NOTEBOOK: Tanner plays the matchups

It may have come as somewhat of a surprise when Ray Tanner chose to start Colby Holmes in South Carolina's NCAA Tournament opener against Manhattan. Look inside as Tanner explains that decision and more as the Gamecocks get ready for postseason play.

Ray Tanner has always operated under the mindset of not looking too far ahead and a belief that in most postseason scenarios you throw the best pitcher you have available.

So, it may have come as somewhat of a surprise Thursday when Tanner announced that Colby Holmes -- not staff ace Michael Roth -- would start Friday in the Gamecocks' Columbia Regional opener against Manhattan.

But don't confuse the decision as Tanner overlooking anyone or looking ahead, he says. Holmes is just simply a better matchup for Manhattan while Roth is a better matchup for Clemson or Coastal Carolina, which Carolina will play Saturday.

"It was a case where we felt like Michael would be a great matchup for Coastal or Clemson -- we're going to play Coastal or Clemson [Saturday]," Tanner said. "That was sort of the thought process going into it. Nothing to do with anything else other than that. He was going to pitch one of the first two games, we felt like it was the best matchup.

"We thought about it, we looked at it, we did some scouting reports, and when we got down to the continuation of the conversation, it was a case of, if we were playing a weekend tournament like this, when would we throw Roth? We said, when we played Coastal or Clemson more thna likely. We got back to the fact that we felt like it was our best matchup was to throw Colby in game 1 and Michael in game 2."

Freshman left-hander Jordan Montgomery was also in consideration to start the opener, but Tanner and Meyers decided to go with their veteran.

"After doing the scouting report, it looked like Colby was the best matchup, anyway," Tanner said.

Depending on the matchup, Montgomery could be the starter for Sunday's game.

Greiner out, Koumas activated

The 2011 national championship team got plenty of experience dealing with injuries. The 2012 Gamecocks have had to work around injuries to Holmes and sophomore right-hander Forrest Koumas at times, but had remained relatively injury free for much of the season.

But Carolina got its first dose of postseason adversity when freshman All-SEC catcher Grayson Greiner suffered a lateral meniscus tear of the bucket handle variety in Wednesday afternoon's practice.

Greiner underwent surgery at 7 Thursday morning and was scheduled to begin rehab the next day. He could be available as a designated hitter if the Gamecocks advance to a super regional but will not be available this weekend.

"We're certainly going to miss him this weekend," Tanner said. "We hate that that accident happened (Wednesday), but the good news is he should bounce back rather quickly."

Tanner and Griener believe the freak injury occurred when Greiners cleat got stuck in the ground taking batting practice.

In Greiner's absence, junior Dante Rosenberg will start at catcher. Rosenberg is batting .255 on the season in 15 starts and 24 appearances with the Gamecocks, 11-4 in games he's started according to Tanner.

While Rosenberg doesn't possess the offensive potential of Griener he's a more than capable defensive replacement who Tanner describes and mature and confident.

"We don't lack confidence in Dante Rosenberg," Tanner says. "It's not a situation where we're going, 'Oh wow, it's really going to take a toll on us,' I have tremendous confidence in Dante, and he's the kind of guy that he's excited about his opportunity and I think he'll do well."

While Greiner is out, the Gamecocks got surprisingly good news on Koumas. He left Friday's loss to Florida after re-irritating his elbow injury from earlier in the season but has been fine in his throwing sessions this week and is available to play.

Koumas could be the Gamecocks's starter in game 3 or 4 of the regional.

Sewitt brings streak to Columbia

If the Gamecocks are going to hold up their end of the bargain and give the state the rivalry matchup it wants for Saturday afternoon, they're going to have to go through one of the hottest pitchers in the country.

Senior sidewinder Taylor Sewitt gets the start on the mound for the Jaspers and the reliever-turned-starter owns an 11-1 record and a 2.40 ERA on the season.

"I'm definitely a little surprised," Sewitt admitted. "Going into it, I was confident I was going to have a good season, but I was not expecting to have the season I've had, and definitely this past weekend was something that was pretty special."

That's the understatement of the week.

The weekend Sewitt is referring to has nearly become a thing of legend around the country after he single-handedly carried his team to a MAAC Tournament Championship to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Sewitt earned wins in the final three games of the tournament and pitched 22.0 scoreless innings while striking out 20 in 295 pitches.

"The young man is thriving, I've watched some tape on him," Tanner says. "Our guys understand it, whether we'll be able to go up there and do anything with it or not, that's the challenge. He's really good, he's going to throw it in the strike zone and tell you good luck. As much as we want to win tomorrow, I think it's a great story for college baseball what he's been able to do."

The Gamecock hitters should be very familiar with Sewitt's style. The last two seasons, John Taylor and Jose Mata confused Carolina opponents with their sidearmed deliveries. But being familiar with his style and being successful against it are two completely different things.

In last season's regional against Florida, Sewitt, still a reliever at the time, entered the game with it already out of hand. The Gators raced out to a 12-0 lead in the first four innings. Sewitt's line? 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R and 3 K.

This year, Sewitt gets his opportunity to keep the game from getting out of hand.

"I don't know if we'll be able to hit him -- nobody has yet," Tanner said. "I think it's a case that our guys understand what we're going to face. We've had those guys, we've seen those guys, do you see them every day? No. That's one of the reasons I think guys like Sewitt are so good. It's unusual, it's unorthodox, it's not normal, and that's why it's so effective."

Extra bases

- Right-handed reliever Evan Beal missed practice with a stomach virus. He was given an antibiotic and told to get some rest. He should be available to pitch in the regional.

- Clemson is starting Kevin Pohle in its game Friday, but the Tigers have not yet named a starter for Saturday.

Right-handers Daniel Gossett (6-3, 4.50 ERA) and Dominic Leone (6-4, 5.49 ERA) would be the two most likely candidates.

- Coastal Carolina chose to start Austin Wallace against the Tigers and will start Tyler Herb on Saturday. Herb has an 8-2 record and a 2.87 ERA in 16 starts and has struck out 65 batters in 87.2 innings pitched.

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