Jordan Montgomery keeps doing the same thing to opponents again and again. He doesn’t allow them to cross home plate.
South Carolina’s junior left-hander threw seven more shutout innings Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium in a 4-0 win against Eastern Kentucky. That extends his streak to 332/3 shutout innings dating back to the third inning of last season’s SEC tournament game against Vanderbilt.
“I’m going out there and trying to throw up zeroes in every inning. Trying to keep that streak alive is a little more incentive to throw up zeroes,” Montgomery said.
After throwing 52/3 scoreless innings against Vanderbilt, he added seven against Liberty and nine against North Carolina last season. To begin this season, he tossed five against Bucknell before throwing seven against the Colonels (1-4).
“Every game, I try to control the plate,” Montgomery said. “That’s something I guess I’m kind of known for, throwing in and out and trying to keep the batters off-balance a little bit. I throw the changeup every now and then to let them know it’s there.”
With all of his pitches working, the 6-foot-5 Montgomery (2-0) gave up five hits and two walks while striking out four hitters. He got all the run support he needed from Kyle Martin’s solo home run off EKU starter Brent Cobb (1-1) in the second inning.
“I haven’t changed my approach. I’m still going up there and doing the same thing every time, no matter whether I get out or hit one hard. That’s what has kept me going to far,” said Martin, who’s hitting .625 with two homers and eight RBIs.
USC coach Chad Holbrook liked how Montgomery pitched out of jams in the fourth and sixth innings.
“When they got runners at third with less than two outs, he really bowed his neck and made some big-time pitches,” Holbrook said. “He’s an unflappable kid. When he gets challenged and people get out there (on base), he’s at his best. That was certainly the case today.”
In their fast start to the season, the fifth-ranked Gamecocks (5-0) have put up three consecutive shutouts and four straight errorless games.
“We pride ourselves on pitching and playing defense. That’s what we did today,” Holbrook said. “When you pitch and play defense, you have a chance to win every game.”
USC pitchers have combined to throw 33 straight scoreless innings, while their teammates have not made an error since the first game.
“We’re not going to play errorless baseball every game, but our pitchers are confident they can throw the ball over the plate and our guys are going to pick it up behind them,” Holbrook said. “Our pitchers feel like they don’t have to strike everybody out. That’s a comforting feeling. We’re a good defensive team.”
Max Schrock hit a solo homer in the third inning, and the Gamecocks added two runs in the sixth inning on Connor Bright’s RBI ground ball and Brison Celek’s RBI single. Schrock loves playing second base behind Montgomery.
“It’s fun to watch, for sure. He’s a great pitcher,” Schrock said. “He’s hitting his spots. He’s locating every single pitch. His changeup is obviously very good. He pitched very, very well.”
The teams play the second game of the series Saturday at 4 p.m. USC left-hander Jack Wynkoop will start against EKU left-hander Tanner Perkins.