South Carolina extends shutout streak to 51 innings
Behind a few dominant pitching performances, the South Carolina baseball team completed a three-game sweep of Eastern Kentucky in which the Gamecocks allowed no runs across the entire weekend.
The No. 5 Gamecocks are in the midst of a streak that has lasted 51 innings thus far without giving up a run. It was not since 1972 that South Carolina had four consecutive shutout wins, but Sunday made it the first time in school history that it posted five in a row.
Coach Chad Holbrook said the team has not really talked about the streak much and has tried to do its best to treat the streak like business as usual.
“It’s special how our pitchers are throwing,” he said. “We try to be shortsighted with the way we approach things around here. They are doing an incredible job of that. They really pitched their tails off, especially with runners in scoring position.”
Pitching has been the biggest reason why the Gamecocks are off to a dominant 7-0 start. Freshman Wil Crowe capped off the series in Sunday’s 6-0 victory, going 6.1 innings and striking out five while only allowing four hits and one walk.
Eastern Kentucky came close to breaking South Carolina’s scoreless streak in both the eighth and ninth innings. With one out and runners on first and third in the eighth, Gamecock junior reliever Cody Mincey came on to strike out two batters to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth frame Sunday, the Colonels had the bases loaded with no outs. Sophomore reliever Vince Fiori and junior closer Joel Seddon combined to finish off the game without allowing any runs.
“It’s awesome; we have a great staff,” Crowe said. “We’re deep. We have seven guys that can go out there at any time. I feel like we’re real strong and real deep in the pen, so we don’t have to worry about much.”
Holbrook did mention he wants the offense to improve, as the Gamecocks only managed 12 runs in the three games. Sunday was the most productive day of the series for South Carolina, tallying 12 hits to help earn its six runs.
Junior right fielder Connor Bright led the Gamecock bats on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with two RBI to extend his current hitting streak to seven games.
First baseman Kyle Martin came into the Eastern Kentucky series with a .692 batting average and helped spark a 4-0 South Carolina victory on Friday with a solo home run, his second of the season.
The junior finally cooled off on Saturday, going hitless in South Carolina’s 2-0 win over the Colonels, but went 2-for-5 on Sunday to give him a .500 average for the season thus far.
Junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery got the win on Friday to move him to 2-0 on the year. He threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just five hits and two walks while striking out four batters. Dating back to last season, Montgomery has not allowed a run in 33.2 straight innings.
On Saturday, sophomore lefty Jack Wynkoop had a tremendous day, going 7.1 innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts while giving up just three hits and one walk.
“I think that’s best I’ve seen Jack Wynkoop throw since he’s been here,” Holbrook said after Saturday’s game.
Seddon came on in the ninth inning Saturday to earn his first save of the season.
Junior catcher Grayson Greiner drove in the only runs of Saturday’s game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning. After the game, Wynkoop was happy to be part of the scoreless inning streak that was at 42 innings at that point before reaching its current mark at 51.
“We take pride in what we do on the mound and how we go about our business,” Wynkoop said. “So that’s a pretty cool stat.”