With three wins in four games last week, two over Clemson and one over Furman, South Carolina improved to 8-2 and moved up to No. 6 in the latest Baseball America Top 25 poll. Before the Gamecocks enter their final weekend of non-conference play, lets take a quick look back at the highs and lows from the games against those teams from the Upstate.
Jordan Montgomery and Nolan Belcher
The two lefty weekend starters were both masterful in leading USC to a pair of shutout wins against Clemson. They have cemented their places in the rotation as the Gamecocks moved one step closer to the start of SEC play in two weeks against Missouri.
Belcher pitched the first complete-game shutout of his career in Sundays 8-0 victory. He allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out seven. It was the first complete-game shutout by a USC pitcher since Sam Dyson beat Arkansas 5-0 in 2010. And it was the first complete-game shutout against Clemson by a Gamecock since Rodney Richey won a 5-0 decision in 1986 at Sarge Frye Field.
Montgomery worked eight scoreless innings in Fridays 6-0 win, as he didnt allow a runner to reach third base on three hits and two walks with a career-high nine strikeouts. He was named the Tom Price Award winner at the conclusion of the series, the award given to the Gamecocks MVP for his performance against the Tigers. Hes only the third USC pitcher to earn the award after Aaron Rawl (2003) and Nick Godwin (2008).
Sophomore T.J. Costen has gotten off to a slow start with three hits in 25 at-bats for a .120 average. After winning the job in the preseason with a good combination of speed and power, Costen has struggled to find a rhythm at the plate. He also leads the team with eight strikeouts. Connor Bright replaced him in the series finale against Clemson and went 2-for-3 with a two-run double.
Senior first baseman LB Dantzler has provided a big bat in the heart of the lineup all season. Hes batting .471 (16-for-34) with a .578 on-base percentage, 10 runs scored, four homers and 15 RBIs, all team highs. He hit a monstrous home run over the right-center fence at Fluor Field Saturday. Dantzler currently holds a seven-game hitting streak as well.
Senior left-hander Adam Westmoreland also threw well in Saturdays loss, tossing 4 1/3 innings and allowing no earned runs on three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. USC coach Chad Holbrook stated that Westmoreland has earned more opportunities to pitch in key situations.
Theres little to report, although Holbrook concedes that he will continue to tinker with the lineup and the batting order until it begins clicking a little better. He didnt like his teams approach at the plate Saturday, noting many of his hitters were too passive. With five games before SEC play begins, it wouldnt be a surprise to see Holbrook find a little more playing time for some of those who havent seen the field as much yet.
JUST THE FACTS
... Sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner led the team in the weekend series by hitting .364 (4-for-11) with a double and two RBIs. He also stole a pair of bases and caught both of the shutouts.
... Four Gamecocks have started all 10 games this season Dantzler, center fielder Tanner English, left-fielder Graham Saiko and middle infielder Max Schrock.
... English has reached base safely in all 10 games while hitting .300 (9-for-30) with nine walks. His on-base percentage is .475.
... Senior left-hander Tyler Webb, the teams closer, has made a team-high five appearances and has three saves. With nine strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings, Webb has dominated as opponents are hitting a mere .143 against him.
... Tuesday, Ball State, 7 p.m., Carolina Stadium
... Wednesday, Ball State, 4 p.m., Carolina Stadium
... Friday, Rider, 7 p.m., Carolina Stadium
... Saturday, Rider, 4 p.m., Carolina Stadium
... Sunday, Rider, 1:30 p.m., Carolina Stadium