It took a while to get going, but the Gamecock offense came alive (thanks in part to some fielding mistakes by the Tigers) and South Carolina topped Clemson 6-0 in TigerTown tonight.
Brison Celek and Grayson Greiner started things off with back-to-back singles. Shon Carson came in to run for Celek, and he and Greiner advanced on a sac bunt from TJ Costen. Tanner English was up next, and though he grounded out, Carson was able to zip home and avoid the tag at the plate for the Cocks’ first run of the night.
The Tigers came thisclose to evening things up in the bottom of the inning, when Jon McGibbon belted a ball into left field. Graham
Saiko reached up to try and make a catch, and the ball somehow landed back on the field, though it looked like it was a homer. Coach Jack Leggett came out to argue that the ball had in fact left the yard, but the umps weren’t having it and the run didn’t count for Clemson. If that didn’t make the orange-clad fans angry enough, Garrett Boulware was then tagged out at third after he overslid the bag.
Carolina really broke things open in the seventh inning. Costen reached first base – and advanced to second – when Shane Kennedy dropped the ball in left field. English and Saiko took back-to-back walks, prompting a pitching change for the Tigers, as Joseph Moorefield took over for starter Daniel Gossett.
Moorefield promptly walked Vergason to put the Yardcocks on top 2-0. Max Schrock hit a sac fly to bring in English, and LB Dantzler roped a base hit into right field to get Saiko across the dish. That was enough to end Moorefield’s day, and Clay Bates came in to handle pitching duties. He got Pankake to ground out and end the inning, but the damage had been done.
USC tacked on theirfinal two runs in the eighth inning. Kyle Martin led off with a single, Greiner walked, and Costen reached base on a fielder’s choice. Martin was out at third, but then English reached first on a throwing error and Greiner made it home. Saiko flied out to bring Costen across the plate and put the Gamecocks up 6-0. By that point, many of the orange-clad fans were heading for the exits (leaving behind lots of ugly orange-colored empty seats).
South Carolina starter Jordan Montgomery was fantastic again tonight. He worked eight innings (tying a career-high), allowed three hits, two walks, and struck out nine batters (a new personal record). He improves to 3-0 on the season. Monty’s performance earned praise from teammates and from head coach Chad Holbrook.
“Jordan Montgomery was the story of the game,” Holbrook said. “Incredible performance by him.”
Tyler Webb pitched the final inning and retired all three batters he faced. Gossett worked just over six inning and took the loss, dropping him to 1-1 on the season. He gave up four runs (only one was earned), three hits, and four walks, and tallied four strikeouts.
These teams will meet again Saturday at Greenville’s Fluor Field. The first pitch is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be televised on six stations in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia: WMYA in Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville, WTAT in Charleston, WFXB in Myrtle Beach/Florence, WJCL in Savannah and Augusta, and MeTV WOLO.4 in Columbia. It will also be broadcast on ESPN3 and of course on the radio. If you can’t watch/listen, you can always follow along with me on Twitter @CockyCountry.