Based on how well he pitched, Jordan Montgomery clearly covets the role of being a Friday night starter in the SEC.
In his final warmup before Opening Day, Montgomery, a junior southpaw from Sumter, was dominant in Friday afternoon's scrimmage at Carolina Stadium, retiring 11 of the 12 batters he faced during his 3.2 inning stint before leaving when he reached his pre-determined pitch count.
Montgomery fanned eight batters, including five of the first six hitters he faced, and did not allow a single ball to reach the outfield. His 11 outs came via strikeout (8) and three groundouts. The lone hit he allowed was an infield single to short by freshman Zack Madden leading off the top of the third inning.
Impressive freshman right-hander Wil Crowe matched Montgomery pitch-for-pitch for three innings, setting down nine of the first 10 batters he faced, two by strikeout.
With the scrimmage scoreless, Max Schrock doubled into the right-center gap off Crowe lead off the bottom of the fourth, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a RBI single by Joey Pankake (2-for-4).
Later in the inning, a pair of two-out singles by Grayson Greiner and Taylor Widener went for naught when the inning ended on a forceout.
The visitors evened the score at 1-1 against Widener in the top of the fifth on a fielder's choice grounder by Jordan Gore. Weber Pike opened the frame with a double to right and moved to third on a single by Matt Williams.
The winning run scored in the bottom of the eighth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center by Grayson Greiner. The play scored Schrock, who had walked, moved to second on a single and to third on a forceout (5-2) at the plate.
The visitors threatened in the eighth with a two-out double by Madden (2-for-3), a good-looking freshman from Charleston and Bishop England High School. But Jae Roberts fanned for the final out.
The best chance for the visitors to knot the score came in the top of the ninth, but a crazy play kept them off the scoreboard.
Patrick Harrington walked to start the inning against reliever Cody Mincey, a JUCO transfer from Spartanburg Methodist College. Logan Koch sacrificed him to second and Tanner English's single moved him to third.
Harrington raced for home when D.C. Arendas fouled out to short, but reversed course when Mooney fired a missile home. With nobody covering third base, he was able to slide back safely.
However, moments later, Mincey noticed Harrington had strayed too far off third base with Kyle Martin at the plate (thus, the third baseman was shifted over to the shortstop position and not covering the bag) and ran straight at Harrington.
Mincey tagged Harrington before he was able to dive headfirst back into the third base bag for the final out in the inning.
Greiner, who sat out parts of the first two weekends of scrimmages due to an injury, showed off his powerful throwing arm by gunning down Gore trying to steal second in the top of the fifth.
Another outstanding defensive play was turned in by left-fielder Elliott Caldwell, who doubled up Matt Williams at first after catching a hit-and-run liner in left off the bat of Gore in the top of the eighth.
Williams found himself standing on second base when the ball was caught by Caldwell, who fired across the field to first base for the out.
Widener, a freshman right-hander from South Aiken that could serve multiple roles in 2014, settled down after allowing the visiting team's only run to retire seven of the final eight batters he faced. He singled, walked and hurled 3.1 innings in a busy afternoon.
Three home team pitchers - Montgomery, Widener and Mincey - combined for 10 strikeouts and two walks while allowing six hits.
Schrock scored both runs for the home team.
USC will scrimmage again on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Carolina Stadium.
VISITOR: Tanner English (8), D.C. Arendas (6), Kyle Martin (3), Weber Pike (DH), Matt Williams (5), Jordan Gore (9), Zack Madden (7), Jae Roberts (9), Patrick Harrington (DH), Logan Koch (2).
HOME: Marcus Mooney (6), Max Schrock (4), Joey Pankake (5), Connor Bright (3), Grayson Greiner (2), Taylor Widener (DH), Elliott Caldwell (7), Gene Cone (8), Brock Maxwell (9).
VISITORS: Wil Crowe (1-4), Kyle Martin (4-7), Hunter Privette (7-8), Joel Seddon (8-9).
HOME: Jordan Montgomery (1-4), Taylor Widener (4-7), Cody Mincey (8-9).