CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Jordan Montgomery twirled a four-hit shutout and the South
Carolina offense parlayed eight hits, nine walks and five stolen bases into
eight runs, as the Gamecocks cruised to an 8-0 win over North Carolina in Game 2
of the best-of-3 Super Regional Series at Boshamer Stadium on Sunday
Montgomery (6-1) was spectacular all day as he tossed the first complete game of his career, walking one while fanning three. Despite three fielding errors by the Gamecock infielders, only four Tar Heel runners advanced as far as second base and none reached third. He threw 121 pitches while quieting a record attendance crowd of 4,365.
With the win, the Gamecocks improved to 43-19 on the season while top-seeded North Carolina dropped to 56-10.
Montgomery, a sophomore lefthander, has been outstanding in his four starts over two seasons in the NCAA Tournament for the Garnet & Black. He is 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA, surrendering just two runs on 15 hits over 30.2 innings. He has allowed just three walks while fanning 26 batters in posting wins over Clemson and Arkansas in 2012 and Liberty and North Carolina in 2013.
The Gamecocks got all the runs they would need when they sent nine batters to the plate in a five-run second inning. Max Schrock led off the frame with a double down the first-base line and advanced to third on TJ Costen's ground out. After Kyle Martin coaxed a walk on a 10-pitch at-bat, Tanner English pushed a bunt single to first, scoring Schrock with the game's first run. After Graham Saiko's flyout advanced Martin to third, English stole second. Chase Vergason walked to load the bases. Joey Pankake delivered a key two-out, two-run double just inside the left field line, putting the Gamecocks on top 3-0. LB Dantzler capped the uprising with a two-run single to right, extending the lead to five and sending Tar Heel starter Hobbs Johnson to an early shower. Johnson (4-1) was tagged with the loss, his first in five decisions this season.
The Gamecocks extended their lead in the fourth without the benefit of a hit. North Carolina right-hander Reilly Hovis walked Saiko and Vergason to open the inning. Both runners advanced on Pankake's chopper in front of the plate. Dantzler was walked intentionally, then Greiner walked, forcing in Saiko with the Gamecocks' sixth run. Taylore Cherry replaced Hovis and worked out of the bases loaded jam, getting an infield pop out and a strikeout, to avoid any further damage.
South Carolina used its speed to add a pair of runs in the fifth. English singled to deep short with one out and promptly stole second. After Saiko walked, both runners advanced on a double steal, giving English a career-high three stolen bases on the day. He entered the game with just six stolen bases on the season. Vergason hit a deep sacrifice fly to right, scoring English and sending Saiko to third. Third baseman Colin Moran was unable to handle Pankake's bouncer for an error, scoring Saiko and putting the Gamecocks comfortably ahead 8-0.
That was more than enough for Montgomery, who was aided by a tremendous diving catch by English in center field, robbing Skye Bolt of extra bases leading off the ninth inning. Sunday's shutout marked the first time North Carolina has been shut out in 96 straight games.
The rubber game of the series will be played Monday. Game time and television network will be determined Sunday evening. The Gamecocks are expected to send freshman left-hander Jack Wynkoop (7-3, 2.92 ERA) to the hill. He will be opposed by Tar Heel right-hander Benton Moss (8-1, 3.78 ERA). The winner will advance to the College World Series, which will begin Saturday, June 15, in Omaha, Neb.
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