June 1, 2014

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Crowe Fires Gem to Keep Gamecocks Alive

By John Whittle

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com



COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina used a four-run fourth inning and a dominant performance on the mound from freshman Wil Crowe to stave off elimination with a 9-0 victory over Campbell in the Columbia Regional on Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks (44-17) will take on Maryland on Sunday night at 7 p.m. needing a win to extend the Regional to a seventh game.


Crowe pitched the best game of his young career to knock off the Fighting Camels (41-21), who advanced to Sunday’s game after defeating Old Dominion the day before in the school’s first NCAA Tournament win in program history.


Crowe threw his first career complete-game shutout allowing just four hits without giving up a walk. He struck out four and threw just 101 pitches to move his record to 8-3 on the season.


“It was an incredible performance by Wil and no doubt the story of this game,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “He was as efficient since he’s been here with his command. He was in total control out there and a masterful performance by him.”


The right-hander didn’t allow a base runner in five of nine innings and allowed multiple runners in an inning just twice.


“I was hoping the atmosphere as a freshman would be a little overwhelming to him but he was in command,” Campbell coach Greg Goff said. “I have a lot of respect for Wil and how he handled himself today. He was able to maintain his velocity and to me, that was the biggest point. My hat’s off to him and he’s got a bright future for sure.”


The Gamecocks were able to put up a four-spot in the fourth inning to give themselves a comfortable lead against the light-hitting Camels, who finished fourth in the Columbia Regional in batting average at .160 in three games.


Juniors Connor Bright and Tanner English had RBI singles with sophomore Max Schrock knocking a two-RBI double hit off of Campbell right fielder Clayton Brown’s glove on his diving attempt towards the line. That hit gave South Carolina a 5-0 lead, which also included an RBI single by Joey Pankake in the third inning.


“It was good to see us bunch some hits together in the fourth with some really good at-bats,” Holbrook said. “I felt like the big hit was when the ball dropped for Max. It was a big play in the game because it got us some breathing room.”


Campbell had its best offensive opportunity in the sixth inning with two singles to begin the frame with the heart of the order coming up. Crowe, however, was able to get team-leading home run hitter Matt Nadolski to pop out and cleanup hitter Matt Parrish to ground into an inning-ending double play.


“I knew that we needed a good outing,” Crowe said. “I knew I needed to go deep in the game. If we win, we have a game tonight. I knew if I could keep my pitch count down, I’d help my team out for later.”


After registering only two base runners in the next four innings, South Carolina blew the game wide open in the ninth inning. Five straight singles, and six in the inning, plated four runs to net the final margin of victory.


Crowe’s previous high for innings on the season was eight, which came the fourth week of the season against Brown. It was also the last time he didn’t allow a run.


There was a 12-minute, 30-second delay in the bottom of the first inning as the umpires left the field to discuss a ruling. Pankake was called for what was termed by an NCAA official as “backswing interference” against the Campbell catcher. Sophomore Max Schrock, who was attempting a steal but went back to first on the throw, was given first base and Pankake was allowed to continue hitting with the same count.


The umpires correctly applied Rule 6, Section 2 (d.2) stating that if the catcher is in the act of making a throw and the hitter’s follow through unintentionally impedes the catcher in the act of throwing, time is called and the runners return (unless the catcher’s initial throw retires the runner).


South Carolina will face Maryland on Sunday night at 7 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN3.