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June 1, 2014

Diamond Extra: Schrock might miss Maryland game

It didn't take long for Max Schrock to leave his mark in No. 1 South Carolina's 9-0 victory over No. 4 Campbell in the Columbia Regional Sunday afternoon, but the sophomore slugger left the game just as quickly.

Now Schrock, still battling a back injury that has hampered him most of the season, might miss the Gamecocks' do-or-die game against Maryland Sunday night.

"I don't know if he's going to be able to go or not," said USC head coach Chad Holbrook, adding later: "We'd love to have him in there. I hope he can go tonight, but I'm not sure."

Schrock went 2-for-2 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored against Campbell. But he left the game in the top of the fourth inning after drilling a double into right field to score Gene Cone from second.

The swing, which pushed South Carolina's lead to 5-0, could very well be Schrock's last of the day, even with an elimination game against No. 2 Maryland - which beat USC 4-3 Saturday night - looming at 7 p.m.

Holbrook said he pinch-ran freshman Jordan Gore for Schrock so the standout second baseman could spend extra time in the training room USC squares off against the Terrapins.

"It's a flip of the coin," Holbrook said. "I'll just go on what Max tells me. He was awfully sore today, but he still came up big today."

Even with the early exit Sunday, Schrock leads all batters in the Columbia Regional with seven hits and a .583 (7-for-12) batting average. Playing - and playing exceptionally well - through pain has become the trademark of the oft-injured Chapel Hill native.

"You get a glimpse of the player that we know that we have in Max Schrock," said Holbrook. "It's just unfortunate this year that he's been banged up the whole year, and even though his numbers are decent, they could be even better.

"A healthy Max Schrock puts up All-American numbers. But he's been battling it all year. He's given his heart and soul for the team. He's trying to get out there and help us. He knows how important he is for our team.

"He's doing the best that he can, but he's not healthy. Kudos to him for sucking it up - not only sucking it up and playing, but producing as well. He's a tough nut, obviously."

PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS. South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook named junior closer Joel Seddon the starting pitcher for the Sunday night game against Maryland. Seddon is 3-1 with an SEC-leading 14 saves and a 0.83 ERA on the season.

The junior right-hander pitched the final five innings of South Carolina's 7-2 elimination game loss to Florida in the SEC Tournament last week and the last inning of USC's 5-2 victory over Campbell Friday night. It will be Seddon's first start of the season. His last start came on April 9, 2013 against The Citadel, when he lasted just two innings.

A BETTER DAY FOR PANKAKE. Junior third baseman Joey Pankake was the main target of public scrutiny after USC's 4-3 loss to Maryland Saturday night. Pankake was batting .125 in Columbia Regional play entering the Campbell game Sunday, and grounded into a game-ending double play with runners on the corners and one out Saturday night.

But with two outs and Max Schrock on second in the third inning against Campbell, Pankake came through with his second hit of the Regional, lining a single into center field to score Schrock and give USC a 1-0 lead. The junior finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

A TOUCH OF REDEMPTION. Several other USC players improved their Columbia Regional fortunes against Campbell.

Connor Bright, who was 1-for-8 through the first two games of the Regional, belted an RBI double into left center field in the fourth inning to give the Gamecocks a 2-0 lead. It turned out to be Bright's only hit in four at-bats, though.

Tanner English, who went a combined 1-for-7 in the first two games of the Regional, also got a redemption moment with a bases-loaded RBI single into left field to push USC's lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning. English went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI against Campbell.

And Grayson Greiner, who didn't have a hit in either of South Carolina's first two NCAA postseason games, went 1-for-4 with a run scored and a walk in the victory over the Camels.

GETTING THEM IN. A day after struggling mightily to drive in runners in scoring position, the Gamecocks put on a clinic doing it against the Camels.

The Gamecocks hit .351 overall, but pushed their averages to .563 with runners on base, .615 with runners in scoring position and .500 with the bases loaded against Campbell Sunday.

The performance comes after after a night where South Carolina hit .231 with runners on base and .182 with runners in scoring position, and never once loaded the bases against Maryland. The Terrapins bested the Gamecocks in almost all of those categories Saturday night.

NEXT UP. The Gamecocks will move on to play No. 2 Maryland Sunday night at 7.

"We're going to have to play nine innings of really good baseball to have a chance to win," said Holbrook.


Friday, May 30
Game 1 - Maryland 4, Old Dominion 3.
Game 2 - South Carolina 5, Campbell 2.

Saturday, May 31
Game 3 - Campbell 4, Old Dominion 1
Game 4 - Maryland 4, South Carolina 3.

Sunday, June 1
Game 5 - South Carolina 9, Campbell 0.
Game 6 - No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Maryland - 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Monday, June 2
Game 7 - If necessary - 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

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