Just one outing after being ripped to the tune of four earned runs over three and 2/3 innings by Mississippi State, junior Jordan Montgomery bounced back in a big way, earning a win in a 5-2 victory over Campbell Friday night.
Montgomery was everything South Carolina needed him to be Friday, pitching into the ninth inning and tying a season high in strikeouts with nine. He picked up his fifth NCAA Tournament win, pushing his career record to 5-0 in such games. His ERA in those games is a microscopic 0.93.
“My mindset going into postseason games, regular season games, just any game I can is just: win,” Montgomery said. “Compete, win, battle. I kind of take every at bat as a batter trying to be better than me. I try to be better than him every time.”
Not without help from the offense, the Gamecocks spotted Montgomery three early runs to give the South Carolina ace a comfortable lead.
Junior Kyle Martin initiated the scoring, lacing a bases-loaded single into right field, which scored two runs. After junior Grayson Greiner skied a pitch into shallow center field, DC Arendas sent a sacrifice fly into center to score junior Joey Pankake.
The three runs scored in the first inning by South Carolina would be the first and last given up by Campbell starter Heath Bowers. The Gamecocks had plenty of opportunities to push across insurance runs—they tallied 11 hits on the night—but Bowers held the team at bay until his eventual exit from the game.
Big South Tournament MVP and third-team Louisville Slugger All-American Ryan Thompson entered the game to try to maintain the slim Gamecock advantage, but ended up struggling against the potent South Carolina offense. He gave up two earned runs on two hits, plus three walks all in an inning and 1/3 of relief work.
The Fighting Camels managed a couple singles up the middle in the top of the first inning against Montgomery. The seasoned veteran Montgomery pitched around the hits, and did not surrender another hit until a fourth inning home run.
After the home run, Montgomery went on to retire the next 10 Campbell batters. In all, Montgomery gave up only five hits on the night.
“The reason why we feel so comfortable with [Montgomery], is that Jordan’s not fazed by too much,” head coach Chad Holbrook said. “He’s been exceptional in the postseason, but he’s been pretty darn good in the regular season, too.”
Both sophomore Max Schrock and junior Connor Bright were in the lineup after each missing significant time due to injury earlier this year. Combined, the duo went 4-9 with one run scored. Schrock’s three-hit game was matched by teammate Marcus Mooney, who had three of his own. Mooney also tacked on one run scored as well as two RBIs.
In a tournament where Holbrook knew the importance of winning early, he said the team has the upmost confidence in Montgomery.
“In a tight moment, in a tight game, when I know there might be some tension, we feel very, very comfortable giving the ball to Jordan Montgomery,” Holbrook said. “And he was outstanding tonight. ”
South Carolina will face Maryland tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks will be the road team against the Terrapins. Campbell is slated to square off against Old Dominion at 1 p.m.