Ten games into season, pitching continues to be South Carolina’s strength

COLUMBIA – Coming off another series win over Clemson, South Carolina’s baseball team will get its younger players some work in this week’s home midweek games against Ball State, at 7 p.m. Tuesday and 4 p.m. Wednesday.

USC (8-2) then hosts Rider in a weekend series and welcomes South Carolina-Upstate and Davidson to Columbia next Tuesday and Wednesday, before opening Southeastern Conference play March 15 at Missouri.

USC has now played four three-game traveling series with Clemson since the format debuted in 2010. USC has won three. Clemson won in 2010, but lost twice to USC in the College World Series that year, giving the Gamecocks the season series.

Since Clemson last won a season series over USC, three games to one in 2006, the Gamecocks have won six of the teams’ season series, and they tied once, in 2009.

USC is now 20-8 against Clemson since the start of the 2007 season and 8-3 since the start of 2011. Sunday’s 8-0 USC home win was the series’ largest margin of victory since Clemson won 19-6 in Columbia in 2010, to clinch that regular season series. The Tigers have lost five straight games in Columbia since then.

Pitching continues to be USC’s strength, as the Gamecocks bookended the Clemson series with gems by left-handers Jordan Montgomery and Nolan Belcher.

Montgomery, a sophomore, led USC to a 6-0 win Friday night in Clemson with the best game of his career: eight innings, three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts. Belcher, a fifth-year senior, had the best game of his career Sunday: a complete game three-hitter with no walks and seven strikeouts.

In 88 innings this season, USC has allowed just 64 hits, while striking out 86 and walking 23. The Gamecocks’ team earned-run average is 2.25, and teams are hitting .200 against them.

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