Roth, Montgomery combine for special day

OMAHA, Neb. – South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner wanted a long start from Michael Roth or Jordan Montgomery to save his bullpen. Instead, both obliged.

The two starters combined to throw all but one inning of South Carolina's two wins on Thursday at the College World Series to stay alive and force a one-game bracket final on Friday.

Roth and Montgomery made it clear at the beginning of both starts that they were dialed in. With South Carolina facing elimination in the both games, it was a senior and freshman left-hander that picked up the team.

While throwing 17 of the 18 innings the Gamecocks played, Roth and Montgomery combined to allow two of the 53 batters faced to reach second base. The first one came when Roth allowed a leadoff single to Kent State first baseman George Roberts in the second inning.

After advancing to second on a ground out, Roberts scored on an RBI single by Sawyer Polen to give the Golden Flashes their only run and the only run the Gamecocks would allow in either game.

Roth retired the next 22 hitters he faced to end the game.

The only hitter Montgomery allowed to reach second base was in the fifth inning. After hitting Bo Bigham with a two-out pitch, Derrick Bleeker lined a single to left field. Bigham was only at second base long enough to touch the bag before left fielder Tanner English threw him out at third base to end the inning.

"For the second time today, we got an absolute wonderful game out of our lefties," Ray Tanner said after the game. "Jordan followed up what Michael did earlier today and was outstanding. He's had some good games for us this year, and this was the best one."

Both pitchers had command of the strike zone. Roth came into the game with 40 walks in 121.1 innings on the season. In Thursday afternoon's complete game, he didn't walk a hitter. Roth threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 28 (67.9%) hitters he faced. He worked into a three-ball count against just two of those hitters and had a two-ball count to ten of them.

The middle innings is where Roth cruised. From the first batter he faced in the second inning to the second batter he faced in the eighth inning, Roth didn't have a three-ball count.

Montgomery was just as efficient in the nightcap.

The freshman fired first-pitch strikes to nine of the first ten hitters he faced. He followed with a first-pitch to six of the next 15 hitters, but even when he was falling behind, Montgomery managed to fight back and get outs.

The freshman went to a three-ball count against just three of the hitters and a two- ball count to ten of the 25 total hitters he faced. He pounded the strike zone with his fastball and got them to swing over his changeup as it fell out of the zone.

After a one-out single in the first inning by Joe Serrano, who was erased trying to steal second, Montgomery was perfect until the two-out rally by Arkansas in the fifth inning when English ended it with the outfield assist.

"Pitching in front of 20,000 people, maybe plus, had me a little nervous in the bullpen," Jordan Montgomery said. "But after that first inning, and I guess the way I settled in and the way the team was playing behind me, I was just kind of staying on cruise control and just went."

He ended the outing on cruise control, too. After giving up a four-pitch walk to start the eight, Tanner took a trip to the mound to relax his freshman. Montgomery followed by getting Bigham to ground into a double play and Bleeker to ground out on the next pitch to end the inning and his outing.

"Jordan was very, very special on the mound," Tanner said.

The outcome was Roth and Montgomery facing three batters over the minimum in their 17 innings of work—and the Gamecocks live on.

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