Senior Day shutdown

Montgomery cruises as USC clinches series vs. Georgia

Montgomery cruises as USC clinches the series and a winning SEC record

nwhite@thestate.comMay 11, 2013 

— The only suspense in Saturday’s game between South Carolina and Georgia came down to how long USC left-hander Jordan Montgomery could hold on to his no-hit bid.

It lasted until the seventh inning, when Georgia’s Kyle Farmer ripped a one-out triple and scored on Jared Walsh’s sacrifice fly. But by that point, the No. 15 Gamecocks were well on their way to a 7-1 win at Carolina Stadium.

Montgomery (4-1) allowed one run on two hits and three walks in his seven innings. The sophomore stepped up on Senior Day as he lowered his ERA to 1.86 — though USC coach Chad Holbrook said Montgomery still wasn’t at his best.

“I never felt like he had his normal command. I didn’t think he was as crisp as he usually is. He was behind a lot of hitters,” Holbrook said. “But that being said, he was good enough to get them out, and he did that by changing speeds. He’s good enough to throw some changeups even when he’s behind in the count. As good as he was, he can be much better.”

The Gamecocks (36-14, 15-10 SEC) clinched the series, their sixth SEC series victory on the season, and secured a winning record in the conference with four SEC games remaining.

“We accomplished a lot today by getting to that 15-win mark in the SEC,” Holbrook said. “I’m proud of the way the kids played with intensity, focus and concentration the last 18 innings. Hopefully, we can finish it off tomorrow.”

The Gamecocks will attempt to get their fourth conference series sweep Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop (6-2, 2.66 ERA) on the mound. USC has rebounded from being swept in two games by Vanderbilt a week ago with the two wins over Georgia (18-30, 5-18).

“It was huge after last weekend,” Montgomery said. “We needed some big wins this weekend. We put together some hits and got some runs.”

Senior right-hander Colby Holmes pitched two scoreless innings to close the game. South Carolina scored a run each in the second inning, on Connor Bright’s two-out RBI double, and the fourth inning, on Grayson Greiner’s sacrifice fly that brought home Joey Pankake, who had tripled.

The Gamecocks built on that lead with three two-out runs in the fifth and one run each in the sixth and seventh. Pankake and Graham Saiko led USC’s eight-hit attack with two hits each. The team also saluted nine seniors — Holmes, Nolan Belcher, LB Dantzler, Patrick Sullivan, Tyler Webb, Adam Westmoreland, Chase Vergason, Sean Sullivan and Dante Rosenberg — on Senior Day.

“There are some special kids in that group of players who have meant a lot to our program, not only this season but seasons past,” Holbrook said.

He looks forward to a few more accomplishments before this season is over. He noted his team’s solid pitching, hitting, base-running and defense the past two games.

“We’re certainly not an unbeatable team by any stretch, but when we play that way, we’ll be in our fair share of games,” Holbrook said.

The players hope to keep gathering momentum as they prepare for their final conference series against Mississippi State, the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament.

“We have to come out tomorrow with the same intensity we had today and the day before,” Pankake said. “Every game is important.”

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