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May 10, 2014

Diamond extra: Walking a fine line



Imagine how well Max Schrock would be hitting if he was totally healthy.

Since returning to the lineup for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday night in the 15-1 romp past Wofford, Schrock is 5-for-9 with three RBI and one run scored and has boosted his average to .268 (26-for-97), 21 points higher than when the first pitch of Friday night's 8-2 victory was thrown.

Chad Holbrook realizes back issues are delicate, so he will seek to walk a fine line trying to keep Schrock healthy enough to play for the next six weeks.

That's why he yanked Schrock from the game late in order to start his treatment in the training room.

"He's sore right now," Holbrook said. "That's why I took him out of the game. We started treatment early. I'm going to have to manage this thing for the rest of the year. There might be days when he can't play. And there might be games when I'm able to get him out to start treatment so we can get him back the next day. We're going to have to manage this thing the best we can."

Schrock, Joey Pankake and Grayson Greiner were a combined 8-for-12, two RBI and five runs scored in Friday's win.

"They set the tone for us offensively," Holbrook said.

NOTES:

-- Gene Cone stroked his third double of the season in the bottom of the fifth. It was a bases clearing hits and increased his RBI total to 17.

-- Chad Holbrook on significant difference between No. 4 seed (bye and double elimination) and No. 5 seed (single elimination contest vs. No. 12 seed) in SEC Tournament: "We've won a couple of national championships without breaking a sweat in the SEC Tournament. I can't wait to get there and I hope we play well there. The four seed does get an advantage in the tournament, no doubt about it. But I just want to win the series this weekend and see where the chips fall."

-- Holbrook on whether USC must finish among the top four teams in the SEC to have a realistic hope of garnering a national seed: "I'm sure that matters, but I can't control that. Sure, we can control getting into the top four and we're going to try like heck to do it. But I can't control how the selection committee looks at those things. I do now we've won a lot of games and our RPI (#11) is decent. Now we have to finish strong. If we do that, it will put us in the conversation."

-- Missouri won the Big 12 tournament title in 2012 before joining the SEC. Friday night's loss dropped the Tigers to 6-19 in the SEC and likely extinguished any remaining hope of qualifying for the SEC Tournament. So, they're still adjusting to life in the SEC. "They're adjusting to the league, I'm sure, but they've won some games. They were in the tournament last year. We have a lot of respect for Missouri. They beat us in Game 3 up there last year. They have a great history and great tradition. They're used to winning."

SEC SCORES (Fri May 9):
USC 8, Missouri 2 (USC leads 1-0)
Vanderbilt 3, Florida 0 (Tied 1-1)
Kentucky 6, Auburn 3 (UK leads 1-0)
Arkansas 3, Texas A&M 2 (Arky leads 1-0)
Ole Miss 12, Georgia 2 (OM leads 1-0)
Tennessee 4, Miss. State 2 (UT leads 1-0)
Alabama at LSU, PPD

SEC EAST STANDINGS: Florida 19-7, Vanderbilt 15-11, USC 14-11, Tennessee 11-14, Kentucky 11-14, Georgia 9-15-1, Missouri 6-19.

OVERALL SEC STANDINGS:
1. Florida 19-7
2. Ole Miss 16-9
3. Vanderbilt 15-11
4. LSU 13-10-1
5. Mississippi State 14-11, South Carolina 14-11
7. Alabama 13-11
8. Texas A&M 12-13, Arkansas 12-13
10. Tennessee 11-14 (Won series vs. Kentucky)
11. Kentucky 11-14
12. Georgia 9-15-1
***************************************************
13. Auburn 9-16
14. Missouri 6-19.

Note: 12 teams qualify for SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. from May 20-25. Top four teams earn first-round byes



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