Gamecocks' Walker playing despite broken bone


OMAHA, NE ( - South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker is in the lineup for the opener of the College World Series finals despite a broken bone in his wrist that put his status in doubt until a half-hour before the game against Florida.

The school said in a statement Monday afternoon that tests confirmed Walker has a fracture of the hamate bone in his left wrist. He was injured Friday night in the Gamecocks' 13-inning win over Virginia.

Walker is batting .355 out of the No. 3 spot to lead the Gamecocks.

The Gamecocks originally planned to have No. 1 pitcher Michael Roth play first base. But Walker was added to the lineup after he hit a couple of home runs in batting practice.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Walker popped out to shallow right field but earlier in the count, he swung and missed at a breaking ball and felt a pain in his left wrist. He tried to take batting practice Monday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, but he never stepped into the cage after feeling pain in his dry swings.

"Obviously, we're hoping for the best but it wasn't encouraging today," South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said. "We're going to wait until we get back to Columbia to find out the extent of it.

If Walker has to come out of the game, that presents a lot of issues for the Gamecocks. Senior Robert Beary took ground balls at first today during batting practice before it was moved indoors due to weather. Junior Michael Roth is also an option.

Whether Beary plays first will depend in large part on Brady Thomas and if he can catch. The senior has an injured left foot that prohibits lateral mobility behind the plate.

"Brady feels like he's close enough to doing that," Tanner said. "If not, we'll have to rethink it. Michael Roth can play first as well. It's too be determined."

Walker has been the team's leading hitter for most of the season and has started every game to date for the Gamecocks, one of only two players to do so. He's hitting .355 this year with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs, which put him atop the USC charts in all three Triple Crown categories.

"He's been our best hitter start to finish almost," Tanner said. "The guy is a key component to our offense. It's a blow."

South Carolina has endured plenty of injuries this season, including missed time ball five of USC's eight opening day starters in the field.

The fact that the Gamecocks have fought through adversity and had a makeshift lineup at times, Tanner believes, will give the team a bit of confidence it can battle through this scenario as well.

"He's tremendously upset," Tanner said. "As far as the team is concerned, we'll be disappointed but you have to play anyway. Teams have adversity. We've had our share and we may have another situation to deal with now."

South Carolina and Florida will meet up in game one of the best of three series on Monday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The Gamecocks will send freshman Forrest Koumas to the mound and the Gators will counter with sophomore Hudson Randall.

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