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May 3, 2014

Diamond Extra: Georgia Game 2

ATHENS, Ga. - When you're hitting .329 in the SEC, second-highest on the team, you'd think maybe you'd be hitting somewhere besides the No. 9 hole.

But that's exactly where center fielder Tanner English had been all year, manning the low spot in the order in 36 of 45 games, including 17 of the last 20.

On Saturday, USC coach Chad Holbrook decided to address that, moving English up to the No. 6 position, and the result was the game-deciding RBI single from English in the seventh inning of No. 9 South Carolina's 5-2 win over Georgia on Saturday.

"I was hoping that was going to work out," Holbrook said of moving English up in the order. "You look at the stats, especially in SEC play, and he's got one of our highest batting averages.

"We're struggling to score runs, so I'm going to put somebody in an RBI slot that's swinging it OK. We have a few guys with batting averages that I don't know are scaring opponents over there in the dugout.

"So I had to put Tanner up there. He has some respect from the other coaches in the league. He's been in some tight situations before. I told him before the game, 'Hey, I'm going to need you to drive in a few for us.' Shoot, I might keep him in that spot. He's gotten a lot more confident lately swinging the bat."

As for the game-winning hit itself, English said it felt great to help the team win.

"I hit a slider (today), and I've been struggling with those this season," said English, who had the only other Gamecock hit Friday night and was 1-for-4 Saturday. "So it was good to see that."

English said he didn't mind hitting up in the order at all.

"Coach Holbrook told me he moved me up and to keep doing the same thing I've been doing, the same mindset," he said.

HARRINGTON HITS: Hitting just 1-for-23 (.043) coming into Saturday's game, Patrick Harrington broke out of his slump with a key two-out RBI single in the seventh right after English's hit to make the score 4-2. His 1-for-4 outing actually raised his average on the season to .097.

"Patrick's been solid for us," Holbrook said. "Again, you can't look at the stat sheet and say anything, but he brings some emotion, leadership, is a team guy and has played decent in the outfield.

"It was nice to see him get a big hit today."

ARENDAS QUARANTINED: Still battling an upper respiratory virus to go along with a laceration to his head suffered fielding balls during batting practice before Friday's game, DC Arendas remained at the team hotel Saturday to rest and heal.

GORE IMPROVING: Freshman second baseman Jordan Gore's health is improving, Holbrook said. He played while ill last night and was feeling better Saturday. He played flawlessly in the field and went 1-for-4 at the plate. Both he and Arendas were so ill they did not travel on the team bus to Athens on Thursday.

Texas A&M 3, No. 8 LSU 2
No. 9 USC 5, Georgia 2 No. 20 Vanderbilt 5, Missouri 1
No. 11 Ole Miss 7, Arkansas 4
Tennessee 5, No. 25 Kentucky 1
No. 5 Florida 4, No. 12 Alabama 3
Mississippi State at Auburn, 7 p.m.

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