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October 7, 2012

Scrimmage observations



South Carolina continued fall practice on Sunday as the Gamecocks returned to the diamond. GamecockCentral.com's David Cloninger was there to offer some scrimmage impressions.

The Gamecocks will scrimmage next weekend, then take the Oct. 19 weekend off for Fall Break. They are scheduled to wind it up with the Garnet and Black World Series on the Oct. 26 weekend. All scrimmages are open to the public.

Home -- CF Tanner English, RF Anthony Paulsen, SS Joey Pankake, 1B Erik Payne, C Grayson Greiner, EH Kyle Martin, LF Connor Bright, 3B George Iskenderian, EH Zack Smith, EH Ray Murphy, 2B Chase Vergason, P Colby Holmes, P Nolan Belcher, P Evan Beal, P Vince Fiori, P Hunter Privette, P Cameron Tewksbury

Visitor -- CF T.J. Costen, SS D.C. Arendas, LF Graham Saiko, 2B Max Schrock, EH Brison Celek, RF Sean Sullivan, C Dante Rosenberg, 1B Ryan Ripken, EH Patrick Harrington, EH Seth Constable, 3B LB Dantzler, P Jack Wynkoop, P Curt Britt, P Adam Westmoreland, P Drake Thomason, P Kris Nelson

* The Home team won 4-2.

* Colby Holmes started and looked like his usual self, giving up a couple of hits but nothing that had any lasting damage. Holmes will be a weekend pitcher this year - what number is the question - and he deserves it. He reminds me of that line in "Miracle," when Kurt Russell is asked why he's starting Jim Craig over a goalie that just helped win him an NCAA championship, and he says, "Have you ever seen this kid when his game is on?" Holmes is liable to go on runs where he's the best pitcher in the country, bringing confidence to the mound and knowing that nobody's going to beat him. He had one of those runs last year, before two bad starts in Omaha put a damper on his season. The Gamecocks are confident that his good times will occur more often than the others. "We haven't come close to hitting him," coach Chad Holbrook said.

Nolan Belcher had an outstanding day as well, which was really good to see. He's fought through a lot to get back here and stands to be the contributor this year that he was going to be before having to undergo Tommy John surgery. He only allowed a hit in three innings and struck out two, while playing excellent defense. Ryan Ripken blasted a shot right at Belcher's nose, but Belcher plucked it out of the air, and then Max Schrock cracked a line drive over the mound, until Belcher jumped, flung his glove up and caught that, too. "It looks like Nolan is back to where he was as a freshman," Holbrook said. "That's going to make our team a lot better."

* LB Dantzler hasn't been hitting, but has been playing third base. It's nothing to fear - he has some slight wrist tendonitis but could play if USC had a game. Surprisingly, it's his defense that's been questionable. A guy that was magnificent last year and (I thought) should have been an All-SEC defensive selection has booted quite a few balls this year. On Sunday, he stabbed a line drive but had no other plays, so that's at least encouraging. Probably nothing to worry about, but it is curious why a guy who's been through the battles has struggled so much.

* Cameron Tewksbury made his fall debut after sitting out the first three weekends with elbow soreness. He's another tall lefty, a junior-college transfer from Florida, and seems to be more of an off-speed pitcher. He gave up a solo home run to Schrock but was otherwise fine.

* Chase Vergason has a slight lat pull but played in the field on Sunday.

Holbrook says:
"I don't know who's going to win the first-base job. I don't know who's going to win the right-field job. I know we've got some really good players to fight it out, but we've still got some things to answer."

"I think we've been competitive in (hitting and pitching). I felt the energy was a little bit down today, understandable to what happened last night. It was a big night for our university."

(On T.J. Costen) "I want Tanner (English) to lead off. I told him he's going to have good days, he's going to have bad days. That being said, T.J.'s doing better. That is something to consider. We need an on-base percentage guy in our leadoff spot. Up to this spot, the on-base percentage of Tanner and T.J. has not been their strong suit. Their athleticism is. They need to learn how to take a walk, Tanner had two walks today, encouraging. He had two strikeouts, which is the one-step-forward-two-back factor. One of those two guys needs to be hitting one or two."

PITCHING LINES
Holmes - 2IP, 2H, 2K
Wynkoop - 2IP, 3K
Belcher - 3IP, 1H, 2K
Britt - 2IP, 2BB
Beal - 2IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB
Westmoreland - 3IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 1K
Fiori - 1IP, 1BB, 1HBP, 1K
Privette - 1IP, 1K
Thomason - 1IP, 1K
Nelson - 1IP, 1H, 1K
Tewksbury - 1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1K



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