USC sophomore lefthander Jordan Montgomery tossed the first shutout of North Carolina in 97 games Sunday afternoon as the Gamecocks defeated the Tar Heels 8-0 in game two of the Chapel Hill Super Regional to force a deciding game Monday. That game will be played at 7:00 PM and be shown on ESPN2. UNC will be the home team.
Montgomery extended his post season scoreless streak to 26 innings. He allowed just four hits, struck out three and walked only one. 71 of his 121 pitches went for strikes as he recorded the first complete game of his career. He did not allow a runner to reach third in running his record to 6-1 on the season.
The Gamecocks had only eight eights but worked nine walks off of Tar Heel pitching and got another free pass with a hit by pitch.
(Chad Holbrook, Jordan Montgomery, Joey Pankake, Tanner English)
(Mike Fox, Hobbs Johnson, Landon Lassister)
For the second straight game USC got to the Tar Heel starter early and got him out of the game. A five run second inning forced Mike Fox to pull Hobbs Johnson. The Gamecocks batted around collecting four hits and a pair of walks.
Max Schrock led off with a double and went to third on a grounder to short by TJ Costen. Kyle Martin then worked a ten pitch walk to put runners on the corners. Tanner English executed a safety squeeze bunt down the first base line to score Schrock with the first run and beat the throw to first. After Graham Saiko flied to right with Martin advancing to third, Chase Vergason walked to load the bases. Joey Pankake laced a double down the left field line to score two for a 3-0 lead, and LB Dantzler followed with a two run single to make it 5-0.
The Gamecocks had a golden opportunity to put the game away in the fourth. They had the bases loaded with one out thanks to three walks. And they got the run home on a walk to Greiner to make it 6-0. The Tar Heels brought in hard throwing righty Taylore Cherry who got out of the inning by getting Schrock to pop up to third and by striking out Costen.
The onslaught continued in the fifth. With one out, English beat out a high chopper to first. He stole second in front of a walk to Saiko and then a double steal put runners on second and third. Vergason got English home with a sacrifice fly to right, and Saiko scored on a Pankake grounder to third that Colin Moran booted for an error. That made it 8-0 and would be the final scoring in the game.
Schrock led the Gamecocks with three hits. That helped to offset his adventurous day in the field where he committed a pair of errors and was shaky on a couple of other occasions. Pankake had a pair of hits and two RBIS, and English had two hits, three stolen bases, and made a sensational running, diving catch to rob Skye Bolt of extra bases in the top of the ninth.
A victory Monday places USC in the College World Series for the fourth straight year. Freshman lefthandfer Jack Wynkopp will get the start for the Gamecocks. He’s 7-3 with a 2.92 ERA but has not gotten past the fifth inning in his last three starts. The Tar Heels will counter with sophomore righthander Benton Moss who is 8-1 with a 3.78 ERA. He, too, hasn’t gone past the fifth inning in his last three starts.
USC is 43-19 and UNC is 56-10. The Tar Heels have not lost back to back games all season.
SOUTH CAROLINA KEY GAME NOTES
Dating back to the 2010 season, South Carolina is 8-1 in elimination games in the postseason. South Carolina went 4-0 in Omaha in 2010 and won three games in 2012 at the CWS with a loss to Arizona in the CWS Finals.
Jordan Montgomery’s first career shutout was the second shutout of the season by a Gamecock pitcher. Nolan Belcher pitched the previous shutout vs. Clemson on March 3 in an 8-0 victory over the Tigers.
Montgomery’s shutout was the first by a Gamecock pitcher in the postseason since Chris Hernandez on May 30, 2003 when Hernandez pitched a five-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over East Carolina in the NCAA Regional in Atlanta, Ga.
The Gamecocks’ top two hitters of the postseason did not have a hit but factored into Sunday’s win. Despite not getting a hit, sophomore first baseman Kyle Martin had a key walk and scored a run. He is the team’s leading hitter with a .450 average (9-for-20), a homer, six RBI and seven runs scored. Graham Saiko had three walks and two runs scored in Sunday’s win. He also has hit well in five postseason games with a .429 average (6-for-14) with six runs scored and six RBI in five postseason games.
Freshman Max Schrock went 3-for-5 with a run scored. His three hits are the most by him in a game since he tallied four at Tennessee on April 7, 2013.
South Carolina is hitting .339 as a team in the postseason (62-for-183) with 45 runs scored and a .423 on-base percentage. The Gamecocks have a team ERA of 2.42 in 44.2 innings pitched with nine walks to 40 strikeouts, opponents batting just .224 against the squad.