Two games. Two wins. Two great pitching performaces. And now USC is one win away from a third straight trip to the College World Series championship series.
Freshman lefty Jordan Montgomery pitched eight scoress innings to lead USC to a 2-0 win over Arkansas Thursday night at TD Ameritrade Park. It was the Gamecocks second win of the day in Omaha, making them just the third team in CWS history to win a pair of games in one day. They are the first team to accomplish the feat since Holy Cross did it in 1952.
Just like senior lefty Michael Roth did earlier in the day in a 4-1 win over Kent State, Montgomery baffled the Razorback hitters all night. The Sumter Southpaw gave up three hits, struck out six and walked only one hitter. He threw 89 pitches, 56 of them were strikes.
AUDIO: USC press conference with Ray Tanner, Jordan Montgomery, Christian Walker & Tanner English [10:39]
AUDIO: Arkansas press conference with Dave Van Horn, Brandon Moore & Matt Vinson [3:20]
Montgomery’s only real trouble spot was the 5th.
With two outs, he hit Bo Bigham and then gave up a single to left to Derek Bleeker. Bigham attempted to go to third on the play and was thrown out by Tanner English.
That was the only runner Montgomery allowed to reach second base.
He was replaced in the top of the 9th by Matt Price who was able to close out the win to keep the Gamecocks alive in Omaha.
Price struck out the first batter he faced then walked pinch hitter Jacob Mahan, the #9 hitter. He then got Tim Carver looking on a 2-2 pitch.
With two outs the game was then disrupted for a couple of minutes when a fan ran onto the field. He was quickly tackled in centerfield by security guards and led away.
That would prove to be the biggest drama of the inning as Price finished things off without further trouble.
The Gamecocks scored their only two runs in the second inning. Erik Payne led off with a double and scored on a double down the left field line by English. Two batters later Chase Vergason singled to score English from third.
After Vergason’s RBI single Brandon Moore replaced Arkansas starter Randall Fant and got a double play grounder out of Joey Pankake to end the inning.
Moore then retired ten of the next 11 Gamecock batters and was able to get out of a jam in the 6th.
LB Dantzler reached on a one out error by the first baseman and went to second on a passed ball. Adam Matthews singled to shallow centerfield but Dantzler stopped at third, even though the ball was kicked by Matt Vinson.
That indecision proved costly as Dantzler was thrown out at home on a comebacker to the mound by Payne, and English hit a line drive to short to end the inning.
AUDIO: Ray Tanner [5:22]
AUDIO: Christian Walker [2:58]
USC will play its third game in two days tomorrow night in a winner-take-all matchup with Arkansas. The winning team will get Arizona in the championship series that begins Sunday.
Arkansas plans to start righthander DJ Baxendale. He’s 8-5 with a 3.07 ERA. USC has not yet announced a starter though pitching coach Jerry Meyers said after the game he was leaning towards righthander Colby Holmes who started against Arkansas Monday and last just 3.2 innings.