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February 4, 2012

Scrimmage observations, Vol. 5



South Carolina continued preseason practice on Saturday as the back-to-back national champions returned to the field. GamecockCentral.com's David Cloninger was there to offer some scrimmage impressions.

USC will scrimmage again at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Like all scrimmages, it is free and open to the public.

The Gamecocks will scrimmage next weekend as well, leading to the Feb. 17 season-opener. Times will be announced later.

Visitor -- 2B Ahmad Christian, SS TJ Costen, 1B Kyle Martin, 3B Erik Payne, DH Brison Celek, C Dante Rosenberg, LF Sean Sullivan, RF Jake Williams, CF Seth Constable, P Colby Holmes

Home -- LF Evan Marzilli, RF Adam Matthews, 1B Christian Walker, 3B LB Dantzler, C Grayson Greiner, DH Joey Pankake, 2B Chase Vergason, CF Tanner English, SS Connor Bright, P Matt Price

The Visitors won 13-4, keyed by home runs from Christian, Martin, Price and Costen.

Christian announced his presence right away, turning on a Price fastball and swatting it into the left-field seats. The shot snuck just inside the foul pole for a solo dinger and started a rough first inning for Price, although he gave up just the one run. Christian tore it up the first day he came in for preseason practice, then began to regress, and now is back in the improving stage. Despite that, he is still very unlikely to make the team. He simply missed too much in fall practice and his best position, second base, is already quite filled.

Dantzler has been walloping balls all over Carolina Stadium, but is also very good defensively. On a Sullivan hit that died in the infield, Dantzler charged, looked toward second where Rosenberg was running, then had enough on the ball to get Sullivan at first without setting his feet. He also slipped a throw in before Christian could slide into second on a Costen bouncer. No way he loses the spot. Weird batting stance - as the pitcher goes into his windup, Dantzler lowers the bat until the barrel is pointing at the umpire - but it gets results. He blooped a single over second his first time up, and lifted a homer over the right-field fence off Belcher.

Marzilli threw out Celek at second base after Celek smacked a shot inside the third-base line. The ball ricocheted off the corner of the stands and Marzilli played it perfectly, rifling a throw into Vergason at second just in time. Very under-rated as a defender. He struck out twice, but also smacked a triple into the right-center gap. Still got his wheels.

Can't wait to see Martin as a full-time hitter. The man is the classic example of see-ball, hit-ball. Being a first baseman, he probably won't get much time in the field, but man, can that guy slam the horsehide. He took Price well over the right-field wall and deposited a pitch from Koumas into the left-field bleachers. Just because USC has so many guys who can DH, I don't know if Martin will be a full-time DH, but he's certainly got the ability.

Price was hit pretty hard, even his outs coming on line shots, but he mostly limited the damage except for the home runs. His fastball didn't have its usual movement. Nothing to worry about.

Holmes looked great until the fourth, when a couple of bloopers and a bad throw to start a double play only yielded one out. He balked in his only run, but otherwise looked in control.

Westmoreland again struggled with his command, giving up a first-pitch single to Williams and being unable to find the strike zone afterward. He walked two of his next three batters, bringing up Martin, and started him 3-0. He got to 3-2, then walked in a run. Then Celek hit a two-run double and Rosenberg hit a two-run single. Westy is a veteran with a lot of experience, but he's going to have to be much more consistent if he hopes to win a mid-week spot, or even a solid bullpen spot.

Like Price, Koumas had a rough day. He was tagged for two homers in the seventh and also walked two. They are scrimmages, but best believe the option to switch the roles is always there, and can only look more possible after a day like Saturday.

Seddon continues to impress. He doesn't press or over-think, he just goes out and throws. His only mistake was when he beaned Walker in the back of the head (Walker left the game, but was upright and finished the session on the bench). He also made a strong play to come off the mound at the third-base line, grab and throw Dantzler out on a dribbler.

Costen was on base all day. He walked twice, was plunked, hit a homer and reached on a fielder's choice.

PITCHING
Price - 4IP, 5H (2HR), 3R, BB, 2K
Westmoreland - 2IP, 4H (2B), 5R, 3BB
Koumas - 2IP, 5H (3HR), 5R, HBP, 2BB, K
Holmes - 4IP, 3H, R, BK, 2K, BB
Belcher - 2IP, 4H (2B, 3B, HR), 2R, BB, 2K
Seddon - 2IP, H, R, WP, HBP, 2BB, K

Just because SIGNING DAY is over doesn't mean our coverage of the
big day stops. We have more analysis of USC's 2012 signing class, plus
all of our normal content on GamecockCentral.com. Don't miss a thing
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