injury. His is one you have to be extremely careful with because it could recur. We want to make sure he's one-hundred percent before we let him swing the bat because he swings the bat hard."
Marcus Mooney was hit in the foot by a pitch last weekend and developed a hematoma that kept him out of this weekend's action. He is expected back to practice this coming week and should play next weekend.
Additionally, Taylor Widener missed Sunday's scrimmage with a tight back, Brock Maxwell did not play Sunday with a slightly pulled hamstring.
CONE ON A ROLL: Freshman Gene Cone just continues to put the ball in play and get on base. On Sunday, Cone was the lone bright spot offensively for the home side as the only player to have multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
"Gene's had six good scrimmages for us," Holbrook said. "He's playing like he wants to play.
"Shoot, if I had to make a lineup out tomorrow, he'd have a good chance to be in it based on his performance. It's been really really good to see him play the way that he's played. He can handle himself, he can play 'D', he's shown he can handle the bat."
ELLIOTT IMPRESSING: Another player who looks to figure into Holbrook's lineup is Spartanburg Methodist transfer Elliott Caldwell. He was 2-for-4 on Sunday with an RBI single. For the weekend, Caldwell went 5-for-11 with 2 RBIs, a triple and two runs scored while also playing excellent defense at third base.
"He did pay good at third," Holbrook said. "We have to find him a place.
"I love the way he plays. He has energy, he cares, he tries to hit the ball to right field. I love the type of player he is. Where we'll play him at, I don't know. He looked like he can handle himself very well at third. It's a long time between now and February. I think third base, some at first here and there, maybe, and left field.
"We have to find him a spot. He's one of those utility-type guys that based on how physical and strong he is and how he runs, he'll probably find himself in there from time to time, probably more often than not."
ENGLISH SHINES: On Sunday, center fielder Tanner English had more hits - three - than he has in the five previous scrimmages combined (one). Leading off for the visiting team, English slapped three hard singles, collected two RBIs, stole two bases, scored two runs, walked and was hit by a pitch, reaching base five times in his team's 5-1 win.
For Holbrook, it was nice to see English having fun again, though he thinks his star center fielder should be having more if it.
"I keep trying to tell Tanner that he cn be the best player on the field, or one of the best players, and not have a hit," Holbrook said. "He's just struggled to realize that.
"He can get to walks or get hit by a pitch and steal three bases and score two runs and still be oh-for-two. We're trying to help him process the game. He tries so hard, it means so much to him to do well, and it was nice to see him perform today. He had fun playing the game today. But I want him to have fun when he's oh-for-two. That's what we're trying to get to with him.
UP NEXT: The team will scrimmage next Friday through Sunday.
Home: Gene Cone (2-for-4, RBI), Connor Bright (1-for-3), Anthony Paulsen (1-for-3, run scored), Matt Williams (1-for-3).
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