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April 23, 2014

Diamond Extra: Davidson

Through three years Patrick Harrington had four at-bats, no hits.

Through 40 games and two starts this season Harrington had 11 at-bats, still no hits.

Through two plate appearances Tuesday night Harrington was 0-2, making him 0-13 for 2014 and 0-17 since joining South Carolina in 2011.

With the score 2-1 in the sixth inning and having already left a runner at third earlier in the game, Harrington came to the plate with no outs and runners at second and third, eager to make something, anything, of his third start of the season and fourth of his career.

Harrington wasted no time, swinging at the first pitch from Davidson reliever Matt Saeta and poking a slow dribbler to the right side. With the pitcher running to cover the bag as the first baseman gloved it, Harrington dove head-first into the base, just beating the toss for his first career hit and second RBI in No. 11 South Carolina's 8-0 in over Davidson.

Heading down the line and watching the play unfold, Harrington knew what had to be done.

"I was definitely going to dive," said Harrington, who finished the game 1-for-5. "I knew if it was going to be my first hit, I'm getting dirty."

"Coach (Chad) Holbrook was joking with me before the game, saying, 'Pat, you going to get one today?'," Harrington said. "I said, 'I'm going to get one today.' I don't care how it is; it wasn't pretty, but I got it."

"It's a blessing. Through all my years, (this is) the most opportunities I've gotten. I've been patient, I've always stayed ready and kept a positive outlook on everything knowing that hey, your time will come."

Whether Harrington can continue to find starts once regular left fielder Elliott Caldwell returns to the lineup as starter Elliott Caldwell's sore back heals remains to be seen, something Harrington - ever the team player - is fine with.

"That's coach's call, and honestly, I respect his decision," Harrington said. "Ultimately I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, playing my best to benefit this team."

For Holbrook, seeing Harrington get his first hit was special for a number of reasons.

"He's been here it seems like forever, bless his heart," Holbrook said. "He's a great kid. He works extremely hard. I think he has as much respect amongst our team within our locker room as anyone in our locker room.

"He does everything the right way. He's a coach's dream. I hope my son, when he goes to college, acts and behaves and works like Pat does. I mean that sincerely. He does everything the right way, and I'm proud he's getting a chance to play. He's making the most of it. I wish his first hit wouldn't have been an infield one, but we'll take it.

"I'm happy for Pat, and I think he's having the time of his life playing."

SCHROCK MAY MISS SEASON: Sophomore second baseman Max Schrock, Holbrook said, may miss the rest of the season as his back heals slowly.

"I hurt for Max," Holbrook said. "Max, obviously, when he's healthy I think he's one of the better hitters on our team and in the conference and the country when he's going good and playing like he's capable of playing.

"I'm not optimistic about Max. I'm not optimistic about him being able to return anytime soon. He may be out for the remainder of the year. He may not be. The injury that he has with his back, it might need more time to heal than our season's got left. It may need a couple months.

"In my mind, in our thought process, we're going to have to go ahead without Max."

Holbrook said Elliott Caldwell has a sore back and is "iffy at best" for Alabama and probably won't play.

Right fielder Connor Bright could have pinch-hit Tuesday, but is resting his sore elbow.

"Connor's elbow is getting better," Holbrook said. "If I had to pinch-hit him tonight, I could have.

"He can't throw. We're hopeful he'll be able to play Friday. It might be a little bit of a stretch, but we're hopeful."

Evan Beal, who broke his nose playing catch, according to Holbrook, could pitch now if needed. Vince Fiori is "definitely" out this weekend with a lat pull and is "a stretch" for Georgia the following week.

STREAKING: First baseman Kyle Martin extended his team-leading hitting streak to 10 games with his single in the second inning. He finished the game 1-for-4.



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