USC Blanks Arkansas 2-0 To Force Friday Game
Omaha, NE (USC SID) -- The South Carolina Gamecocks survived their second elimination game of the day and kept their national title hopes alive with a 2-0 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The Gamecocks (48-18) and Razorbacks (46-21) will meet again on Friday at 9 p.m. ET with the winner advancing to the championship series.
For the second consecutive game, the Gamecocks rode the stellar pitching of a left-handed starter. In Thursday’s first game, it was senior Michael Roth who twirled a complete game two-hitter in a 4-1 win over Kent State. In the nightcap, it was freshman southpaw Jordan Montgomery who was just as impressive in front of an announced attendance of 23,593. Montgomery, a 6-3, 215-pounder from Sumter, S.C., surrendered just three singles and a walk while fanning six over 8.0 scoreless innings. He threw 89 pitches, 56 for strikes. Matt Price fanned two in working around a one-out walk in the ninth for the save, his 13th of the season.
“For the second time today, we got an absolute wonderful game out of our lefties,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “Jordan (Montgomery) followed up what Michael (Roth) did earlier today. He was outstanding. He's had some good games for us this year, and this was the best one. We had some pretty solid defense behind him. A couple big double plays, and the play that Walker made late in the game was huge. But Jordan was very, very special on the mound. We scratched, got a couple of runs, and it held up.”
For the first time in four games at the College World Series, the Gamecocks scored the game’s first run. Erik Payne led off the Carolina second inning with a double down the leftfield line and Tanner English followed with another two-base hit to left, putting the Gamecocks on top 1-0. English moved to third on Grayson Greiner’s groundout, and then scored on Chase Vergason’s RBI single to center. Vergason, who finished the regular season with just five RBI, has collected eight in the postseason.
That was all the runs Montgomery (6-1) would need. He retired 12 consecutive batters during one stretch after allowing a first inning single to Joe Serrano. The streak ended with two out in the bottom of the fifth when Montgomery hit Bo Bigham with a pitch. Derrick Bleeker followed with a single to left, but English gunned down Bigham at third for the final out of the inning. Bigham was the only Razorback to reach second base in the contest.
The Gamecocks had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the sixth but ran themselves out of the inning. With one out, LB Dantzler reached on an error and moved to second on a passed ball. Adam Matthews stroked a single to center, but Dantzler stopped at third, even as the ball was misplayed in the outfield. With runners at the corners, Payne tapped back to the mound and Dantzler was tagged out at the plate on a fielder’s choice. English lined hard to short to end the scoring threat.
In both the sixth and eighth innings, Arkansas got the lead off man on base, but both times Carolina came up with a double play to quickly end the uprising.
Arkansas starter Randall Fant (2-3) was tagged with the loss after lasting just 1.1 innings in which he allowed four hits and a walk to the nine batters he faced. Brandon Moore kept the Razorbacks in the contest with 5.2 shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and one walk with one strikeout.
The Gamecocks finished the night with eight hits and left eight runners on base. Christian Walker and Vergason led the way with two hits apiece.
ESPN will carry Friday night’s deciding contest with the winner facing Arizona in the championship series that begins Sunday. Arizona went through its bracket undefeated, eliminating Florida State on Thursday afternoon. Friday night’s game can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station 107.5 FM, “The Game.”
South Carolina Game Notes
*-With two victories on Thursday, South Carolina became the first team since 1952 to win two games on the same day in the MCWS. Only two other teams have accomplished this feat, Holy Cross (June 15, 1952) and Tennessee (June 16, 1951).
*-The Gamecocks are the first team since 1987 to play two games on the same day at the MCWS. That year Georgia completed a suspended game against Stanford on May 31, then played a full game against Arkansas. The last time a team played two complete games was in 1980. That year both Michigan and California played two complete games on the same day. Michigan faced Miami and Arizona on June 2, 1980. California played Michigan and Clemson on June 1, 1980.
*-South Carolina pitchers faced three over the minimum in today’s two games.
*-South Carolina has now won six straight MCWS elimination games dating back to the 2010 MCWS.
*-South Carolina has allowed four runs or fewer in all eight of its NCAA Tournament games this season. The only other teams in this year’s field to allow four runs or fewer in every game are Prairie View and Rice, neither of which made it out of regionals.
*-The Gamecock pitching staff closed the game with a 1.68 ERA (75.0 IP, 14 ER) in the NCAA Tournament, including a 1.16 mark by the bullpen. South Carolina’s relief corps has fanned 31 and allowed three earned runs on just 11 hits in 23.1 innings this postseason.
*-The last team to make it to the MCWS and complete its showing without allowing more than four runs in any NCAA Tournament game was Miami (FL) in 1982. That year, Miami swept the Atlantic Regional with wins over Stetson (18-2), South Florida (9-4) and Stetson again (15-3) before going 5-0 in the MCWS (wins of 7-2 over Maine, 4-3 over Wichita State, 2-1 over Texas, 10-4 over Maine and 9-3 over Wichita State).
*-South Carolina’s 29-2 (.935) record over the past three seasons in the NCAA Tournament is the best three-year postseason record in NCAA history (must make tournament at least two out of three years to qualify). The second-best mark belongs to Miami (FL), which went 22-2 (.917) from 1999-01.
*-Starter Jordan Montgomery has 57 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 74.2 innings this season. His walks-per-nine-innings ratio (1.21) is 23rd in the nation and fifth among freshmen, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.70) is 20th nationally and third among freshmen.
*-South Carolina has allowed four runs or fewer in 18 consecutive MCWS games dating back to a 15-11 win over Miami (FL) on June 22, 2004.
*-Christian Walker was retired on batter's inference in the first inning. It was the second time batter's interference has been called in the 2012 MCWS and the second time between South Carolina and Arkansas. In the contest on Monday, Arkansas's Bo Bigham became the first player called out on batter's interference at the MCWS since June 14, 2000 (Brian Barre, Southern California).
*-Walker’s two-hit game gives him 25 for his MCWS career, moving him into second place all-time. Only Dustin Ackley of North Carolina (28 from 2007-09) has tallied more hits at the Men’s College World Series.
*-Walker also moved into a tie for 10th all-time in South Carolina history with 245 career hits. Walker is tied with Hank Small (1972-75).
*-After a 1-for-4 game against Arkansas, Evan Marzilli is 12-for-33 (.364) in this season’s NCAA Tournament. Marzilli hit .279 during the regular season this year.
*-Chase Vergason is 9-for-24 (.375) in the 2012 NCAA Tournament with seven RBI (eight games). Vergason had just five RBI in 43 regular-season games this year.
*-Grayson Greiner has now thrown out 18 of 40 attempted base-stealers this season (45.0 percent).
*-In two games on Thursday, the South Carolina starters (Michael Roth and Jordan Montgomery) threw a combined 17 innings, allowing one run on five hits and one walk.
*-Matt Price closed the game with a 0.46 career ERA in the NCAA Tournament, during which he has struck out 51 and allowed just 25 hits in 39.0 innings (also 4-0 record, 11 saves). All four wins have come in the MCWS, tying him for the all-time record in that category.
*-Price became the all-time leader in games finished at the MCWS as he closed his 10th game.
*-Price earned his fourth save at the MCWS, moving him into a tie for third in MCWS history with Jim Newling (Wichita State, 1988-89), Jack Krawczyk (Southern California, 1995-98) and Jeff Bruksch (Stanford, 2000-01).
*-In the MCWS, Price has allowed just one run in 21.2 innings for a 0.42 career ERA that ranks fifth all-time (minimum 20.0 IP). He has punched out 31 in those games and has an active 15.2-inning scoreless streak at the MCWS.
*-With 11 appearances in the MCWS, Price moved into a tie for second place all-time at the MCWS with Rob Wooten (North Carolina, 2007-08).
*-South Carolina became the first team to allow five hits or less in two-game span at a single MCWS since 1964, when Missouri held Minnesota to one hit on June 15 and then Maine to two hits on June 17.
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