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May 11, 2013

USC-Georgia Diamond Extra: Seniors bid farewell

Prior to Saturday's game, South Carolina honored its nine graduating seniors with a ceremony on the field in front of the dugout featuring the players' parents.

Seniors honored were Nolan Belcher, LB Dantzler, Colby Holmes, Dante Rosenberg, Patrick Sullivan, Sean Sullivan, Chase Vergason, Tyler Webb and Adam Westmoreland.

Belcher, introduced first, got the loudest round of applause, followed closely by Dantzler and Webb. As a class, from 2010-13, the seniors have a record of 193-50 and counting and have played in the national championship series every year of their careers, winning back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011. The players were each presented with framed jerseys - road grays - with their numbers on them.

"It was a big day for our program to honor our seniors the way we did," coach Chad Holbrook said. "There are some special kids in that group of players who have meant a lot to our program, not only this season, but in seasons past. It's a special group."

While Belcher got his standing ovation the night before when he came off the field, Holmes received a nice one at the conclusion of Saturday's 7-1 win over Georgia when he closed the door on the Bulldogs with two scoreless innings of strong relief.

"I loved watching Colby on his senior day come in and get the last six outs," Holbrook said. "It looks like he's throwing the way that Colby Holmes has thrown here for four years. Tickled to death with the way Colby's been throwing."

GET THAT MAN SOME AIR: On his accidental rundown in the fifth inning that allowed Vergason to score from third and pushed the Gamecock lead to 5-0, shortstop Joey Pankake said he knew Vergason had the chance to score if he could avoid being tagged. He did just that by running nearly 200 feet back and forth, as the play officially was scored 7-6-3-4.

It was on the throw from first to second when Vergason scored, as the second baseman got the ball as Pankake was almost to second, then ran him down all the way to first and applied the tag just as Pankake slid into the bag.

"I was hoping they had some oxygen in the dugout for me once I got back," Pankake said. "I was just trying to stay alive long enogh for Chase to cross the plate."

TANNER TIMEOUT: Sophomore center fielder Tanner English, who had started 37 of 40 games this year and only missed time when he was injured earlier in the season, did not get the start Saturday against the Bulldogs after going 1-for-4 against Wofford earlier in the week and 0-for-3 on Friday.

"Tanner is a great kid and a really good player," Holbrook said. "He'd been struggling a little bit, and I felt as a coach he needed a day to recoup and get his mind right. He'll be in there tomorrow. He's a good player. TJ (Costen has) been hitting about 400 versus lefties (.435), and I felt like it might be a good matchup and a good time to get him in there."

CROWD MILESTONE: Saturday's sellout crowd of 8,242 was the fourth of the season and 30th in Carolina Stadium history since it opened in 2009.

CELEK MISSES OPPORTUNITY: A dislocated finger suffered while scooping balls in batting practice kept Brison Celek out of the lineup as the Gamecocks faced a left-handed pitcher.

"Brison was going to be in there today," Holbrook said. "I feel like he needed to play today against (Georgia's Blake) Dietrich. It would have been a good matchup for him.

"When it happened they couldn't get the finger back in until the doc got over here. Doctor (Jeffrey) Guy got it back in and he felt great, but it was too late to plug him back into the lineup. He's healthy and ready to go. If he's not in there tomorrow, it won't be because of his finger."

SEC East
Team SEC Overall

*Vanderbilt 22-2 43-6
South Carolina 15-10 36-14
Florida 13-13 28-24
Kentucky 10-16 28-21
Tennessee 7-17 20-27
Missouri 8-18 16-29
Georgia 5-18 18-30
SEC West
*LSU 21-6 45-7
Arkansas 16-9 33-17
Mississippi State 13-13 36-15
Alabama 12-13 30-22
Ole Miss 14-12 35-16
Texas A&M 11-15 27-24
Auburn 10-16 30-20
*Division champion
Saturday's games
South Carolina 7, Georgia 1

LSU 7, Texas A&M 4
LSU 2, Texas A&M 1
Missouri 7, Alabama 3
Vanderbilt 11, Kentucky 3
Vanderbilt 5, Kentucky 3
Ole Miss 3, Mississippi State 0
Ole Miss 10, Mississippi State 8
Florida 5, Auburn 4
Arkansas 11, Tennessee 1
Sunday's games
Georgia at South Carolina, 1:30 p.m.
Auburn at Florida, 1 p.m.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss, 2 p.m.
Missouri at Alabama, 2 p.m.
Tennessee at Arkansas, 2 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 1 p.m.

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