The Daily Gamecock

Tyler Webb, Jordan Montgomery returning to full health for pitching staff

USC allows just 9 runs in 3 games against Wildcats over weekend

After sustaining a number of injuries to his pitching staff throughout the season, coach Chad Holbrook feels his South Carolina rotation is finally getting healthy at this crucial point in the 2013 campaign.

“Maybe we’re getting there as far as health is concerned,” Holbrook said. “Hopefully we’re getting healthy and we’re getting a little bit set in our lineup and hopefully that’ll result in better play.”

Leading up to No. 14 South Carolina’s sweep of No. 17 Kentucky over the weekend, it was uncertain whether senior closer Tyler Webb would participate in the series because of soreness in his elbow. Despite the injury, Webb appeared in two games this weekend and insisted the joint felt as good as ever.

“He wants the ball, and when he wants the ball this coach wants to give it to him,” Holbrook said. “He’s been incredible all year.”

Webb was credited with the win in the 11-inning marathon that was the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, striking out four batters in three scoreless innings of work. The lefty closed out Sunday’s game as well, collecting two more strikeouts in just one inning en route to his 12th save of the year.

Sophomore Jordan Montgomery, the starting pitcher for that second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, also appeared to be in rejuvenated form for the first time since sustaining an injury in March.

“I felt great out there (Saturday), big difference from last week,” Montgomery said. “I’m just trying to get better each week and get back where I was.”

In his two previous outings back from the injury, Montgomery never pitched more than four innings and only struck out two batters in each appearance. In Saturday’s start, the lefty threw 103 pitches in 5.2 innings of work and recorded seven strikeouts on the day.

“I think he’s getting close,” Holbrook said. “For us to throw him over 100 pitches, that should tell you too that we think he’s about 100 percent ready to go.”

Montgomery began the season as the ace of the USC pitching staff and amassed a 2-0 record before going down with the injury to his throwing arm.

Holbrook will look for both Montgomery and Webb to fit into a more consistent pitching rotation that he hopes to establish with his team’s clean bill of health.

Another integral member of Holbrook’s ideal staff appears to be senior reliever Adam Westmoreland, who has earned a consistent role as Webb’s setup man with his impressive play throughout the season.

“(Westmoreland and Webb) are two really good guys at the end of the game,” Holbrook said. “And if we can get starting pitching that gets us to the 7th inning we can use those two guys a lot.”

Westmoreland pitched in relief in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, striking out two batters in each outing and earning his third save of the year in game one.

While in recent contests South Carolina has leaned heavily on its offensive production in order to win games, Holbrook’s endorsement of Webb after the win Saturday shows just how much the coach thinks his team will need reliable pitching to achieve the goals they have set for themselves this season.

“Tyler’s been an All-American this year,” Holbrook said. “I don’t like to give MVP awards after 40 games because a lot of things can change, but he’s been our guy.”


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