Notebook: Holbrook on mission to boost lineup

Only Dantzler, Vergason hitting above .300

nwhite@thestate.comMarch 2, 2013 

Joey Pankake reacts after striking out in the sixth inning Saturday at Fluor Field in Greenville.

DWAYNE MCLEMORE — dmclemore@thestate.com

— With seven hits on the day — two of them solo homers — USC coach Chad Holbrook knows his team can swing the bats better. He still likes his offense, but he would like to see a more consistent approach from his hitters.

“A few of our guys might be feeling a little bit sorry for themselves (about) getting off to a slow start,” he said. “We’ve got to be a little bit more aggressive one through nine (in the batting order).”

Only LB Dantzler and Chase Vergason are hitting above .300, and the team has a .265 average. Holbrook will continue to experiment with the batting order.

“I have a feeling the lineup you saw today probably isn’t the lineup you’re going to see in May. We’re still trying to figure a few things out,” he said.

Players such as Connor Bright, Sean Sullivan, Brison Celek, Kyle Martin and Erik Payne haven’t seen a lot of playing time yet, but that could change

“There are guys that didn’t play today and didn’t play yesterday that deserve to play,” Holbrook said. “So we’re going to continue to look at different lineups here and there. We’ll sit down with the coaches and make what we think are some good decisions. We’ve got a long way to go here.”

Expect Dantzler to stay where he is in the lineup. The senior first baseman is hitting .484 with four homers and 15 RBIs, all team-bests.

Big Westy

Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland relieved starter Colby Holmes and kept USC in Saturday’s game. He gave up no earned runs in 4 1/3 innings while walking none and striking out seven.

Holbrook called the performance “very encouraging,” especially after Westmoreland rarely pitched down the stretch last season.

“Adam has been throwing very well. He kept us in the game and he gave us a chance,” Holbrook said. “That performance warrants more opportunities in bigger situations down the road when we’re trying to win a game instead coming from behind.”

Westmoreland, who is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two appearances, simply went about his business

“I just try to go out and keep us in it and give us a chance to win,” he said.

Brother act

Clemson freshman right-hander Clate Schmidt got the win in his first start against the Gamecocks. But there’s going to be a split allegiance in his family.

His younger brother, Clarke, a junior right-higher from Acworth, Ga., has committed to play his college baseball for South Carolina. That could create an All-Schmidt matchup in the series in 2015.

Fan appeal

The crowd of 7,125 at Fluor Field, the home of the Class A Greenville Drive, a Boston Red Sox affiliate, tied the attendance that South Carolina and Clemson had in their 2011 game here. That figure is the second-highest number in ballpark history, trailing the 7,129 who showed up in a 2009 Drive game to watch John Smoltz pitch in a rehab assignment.

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