Montgomery returns, USC bats catch fire in sweep of Vols

Gamecocks hammer out 21 hits to sweep series from Vols

The Knoxville NewsApril 7, 2013 

South Carolina's Jordan Montgomery pitched Sunday and earned the win, his first outing in more than two months.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com

— Trailing 15-2 in the top of the ninth, Tennessee was one out away from getting a hot shower to wash away another lost day at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

But to further illustrate Tennessee’s current baseball plight Sunday, No. 15 South Carolina wouldn’t let it go.

Six more Gamecocks took their swings — four hits, two walks — before somebody had the good manners to fly out.

So the carnage ended at 19-2, Tennessee’s worst margin of defeat since an 18-0 loss at Auburn in 2010.

It was South Carolina's second-straight SEC series sweep and the most runs scored by the Gamecocks since they scored 20 in a 20-15 win over Alabama on May 2, 2010.

After the game, Tennessee coach Dave Serrano issued a wide-ranging apology:

“For anyone who has ever worn this uniform and represented this university, I apologize and I’m embarrassed for them, for where we’re at right now and where we should be.”

Where Tennessee is in the second year of Serrano’s rebuild is riding an eight-game losing streak for the first time since 2011, Todd Raleigh’s final campaign as coach.

“It’s not a good feeling at all,” said junior catcher Ethan Bennett, who briefly interrupted the misery with a solo home run in the fifth inning. “But we’ve still got to keep our chest out and heads up high. Once you put your head down you’re only gonna keep getting pushed down in the dirt even more.”

South Carolina (26-7, 8-4 SEC) did some pushing Sunday.

After cracking a season-high 17 hits Saturday, the Gamecocks topped themselves with a season-high 21. That’s three short of the Tennessee school-record 24 allowed against LSU in 2002.

The pitching-poor Vols (13-17, 3-9) have allowed 12 or more runs in half their SEC games, including all four series finales.

Serrano flipped his rotation, saving usual Friday-night man Zack Godley in hopes of avoiding another bloody Sunday.

It didn’t work. Godley, a former Bamberg-Ehrhardt standout, didn’t have his mojo working.

“I was leaving balls up, and they were taking advantage of it,” he said.

Godley (2-4) was touched for 12 hits and eight runs in six innings.

Grayson Greiner and Max Schrock led the Gamecocks with four hits and four RBIs apiece. Greiner and Brison Celek had home runs.

LB Dantzler added three hits and an RBI, while Chase Vergason had two hits, including a triple, and two RBIs.

Jordan Montgomery returned to the mound for USC, striking out two and allowing four hits in four innings. An arm injury kept him from throwing since he tossed eight shutout innings in a March 2 win over Clemson.

Colby Holmes (2-4) pitched the final five innings for the win. Holmes struck out three and allowed four hits and an earned run.

The Vols didn’t execute much of anything Sunday before a crowd of 2,637 sprinkled liberally with Gamecock fans. Not with their bats, gloves, feet or arms.

“I’m a big believer in the baseball gods,” Serrano said, “and I think the baseball gods are testing us to see how much we can endure until we step up and become tougher and start finding a way to get things done.

“Being lucky is hogwash. You make your own breaks and we’re not playing aggressive enough in any aspect to be making our own breaks right now.”

“Well, I’m not afraid to come out and say that. It’s like putting my foot in my mouth now. We went oh-and-three and weren’t really that close.”

USC returns to action at home on Tuesday against The Citadel. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

BOX SCORE: USC 19, Tennessee 2

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