AAAA State Championship: Byrnes Rebels at Sumter Gamecocks, Game 1


By: Will Cheatham – May 16, 2011

Diamond Prospects was on hand tonight for the premiere pitching matchup of the season in the opener of the AAAA State Championship series with the Byrnes Rebels and the Sumter Gamecocks squaring off. Daniel Gossett and Jordan Montgomery came into this game with the best pitching stats of anyone around, and both were sporting sub-0.50 ERA’s. Coming in expecting a pitching duel we got a near polar opposite out of this game.

-Caldwell, Watcher & Montgomery dominate in opening game-

In the top of the first, Montgomery set the tone for the pitchers, working quickly through the first three hitters. All three Rebel batters put a barrel on the ball, but all were right at a fielder. It was a different story for Gossett in his first inning of work. Leadoff hitter Michael Blackmon jumped on the first fastball he saw and ripped a hard line drive right at the third baseman who got a body on it, but the ball kicked to the outfield for a leadoff single. The next batter was unable to get down a successful sacrifice due to a tremendous defensive play by Gossett, leaving a runner on first for shortstop Bruce Caldwell. He sat back and hammered a ball deep into the gap and out of the park for a two-run home run.

The Gamecocks got on the board again in the second inning in the same fashion with a solo shot coming from the bat of freshman third baseman Phillip Watcher. Watcher also made a great play on a ball in the top half of the inning, fielding a sharply-hit ball and making a strong throw to second to get the lead runner. The Rebels were able to get a guy on base in the top half with a single from Zach Bridgeman, but nothing came of it.

Meanwhile, Montgomery was able to continue to cruise through the next few innings.

Sumter continued to keep the bats going in the third inning. After a leadoff walk, the Gamecocks put together back-to-back singles from Caldwell and Will Smith. Andrew Reardon then rolled over on a ball and hit a slow roller to first that was mishandled on the tough play, plating the runner from third and allowing Reardon to reach safely, keeping the bases loaded. Phillip Watcher continued to have a big day as he singled on a hard ground ball up the middle to drive in two more runs in the inning. This was the final inning of work for Gossett as Reed Rohlman took over on the mound, but was unable to slow down the Gamecocks. In the fourth inning the Gamecocks combined to plate five more runs on six more hits highlighted by another long two-run home run from Caldwell.

While this game was not what we were expecting to see it really did show how anyone can win at anytime, even in fancy fashion. Coming into this game we had two of the best arms in SC matching up against each other, but the Gamecocks were able to get the best of Gossett and they were overly prepared for his fastball.

While Sumter made a statement with this opening game, the series is not over yet. Byrnes is in this position for a reason and don’t expect them to just roll over. This could shape out to be one of the best series in years. In the end tonight Montgomery was the dominant arm, throwing five complete giving up just one hit, striking out four, and walking no one.

Final: Sumter 11 Byrnes 0, 5 innings; Gametime: 1 hour 6 minutes; WP: Jordan Montgomery  LP: Daniel Gossett  HR: Bruce Caldwell 2 (S), Phillip Watcher (S)

Additional Info: To view article from Spartanburg Herald-Journal, click here.

-Prospect Information: Sumter Gamecocks-

montgomeryjordan-balance11.jpgJordan Montgomery-Senior, USC signee, LHP: There is not much else we can say about this young man other than tonight he proved his worth and why he is the top lefthander in SC as well as a leading candidate for the Diamond King award. He threw five complete innings giving up just one hit to a powerful Rebels lineup. He struck out four and walked none. This puts his strikeout-to-walk ratio at 104/11. That is a statistic that speaks for itself. His fastball ranged from 85-87 tonight with a plus breaking ball that sat 72 for most of the night. The main reason for his success that I have seen throughout this year is his ability to locate in the strike zone. For all you young pitchers out there, this really goes to show you why throwing quality strikes is so important when it comes to winning ballgames. He doesn’t allow free bases and really pitched a fantastic game tonight.

caldwellb-stance09.jpgBruce Caldwell-Senior, SMC signee, INF/RHP: This kid can flat out hit. Great batspeed and raw power from gap-to-gap. You could tell that in all of his at-bats tonight he was really locked in on Gossett and was determined not to let him beat him. In his second at-bat when he singled, he was caught out front on a change up, but was able to get the bat head out front and hit a hard ground ball through the hole between second and first. Then he came through again in his final at-bat with a blast that made the rightfielder freeze in his tracks and just look up into the air as the ball banged off of the light pole. He has smooth actions at short and a strong arm to go with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to see him on the mound some in this series, but tonight it was all about the potent bat.

watcher_jacob.jpgWatcher Brothers-Freshmen, INF/RHP: I wanted to give you some information on both of these freshman starters for the Gamecocks. Tonight Phillip had the big game going 3-for-3 with a big home run and bases-loaded single, but brother Jacob has also got the tools to be a great player. Philliwatcher_phillip.jpgp made two outstanding plays at third base and has the best arm for a freshman that I personally have seen this year on the infield. Both are hitting well over .300 in the playoffs this year, and it goes without saying when you have two freshman starting on the infield and hitting for a team playing for a title that they are special. They both also project to be top arms on the mound for the Gamecocks in the years to come. These are two guys that you are going to see much more from in the years to come. You might also be able to dig through some old JrDP recaps to find a game with both of them written up as well.

-Prospect Information: Byrnes Rebels-

Daniel Gossett-Senior, Clemson signee, RHP: Fellow DP scout Barry Mabry has all the fun this year getting to cover Gossett in the Upstate so I was glad to finally see the Clemson signee down in the Midlands. gossettd-balance10.jpgThere was a lot of hype coming into this game, and while he did take the loss tonight, you can still see that this kid can flat out pitch. The breaking ball is devastating to hitters, and while the Gamecocks put some good swings on the ball tonight there were some awful hacks as well. The fastball got up to 95 and for the most part worked from 90-92. He has such a quick and powerful release that the ball just jumps on the hitters and when you have such plus breaking pitches with the changeup and the slider to go with it, it makes for a tough night as a hitter. Tonight we tip our cap to the Gamecocks for winning the battle, but this will not be the last your hear or see from this very good right-handed arm.

Notables: Steven Duggar (Junior), Reed Rohlman (Sophomore)