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January 26, 2013

Greiner, pitchers shine in first scrimmage

South Carolina scrimmaged for the first time during preseason camp on Saturday in front of a crowd of several hundred supporters at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks are looking to reach the College World Series for the fourth straight season in Chad Holbrook's first year as coach.

Home -- Tanner English (CF), Ahmad Christian (2B), George Iskenderian (3B), Kyle Martin (1B), TJ Costen (RF), Brison Celek (DH), Connor Bright (LF), DC Arendas (SS), Dante Rosenberg (C), Anthony Paulsen (DH)
Visitor -- Graham Saiko (LF), Joey Pankake (SS), Max Schrock (2B), LB Dantzler (1B), Grayson Greiner (C), Erik Payne (DH), Shon Carson (CF), Sean Sullivan (RF), Chase Vergason (3B), Ryan Ripken (DH)

Five hurlers, led by starter Jordan Montgomery, blanked the home team on seven hits over 11 innings in a 3-0 victory for a visitor team consisting of six starters in the lineup - catcher, all four infield spots and left field.

Sophomore left-hander Montgomery set the tone by allowing just one base-runner in three innings of work, a two-out triple by Brison Celek in the bottom of the second on a ball that was misplayed by Shon Carson in center. He was followed by Forrest Koumas, Joel Seddon and Patrick Sullivan, who each worked two innings. Tyler Webb prepared for his new role as USC's closer by pitching the final two innings.

Ahmad Christian, batting second behind Tanner English, collected three of the seven hits for the home team on a pair of singles and a double in his final three plate appearances. Batting leadoff, the switch-hitting English was 1-for-4 with a single in the 10th inning.

Led by Colby Holmes, the pitching staff for the home team posted zeroes until the top of the ninth, when the visiting team broke through with all three runs against heralded freshman Curt Britt, who struggled in his first scrimmage appearance.

Junior college transfer Graham Saiko (pronounced, "psycho") started the outburst in the ninth by drawing a walk from Britt. Saiko stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a one-out single through the middle by impressive freshman Max Schrock, the projected starter at second base.

LB Dantzler and Grayson Greiner (4-of-5, four singles) followed with consecutive singles to right, loading the bases with one out. Britt forced home the second run of the inning when he issued his second walk of the inning to Erik Payne.

Carson, a reserve running back on the football team who missed most of the 2012 season with a wrist injury, stroked a sacrifice fly to right to score Dantzler with the final run.

In addition to amassing four hits at the plate, Greiner also threw out Christian at second base on an attempted steal in the seventh inning. Saiko drew two walks in five trips to the plate, while Payne, battling Chase Vergason for the starting job at third base, had a double, walk and RBI.

Promising freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop, involved in the mix for the Sunday starter role, took over for Holmes in the top of the fourth and worked a perfect fourth until allowing back-to-back two-hits in the fifth. However, he fanned Carson to end the threat.

Belcher, another candidate for Sunday's starting pitcher role, set down the visiting team in order in the sixth. He allowed a one-out single in the seventh to Greiner, who advanced as far as third on a stolen base and groundout before Belcher struck out Carson for the third out.

Junior right-hander Josh Knab, a junior-college transfer from Conway by way of USC-Sumter, fanned four batters in his two innings of work to close out the afternoon for the home team.

Colby Holmes - 3.0 IP, 1H, 2K
Jack Wynkoop - 3.0 IP, 2H, 1K (six outs in top of fifth)
Nolan Belcher - 2.0 IP, 1H, 2K
Curt Britt - 2.0 IP, 3R, 3H, 2K, 2BB
Josh Knab - 2.0 IP, 1H, 1BB, 4K
Jordan Montgomery - 3.0 IP, 1H, 2K
Forrest Koumas - 2.0 IP, 1H, 2K
Joel Seddon - 2.0 IP, 2H, 3K
Patrick Sullivan - 2.0 IP, 1K
Tyler Webb - 2.0 IP, 3H, 1K.

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