Another day, another shutout.
Fifth-ranked South Carolina’s 6-0 victory over Eastern Kentucky Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium did more than complete a series sweep.
It gave the Gamecocks a school-record fifth-straight shutout win, which broke the mark set in 1972.
Freshman right-hander Wil Crowe did his part to keep the streak going with 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and one walk while hitting two and striking out five.
Relievers Hunter Privette, Josh Reagan, Cody Mincey, Vince Fiori and Joel Seddon finished the job.
While USC coach Chad Holbrook acknowledged the streak, he stated the staff isn’t fixated on it.
“It’s special how our pitchers are throwing. I know they take pride in it, but it’s not something that’s really talked about,” Holbrook said. “We talk about the next game, the next pitch, the next inning. We try to be short-sighted with the way we approach things around here. We’re doing an incredible job of that.”
USC (7-0), which lowered its team ERA to 0.86 on the season, now has gotten 51 straight scoreless innings from its pitchers. Arizona State holds the NCAA record with 64, which also was set back in 1972. The Gamecocks’ five shutout wins have come against Bucknell, Presbyterian and EKU.
“To see what our pitchers are doing on a daily basis, the way they’re playing right now, is really awesome,” said sophomore infielder DC Arendas, whose two-run single capped a four-run third inning. “We’re hoping they’re going to keep it up, and we’re going to try to do our best to play the best defense we can behind them.”
USC’s two junior right-handers closed out the game in notable fashion. Mincey recorded two strikeouts after entering the game with one out in the eighth and runners on the corners. Seddon got the final two outs with the bases loaded in the ninth.
“I’ve got one job, and it’s to go out there and throw strikes,” Mincey said. “I’ve been doing that so I felt pretty confident.”
Holbrook also liked watching Seddon work in a high-pressure situation to end the game. He knows that’s the kind of situation Seddon is going to face often as the season progresses.
“We have a chance to be a very solid deep bullpen. I don’t think we’re going to blow anybody away. As a group, it’s formidable,” Holbrook said. “They understand that, and they’re accepting their roles. Coach (Jerry) Meyers has done an incredible job with them.”
Crowe (2-0) finally gave up his first college hit to Sean Hagen in the fourth inning, which ended a hitless streak at 9 2/3 innings over his first two collegiate starts. He hasn’t allowed a run in his 12 2/3 innings. Holbrook noted his poise and an ability to challenge hitters in key situations.“He can pitch. He’s not just trying to throw the ball by you,” he said. “As you can see, he’s pretty polished in regards to his three or four pitches above-average pitches he can throw in about any count. And he competes. Not many freshmen have it. He has it.”Crowe has enjoyed joining a staff that’s so strong.
“It’s awesome. We have a great staff. We’re deep. We have 17 guys who can all go out there at any time,” Crowe said. “No matter what, if we’re in a 5-4 game or something close, we always have guys to go to.”
The USC offense got 12 hits, led by Connor Bright’s three hits, which included two RBI singles to give him the team lead with 11. The team’s five hits in the third ended the day for EKU starter Myles Scott (0-2).
The Colonels (1-6) never got untracked at the plate with just 15 hits on the weekend.
“We knew we had a handful ahead of us. Give credit to them. They did really well,” EKU coach Jason Stein said. “What they were able to do was get their off-speed (pitches) over at any point in those games, even in tight situations. That was pretty impressive.”
Holbrook agreed completely about his record-setting staff.
“They’ve really pitched their tails off, especially with runners in scoring position. It’s been fun to watch them compete,” Holbrook said. “If they can continue that throughout the year, we’ll have a chance to win our fair share of games.”
South Carolina’s next game will be Friday at 7 p.m. against rival Clemson at Carolina Stadium.
|LF Elliott Caldwell||2||1||0||0||1||0|
|SS Marcus Mooney||1||1||1||0||1||0|
|2B Max Schrock||4||0||0||0||1||2|
|3B/LF Joey Pankake||3||1||2||1||0||0|
|1B Kyle Martin||5||2||1||0||0||1|
|RF Connor Bright||4||3||1||2||0||0|
|C Grayson Greiner||4||1||1||1||0||1|
|DH Taylor Widener||4||1||0||0||0||1|
|SS/3B DC Arendas||3||1||0||2||1||0|
|CF Tanner English||3||1||0||0||1||0|