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March 19, 2013

Tonight's game could determine weekend rotation



NO. 5 SOUTH CAROLINA (17-3) at THE CITADEL (14-7)
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, Charleston
Tickets: Available at the box office
TV: None
Probable starting pitchers: South Carolina -- LHP Jack Wynkoop (3-0, 0.64 ERA). The Citadel - LHP Logan Cribb (1-1, 3.18)
Notes: South Carolina scales back with a four-game week, playing its first road midweek game. … The Gamecocks lead the series 123-47-1 and have won six of seven. … USC has allowed just three stolen bases in seven attempts this season. … TJ Costen hit .429 in five games last week, driving in two and scoring four runs. His season average is up to .234. … Chase Vergason has a .449 on-base percentage. … Lowcountry natives Brison Celek (Charleston) and Connor Bright (Mt. Pleasant) have the chance to play in front of their friends and family twice in a week, as the Gamecocks play at College of Charleston next week. … Closer Tyler Webb moved into a tie for third place in career appearances against Missouri and will tie Michael Roth for second with six more appearances.
Next up: USC hosts No. 21 Arkansas in the first of a three-game series at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Consider tonight an audition of sorts, in the quest for fifth-ranked South Carolina to find some stability in a time where it can't field the same lineup from game to game due to injuries or inconsistency.

Freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop, a once-and-future candidate as a weekend starter, will start at The Citadel tonight as the Gamecocks head back on the road. He will likely throw a pre-determined split, only two or three innings, and USC is also likely to shuttle in several pitchers in order to get everyone some work so it can find some answers.

The Gamecocks need a Sunday starter, after Colby Holmes has been roughed up in each of his past three starts, and they aim to find an arrow toward an answer tonight. While Holmes isn't necessarily out of the rotation - no matter what, he will always have far more experience than any name that may replace him - it's to the point where coach Chad Holbrook has to at least look at his options.

Holmes could throw some in relief tonight, after failing to get out of the second inning three days ago at Missouri. That could get him some work to get his confidence back and maybe put his name further up into the discussion for Sunday against Arkansas.

But Wynkoop gets the ball first, with Joel Seddon and Curt Britt likely to come after him. The Gamecocks have already decided that Evan Beal and Nolan Belcher will remain in their Friday and Saturday spots, but tonight will help determine who the third starter will be.

Tonight could also help restore USC's shattered outfield. Tanner English is feeling much better and could play in some role tonight. Graham Saiko won't play, but he could be good to go for Arkansas after results on his left wrist came back with no breaks or tears. Ahmad Christian, out since opening weekend, won't play but should be returning to the field very soon.



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