Thanks to stellar pitching, South Carolina lives to play another day in Omaha.
Behind a tremendous start from freshman Jordan Montgomery, USC blanked Arkansas 2-0 tonight in Omaha. The win forces another elimination game between the two teams tomorrow night.
The Cocks scored their runs in the top of the second inning. Erik Payne got things started with a double, and Tanner English followed suit, bringing Payne home. English got to third when Grayson Greiner grounded out, and Chase Vergason knocked an RBI single to bring English home.
The bats went quiet after that, but those two runs were enough. The Hogs were unable to get any runners home, and Carolina got their first-ever CWS shut out victory.
The Yardcocks did have a chance to pad their lead in the top of the sixth, but couldn’t capitalize. LB Dantzler reached first thanks to an error, then advanced to second on a passed ball. Adam Matthews laced a one-out single, but Dantzler advanced only one base. Their was a fielding miscue by Arkansas, but Dantzler didn’t go home. He ended up being tagged out at the plate on a fielder’s choice on the next play. Luckily, that didn’t come back to haunt South Carolina.
Defense played a big role in the Cocks’ victory tonight. More than once, they turned double plays that ended a Razorbacks scoring threat and kept the momentum going the way of the garnet and black. The most impressive one involved a diving catch by Christian Walker in the eighth, after Montgomery had walked the lead off batter.
USC outhit Arkansas 8-3, and the Hogs also had one error. Vergason and Walker led the Gamecocks at the plate, each going 2-for-4. Joe Serrano, Derrick Bleeker, and Matt Vinson all went 1-for-3 to lead the Razorbacks.
Montgomery worked eight scoreless innings in which he allowed only three runs and only one walk, and also struck out six batters. Matt Price came in to pitch the ninth and held UA hitless. He walked one batter and K’d two. Montgomery earned the win and improves to 6-1 on the season. Price got the save, his 13th of the year.
Hogs starter Randall Fant lasted only 1 1/3 innings and took the loss, dropping his record to 2-3. He gave up two runs on four hits, walked one batter, and didn’t strike anybody out. Brandon Moore, Trent Daniel, and Nolan Sanburn combined for 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball.
Incredible pitching was huge for the Cocks today. In their combined 17 innings and 53 batters faced today, Michael Roth and Montgomery walked just one hitter and had only five three-ball counts. They also allowed just one run on five hits.
With both of Thrusday’s victories, USC became the first team since 1952 to win two games on the same day in the CWS; the last team to do it was Holy Cross. The Yardcocks are also the first team since 1987 to play two games on the same day at the CWS.
Tomorrow’s elimination game is set to begin at 9 ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2 (with Mike Patrick and Orel Hershiser again – oh boy!). Colby Holmes is likely to start on the mound for Carolina.