Matt Connolly

Injuries putting South Carolina’s depth to the test

LT Tolbert left Saturday’s game against Michigan State with a thumb injury.
LT Tolbert left Saturday’s game against Michigan State with a thumb injury.

For the second straight night, a South Carolina starter was pulled from the game with an injury when second baseman LT Tolbert left Saturday’s game against Michigan State with a jammed thumb.

Justin Row pinch hit for Tolbert in the sixth inning after Tolbert hit a two-run double to right the previous inning.

Tolbert injured his left thumb on the play while sliding into second.

“He’s day-to-day,” Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “I don’t know if he’ll have to go get X-rays tonight or not. But I think he’ll be OK. We’ll see.”

Tolbert’s injury occurred a day after center fielder and leadoff hitter TJ Hopkins was removed from the game after the first inning with a right leg injury.

South Carolina announced Saturday afternoon that Hopkins has a right strained quad.

“TJ will be out until Tuesday, and hopefully, our fingers are crossed that we can get him ready for next weekend,” Holbrook said.

Before the season, Holbrook said he had 12 or 13 position players he wanted to play regularly.

That depth will be important for the Gamecocks on Sunday against Michigan State, Tuesday against Furman and, potentially, next weekend at Tennessee depending on how quickly Tolbert and Hopkins are able to bounce back.

“We do have some depth and guys that are capable. Our depth is getting put to the test right now,” Holbrook said.

In addition to position players, the Gamecocks are also down All-American closer Tyler Johnson, who left USC’s game last Saturday against Clemson with arm soreness and has not returned to the mound.

Colie Bowers earned a save Friday night and Josh Reagan followed with one on Saturday, but the Gamecocks are thin in the bullpen since they will play their fifth game in six days on Sunday.

“It would have been nice to have Tyler (Saturday). We can’t go on too much longer without him,” Holbrook said. “We need him to be the team we want to be, but guys are stepping up. Colie last night and Reagan tonight. Hopefully somebody will step up again tomorrow.”

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