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February 5, 2012

Scrimmage observations, Vol. 6



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

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

Visitor -- DH Ahmad Christian, 2B TJ Costen, SS Connor Bright, 1B Brison Celek, C Grayson Greiner, 3B Erik Payne, LF Sean Sullivan, RF Jake Williams, CF Seth Constable, P Jordan Montgomery

Home -- CF Evan Marzilli, RF Adam Matthews, 1B Christian Walker, 3B LB Dantzler, DH Kyle Martin, C Dante Rosenberg, 2B Chase Vergason, SS Joey Pankake, LF Tanner English, P Evan Beal

The Home team won 5-3, keyed by a two-run home run from Dantzler and a two-run triple from Michael Roth.

My, Grayson Greiner. Not only did he single and come around to score a run, but he threw out five would-be base-stealers. And not just other catchers - he threw out Marzilli twice, Matthews once and English once. The pop-up time for a 6-foot-5 guy is incredible, and his arm strength is unbelievable. I can see what Ray Tanner is talking about when he drops the name Landon Powell when talking about Greiner. None of the runners were close to being safe.

It will be interesting to see how he and Rosenberg switch (Rosenberg also caught one stealer today). I asked Ray Tanner if he could assign specific catchers to specific pitchers (like a Charlie O'Brien-Greg Maddux deal, to date me), but Tanner has never done that. He's like to have one guy there for the great majority of the season. He replied that he wouldn't necessarily platoon the two, but both will play. Rosenberg is much more of a contact hitter than the powerful Greiner, so perhaps that may dictate some playing time.

LB Dantzler. Socked another home run on Sunday, this one a no-doubt shot to right off Ethan Carter that I think cleared the black fence. He nearly had another one in his first at-bat, but got around too early and pulled it foul. "He needs to put it on ice for a while," Tanner groused, but as a joke.

Beal looked good. Really, really good. He can throw 90, he has a curve that drops off the table and most importantly, he works quickly and confidently. Beal believes in his stuff, not to the point of being cocky about it, but knowing that he can get the pitch over any time. He did give up a run, after letting Williams reach on a leadoff single, but he struck out Constable immediately after. The run scored when Christian belted a single to center, which Marzilli fielded. I thought Williams was dead at the plate but Marzilli threw way up the line.

Tanner likes Beal, Seddon and Montgomery as guys for that midweek starter/relief role, but guys like Nolan Belcher and Adam Westmoreland can't be discounted. As Tanner said, John Taylor had 50 appearances last year. He'd like to get that same number from a combination of guys and not have to lean on one the entire season.

Roth pinch-hit late as Pankake was warming up to pitch, and slammed a shot into the gap that Constable over-ran. The ball went to the track, two runs scored and Roth had a stand-up double, but he wasn't going to stop. No, USC's ace pitcher went barreling toward third and slid in safely. "I wasn't very happy with that," Tanner said. "I saw the hamstring coming." Roth was fine, though, just another example of how the man is Teflon.

Shon Carson checked out the scrimmage. He's been doing his rehabilitation work and hasn't been able to come around lately (not that he would have been able to play anyway, as his knee is still recovering). Carson is still on scholarship for football and that shouldn't change next year, although if you asked me today, I'd say that Carson was giving serious thought to being part of the baseball team next season. Tanner has said that he's never going to turn down guys who can help the team, and Carson is a whiz-bang ballplayer. It would be difficult to work out, Carson being able to practice with the football team and the baseball team in the fall, but I think it could work if both sides worked together. From a financial standpoint, since hardly any baseball player gets a full scholarship, it would benefit Carson to stay on football scholarship. If his knee is 100 percent by the summer (it should be), Carson will be considered a top member of the tailback rotation, but carries will be tough to come by. Perhaps that could play a factor in his decision. I feel certain that he will be part of the football team for the duration, but coming out healthy next year, he'll be part of the baseball team as well.

Christian is another guy out there who is getting his swing back, with two singles and a hard-hit flyout on Sunday. "He's having fun," is how it was put, but like Carson, he'll be part of the football team in the fall. But Tanner knows what he and Carson can do, and USC will have a lot of open spots next year.

PITCHING
Montgomery - 3IP, H, K
Carter - 3IP, 6H (HR), 2R, BB, 2K
Little - 2IP, 3H (3B), 3R, 2BB, K
Beal - 3IP, 3H, R, WP, 3K
Fiori - 3IP, 2H, 3K
Knab - 2IP, H (2B), R, 3K
Pankake - 1-2 IP, 2H (3B), R

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