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May 5, 2012

Diamond Extra: Get 'em on, get 'em over



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - It was clockwork.

Arkansas would lead off, the next man would bunt him over. It's become a science in the series, and there is still one game left to play in it.

The Razorbacks have put 10 leadoff men on in the first two games of their series with South Carolina, and recorded six sacrifice bunts. Seven times, those leadoff men reaching have led to run-scoring innings.

By contrast, USC has put its leadoff men on eight times, but only recorded three sacrifice bunts.

BACK IN BUSINESS: Coach Ray Tanner said after Saturday's game that sophomore Forrest Koumas was probable to start Sunday's rubber game. Koumas has not pitched in an SEC game since March 31 and last threw against Davidson on Wednesday, but only pitched an inning.

He missed a month with soreness in his throwing elbow but has returned, and should get a chance to resume his starting experience on Sunday. Koumas was put in a lot of tough situations last season and responded well every time, but his season this year has not been super.

Shuttling from closer to starter to long reliever, Koumas hasn't settled into a groove, which obviously wasn't helped by the injury. Koumas is 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA, and has 19 strikeouts but 11 walks in just 14 2-3 innings.

Other candidates that could emerge (but aren't likely to) are Nolan Belcher and Adam Westmoreland. Westmoreland hasn't pitched since April 17 and Belcher is more of a reliever. Joel Seddon could pitch some in relief but started against Davidson.

As for relievers, Evan Beal is most likely out after pitching in the first two games of the series. Tyler Webb threw 35 pitches on Saturday.

Tanner said that closer Matt Price wasn't likely to start, but most likely would pitch "after the fifth inning."

BROKEN: Second baseman Chase Vergason got into a fly ball, watched it carry back, back … and over the right-field fence as USC's bullpen crew excitedly signaled home run.

"Against that wind, I'm not sure. I got a pitch I could handle, put a good swing on, let it fly," Vergason said. "It felt good."

It was Vergason's first home run as a Division I college player, and somewhat soothed the sting of launching a long fly against Alabama last week that was caught at the bullpen gate. Would have been better with a win.

With Vergason going yard, Tanner English is the only everyday starter who has yet to hit a home run.

CLEANING UP: Christian Walker started at cleanup hitter for the first time this season. His previous 44 starts were all in the third spot in the order.

Walker was 3-for-4 with two RBIs while his replacement at No. 3, Grayson Greiner, was 0-for-5.

SEC STANDINGS
Team SEC Overall
SEC East
South Carolina 15-8 35-12
Kentucky 15-9 37-11
Florida 14-10 35-13
Georgia 11-12 27-20
Vanderbilt 10-13 22-24
Tennessee 8-15 23-23
SEC West
LSU 15-8 37-11
Arkansas 12-11 34-14
Mississippi State 12-11 29-17
Ole Miss 11-12 31-17
Auburn 10-13 25-21
Alabama 6-17 17-30
Saturday's games
Mississippi State 3, Alabama 2
Arkansas 7, South Carolina 6
Georgia 6, Auburn 5 (11)
Kentucky 2, Florida 1
Ole Miss 7, LSU 4
Vanderbilt 7, Tennessee 4

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