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May 24, 2012

Diamond Extra: Tanner plays head games against Vandy



2012 SEC TOURNAMENT
Tuesday-Sunday
Regions Park
Hoover, Ala.
All games on ESPN3.com
TBD -- each game will begin 30 minutes following the conclusion of the previous game
All games Tuesday-Friday are double-elimination. Single-elimination begins on Saturday
TUESDAY
Game 1: No. 4 Kentucky 2, No. 9 Ole Miss 0
Game 2: No. 7 Mississippi State 9, No. 6 Arkansas 1
Game 3: No. 3 Florida 6, No. 10 Auburn 1
Game 4: No. 5 Vanderbilt 4, No. 8 Georgia 1
WEDNESDAY
Game 5: No. 9 Ole Miss 2, No. 6 Arkansas 0, Arkansas eliminated
Game 6: No. 7 Mississippi State 3, No. 1 LSU 2
Game 7: No. 10 Auburn 3, No. 8 Georgia 2, Georgia eliminated
Game 8: No. 5 Vanderbilt 3, No. 2 South Carolina 2
THURSDAY
Game 9: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 9 Ole Miss, 10:30 a.m. (SportSouth)
Game 10: No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Mississippi State, TBD (SportSouth)
Game 11: No. 2 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Auburn, 5:30 p.m. (CSS)
Game 12: No. 3 Florida vs. No. 5 Vanderbilt, TBD (CSS)
FRIDAY
Game 13: Game 10 loser vs. Game 9 winner, 4 p.m. (CSS)
Game 14: Game 12 loser vs. Game 11 winner, TBD (CSS)
SATURDAY
Game 15: Game 10 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 1 p.m. (CSS)
Game 16: Game 12 winner vs. Game 14 winner, TBD (CSS)
SUNDAY
Game 17: Game 15 winner vs. Game 16 winner, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

VIDEO: Tyler Webb


VIDEO: Grayson Greiner



HOOVER, Ala. - The lineup came out, causing head-scratching and frantic checks to see if it was indeed accurate. It was.

Colby Holmes, junior right-hander who has never had a collegiate at-bat, was batting seventh at designated hitter for No. 7 South Carolina's first SEC tournament game on Wednesday.

As it turned out, the only bat Holmes picked up and swung was for his cuts in the on-deck circle. Once his actual turn at the plate came up, he went back to the dugout in favor of Kyle Martin.

It was a bit of a psychological effect for the Commodores. By placing a DH who obviously wasn't going to actually hit, coach Ray Tanner controlled a bit of the strategy that Vanderbilt could throw at him. He made it a situational spot - if the Gamecocks needed a bunt, they could put in their best bunter off the bench. If they had a chance to score with a long fly ball, they could go with a slugger. They could go right or left.

Vanderbilt did the same, putting pitcher Drew VerHagen in the starting DH spot before lifting him for Chris Harvey. The Commodores also did it in their opening game on Tuesday.

"I saw coach (Tim) Corbin (Tuesday) night, and I hadn't seen that before," Tanner said. "I had seen that some on the West Coast and said, 'You know what, that's a good play.' I took that out of coach Corbin's book."

The move paid off.

Martin beat out an infield nubber for a single in the second inning and moved to second when Chase Vergason was hit by a pitch. He scored when Tanner English laced a two-run single to left.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Jordan Montgomery threw a masterful game against Vanderbilt, his fastball darting in and out of the zone and his excellent changeup biting for strikes. He got a no-decision when he left with a 2-1 lead after five innings, but only gave up two hits and a run while striking out five.

"I had all four of my pitches going good," Montgomery said. "I had all of them off-balance, it kind of felt like."

Montgomery avoided the trap that had led to three straight shoddy starts, which was his fastball not being effective enough so that he had to use breaking pitches for outs. That's only going to work for so long, and batters were teeing off on him.

But on Wednesday, Montgomery showed that he can be a contributor going forward, if USC needs a fourth starter. Tanner will go with his experienced arms out front, but in the postseason, where a fourth and fifth starter are so invaluable, Montgomery could be the first one called if USC is a win-or-go-home situation.

The only reason Tanner pulled him after five (on 83 pitches) was that he wasn't sure that Montgomery could go for another inning. The freshman had gotten outs, but had been using a lot of pitches to do so, in the early innings but had gotten some quick frames late.

"I was just sitting there thinking we can get (Tyler) Webb for two, (Matt) Price for two, but it didn't work that way," Tanner said. "He did a nice job for us."

DEPTH PERCEPTION: Webb threw four innings and took the loss on Wednesday, meaning he's out for Thursday. If USC needs middle relief, it is likely to look at Evan Beal or Nolan Belcher.

Beal has been the most dependable long reliever over the past month. Belcher would most likely be more of a situational reliever.

THE STREAK: Vanderbilt extended its mastery of USC in Hoover to five straight games. The Commodores have beaten the Gamecocks in 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008 and 2006.

The last time that USC beat Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament was in 2004. The Gamecocks beat the Commodores 3-2 in the championship game that year.

USC has also played today's opponent, Auburn, in the last two tournaments. The Gamecocks are 1-1 in those games.

TRAVELIN' MEN: The Gamecocks had their standard 27 members on the traveling roster for Hoover. The rosters are allowed to be re-set between each round of the postseason, but can't be changed once they're set.

In Hoover were: Tanner English, Connor Bright, Joel Seddon, TJ Costen, Joey Pankake, Sean Sullivan, Christian Walker, Evan Beal, Nolan Belcher, Chase Vergason, Dante Rosenberg, LB Dantzler, Grayson Greiner, Matt Price, Adam Westmoreland, Adam Matthews, Forrest Koumas, Michael Roth, Erik Payne, Evan Marzilli, Kyle Martin, Jordan Montgomery, Logan Munson, Hunter Privette, Tyler Webb, Patrick Sullivan and Colby Holmes.

SEC LEGENDS: The SEC unveiled its first four-man class of baseball legends, which all appeared in person at some time during the tournament. The four were Alabama's Jeff Laubenthal, Arkansas' Kevin McReynolds, Florida's Brad Wilkerson and Georgia's Reggie Andrews.

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