The South Carolina Gamecocks survived their second elimination game of the day and kept their national title hopes alive with a 2-0 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The Gamecocks (48-18) and Razorbacks (46-21) will meet again on Friday at 9 p.m. ET with the winner advancing to the championship series.
For the second straight game, the Gamecocks rode the stellar pitching of a lefthanded starter. In Thursday's first game, it was senior Michael Roth who twirled a complete game two-hitter in a 4-1 win over Kent State. In the nightcap, it was freshman southpaw Jordan Montgomery who was just as impressive in front of an announced attendance of 23,593. Montgomery, a 6-3, 215-pounder from Sumter, S.C., surrendered just three singles and a walk while fanning six over 8.0 scoreless innings. He threw 89 pitches, 56 for strikes. Matt Price fanned two in working around a one-out walk in the ninth for the save, his 13th of the season.
For the first time in four games at the College World Series, the Gamecocks scored the game's first run. Erik Payne led off the Carolina second inning with a double down the leftfield line and Tanner English followed with another two-base hit to left, putting the Gamecocks on top 1-0. English moved to third on Grayson Greiner's groundout, then scored on Chase Vergason's RBI single to center. Vergason, who finished the regular season with just five RBI, has collected eight in the postseason.
That was all the runs Montgomery (6-1) would need. He retired 12 consecutive batters during one stretch after allowing a first inning single to Joe Serrano. The streak ended with two out in the bottom of the fifth when Montgomery hit Bo Bigham with a pitch. Derrick Bleeker followed with a single to left, but English gunned down Bigham at third for the final out of the inning. Bigham was the only Razorback to reach second base in the contest.
The Gamecocks had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the sixth but ran themselves out of the inning. With one out, LB Dantzler reached on an error and moved to second on a passed ball. Adam Matthews stroked a single to center, but Dantzler stopped at third, even as the ball was misplayed in the outfield. With runners at the corners, Payne tapped back to the mound and Dantzler was tagged out at the plate on a fielder's choice. English lined hard to short to end the scoring threat.
In both the sixth and eighth innings, Arkansas got the lead off man on base, but both times Carolina came up with a double play to quickly end the uprising.
Arkansas starter Randall Fant (2-3) was tagged with the loss after lasting just 1.1 innings in which he allowed four hits and a walk to the nine batters he faced. Brandon Moore kept the Razorbacks in the contest with 5.2 shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and one walk with one strikeout.
The Gamecocks finished the night with eight hits and left eight runners on base. Christian Walker and Vergason led the way with two hits apiece.
ESPN will carry Friday night's deciding contest with the winner facing Arizona in the championship series that begins Sunday. Arizona went through its bracket undefeated, eliminating Florida State on Thursday afternoon.