CLEMSON – Behind the best performance of sophomore left-hander Jordan Montgomery’s career and Shon Carson’s timely speed, South Carolina beat Clemson 6-0 on Friday night in the first game of their traveling series. The Gamecocks are now 19-7 against the Tigers since the beginning of the 2007 season.
Montgomery threw eight innings and allowed three hits while walking two and striking out a career-best nine. Seventy-four of his 113 pitches were strikes.
His previous career high for strikeouts was eight, last season in 4 2/3 innings against Furman in Greenville. That was his third career start, before he blossomed into the ace he now is.
USC got on the board in the fifth, with one run that scored in dramatic fashion. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, USC coach Chad Holbrook pinch ran for Brison Celek at second base with Carson – an obvious but important substitution.
The runners advanced to second and third on a TJ Costen sacrifice bunt, setting up the most important moment so far in Carson’s USC career.
This is his second school year with the Gamecocks, and his first season with baseball. He also plays running back for the football team, and his contributions in that sport comprise two games played in 2011, when he had three carries for nine yards. He missed the rest of that season with a knee injury and all of 2012 with wrist injury.
Carson had played in three of USC’s first seven baseball games before Friday, and had one plate appearance. Even if he does nothing significant for the rest of the season, USC fans will remember him for what happened in the fifth, before the Gamecocks got to Clemson starter Daniel Gossett and the Tigers’ bullpen for three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth.
In the fifth, when Gossett and Montgomery had matched each other’s mastery, a run was gold. USC got it on textbook base-running by Carson.
The batter after Costen, Tanner English, grounded to shortstop Tyler Krieger, who looked toward Carson, holding him near third base. When Krieger threw to first, Carson sprinted home, slid head first and barely beat the throw from first baseman Jon McGibbon. It was the only run USC ended up needing.
The second game of the series is Saturday at 2 p.m. at Greenville’s Fluor Field. The series finale is Sunday at 3 p.m. at USC. Saturday’s pitching matchup is right-hander Colby Holmes for USC and righty Clate Schmidt for the Tigers.
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