COLUMBIA, S.C. -
The South Carolina baseball team concluded fall team practice this past weekend with the Garnet & Black World Series.
It would be the Black squad, managed by junior right-hander Matt Price, that would come out on top, winning two of three games against the Garnet team managed by senior left-hander Michael Roth. The Garnet squad would win game one of the three-game set, 3-2, with a three-run fifth inning highlighted by a RBI single from freshman infielder Connor Bright and a RBI double courtesy of Grayson Greiner. Junior right-hander Colby Holmes hurled three scoreless innings as well. The Black team bounced back in game two on Saturday with a 5-0 win that featured a three-run homer off the bat of junior infielder Chase Vergason as well as scoreless innings from freshman right-hander Joel Seddon, junior right-hander Al Hentz, junior right-hander Hunter Privette and freshman right-hander Drake Thomason. The rubber game would go to the Black team by the score of 2-1 on Sunday. Patrick Harrington and Dante Rosenberg each had RBI hits and junior left-hander Adam Westmoreland hurled five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Tuesday afternoon head coach Ray Tanner met with the media to discuss his team and his thoughts after the fall workouts.
(on the 2012 team)
"We have a lot of guys back, a veteran corps back. We have a chance with some veteran experience to put a pretty good team on the field."
(on fall practice)
"I think fall practices are always the same as far as the way I approach it. No matter that the players change, they graduate, they get drafted, they come and they go. We don't deviate from our practice schedule too often. We try to do the same things, get better and stress the fundamentals. We have competition on the weekends (scrimmages) and get as prepared as we can for the next season. I don't think about what has happened in the past or too much about the future. We just think about what we have to do today and try to put a pretty good team together. That may sound like coach-speak but that's the truth. We are just trying to be as good as we need to be today and be ready when the bell rings in February."
(on replacing three infielders from last year's team)
"It is early November, there will be some opportunities in early February for things to change. They have had a pretty good run in the last six weeks with our team segment and skill work prior to that to establish themselves. If we started today, LB Dantzler would be our third baseman. He ended up leading our team in hitting in fall drills, did a nice job defensively. We've got some work to do there but I think he is a pretty good player and he could be an offensive guy for us come springtime. Joey Pankake, a true freshman from Easley (S.C.), at this point, has won the shortstop job. He finished I believe third in hitting for the fall. He had some errors early but didn't make as many late. Very talented, tremendous throwing arm from shortstop, he may end up pitching a little bit. He had three appearances this fall and was not scored upon. He brings some offensive prowess and ability to play defense as well. Second base, right now, Chase Vergason kind of separated himself a little bit. Solid player from junior college, he knows how to play. He was able to perform because of his experience and knowledge. Connor Bright, the freshman from Wando (S.C.), had a great run his last two weeks. He can play all over the place. He's a guy that gives us some depth and could make some head way for himself because he did swing the bat. T.J. Costen missed a little bit of time because of a hamstring pull. He's not quite the runner Tanner English is but he is a guy with tremendous athleticism. Tanner Lovick, junior college shortstop, didn't swing the bat well this fall, but did prove to us he could be solid defensively."
(on the catchers)
"Behind the plate, Grayson Greiner and Dante Rosenberg probably had the best falls of any two catchers since I've been coaching, as far as a tandem is concerned. That's a key position. We had Brady Thomas and Robert Beary last year, they did a really stellar job for us the entire year. Two experience guys that are gone and we plugged in Greiner, a true freshman, and Dante Rosenberg, who is coming off a redshirt year from a back injury, and those guys caught the majority of the innings this fall and were outstanding. Those guys really made me comfortable behind the plate and I think that is one reason why our pitching staff had a really good fall."
(on returning players)
"One thing that I'm not surprised about, necessarily, but I needed to see it, was the veteran presence. I needed to see (Evan) Marzilli being the junior that he is now, a leader on the field. Jake Williams, Adam Matthews, I needed to see those guys assume this team a little bit. Christian Walker, Matt Price and Michael Roth, I needed to see that emerge from those other guys. I'm quite pleased with where we are from that standpoint. I think when you are able to bring back guys like Matthews and Marzilli and Jake Williams and Michael Roth and Matt Price. Colby Holmes is back again, Forrest Koumas has been in the program, Tyler Webb (is back), and you have a chance to put a good team back on the field if your veterans take enough ownership. You are going to have some new players, everybody does, but if you have enough veterans that will assume the proper type of ownership, I think you have a chance to be pretty good. You still got to go out and play but you have to start with that kind of makeup and I'm happy with where we are right now."
(on the pitchers)
"I thought Adam Westmoreland had a really good fall. I think he led our total innings pitched in the scrimmages and his ERA was very low. He had a bunch of strikeouts, didn't give up a lot of hits. His velocity is probably not back to what it once was but his pitchability has been pretty good, that gives us some comfort."
"If you look (at our rotation one way), you can start the weekend with Roth, Price and probably Colby Holmes. You put Koumas in the bullpen, Tyler Webb down there, we have some other guys, two or three pretty good-looking freshmen. The question is, will you be able to get at the back end what Price gave us. It remains to be seen. I don't think you ever go into a situation where you refuse to change, we will probably make some adjustments as we need to but Matt Price could pitch a lot more innings then he has pitched before. That may be the way we go. I think you have to evaluate it as you go. You feel pretty good out front with those guys. Koumas is pretty excited about the bullpen."
(on the outfield)
"I'm not sure right now. Jake Williams is a guy that has played really well for us, and if you go back a year ago, he's a solid outfielder that makes most the plays, I probably undersold him a little bit. He runs great routes, he may not run a 6.4, 60 but he runs great routes and catches balls he is supposed to and he came up with one of the biggest plays in the history of the program. He's solid. Marzilli is good in center, he had to play left and right some because of Jackie Bradley Jr. being here, but Marzilli can really play center. So can Tanner English, a true freshman, you don't get many guys as talented as Tanner is and Adam Matthews is back in right and he continues to be improved. We have four really good outfielders with Tanner English in the mix. Tanner English has to be on the field. He didn't swing the bat as well in the fall as we would have liked to him to or as well as he would have liked but he has the kind of speed to change the game. He continues to get better and Coach Holbrook is going to spend a lot of time with him improving his bunting and to keep balls out of the air. You have things happen, sometimes you have four and that is not enough but those four have to play."
South Carolina is the back-to-back defending national champion in NCAA Division I Baseball after winning consecutive titles at the 2010 and 2011 College World Series. South Carolina has 10 College World Series appearances including five in the last 10 years under head coach Ray Tanner. Under Tanner's leadership, South Carolina owns the fourth highest win total in the nation in the last 12 years with a 577-231 record. South Carolina is one of eight schools to appear in the NCAA Regional every season in the last 12 years including nine NCAA Super Regional appearances in that span, one of only five schools to accomplish the feat.
Carolina owns more overall wins than any SEC team in the last 12 years and more conference wins than any SEC team in the last 12 years with a 222-137 conference record. South Carolina is the only SEC school to record 40 or more wins each season from 2000-present and the only SEC school to reach the NCAA Regional every season in the last 12 years. The Gamecocks also have the most NCAA Super Regional appearances of the 12 SEC schools in the last 12 years.
Head coach Ray Tanner is the second winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history with a .699 winning percentage in 15 seasons at the helm of the Garnet & Black.