Pitching and defense are going to be telling factors in this weekend’s series between USC and Clemson. Friday night in the opener at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the Gamecocks got plenty of both and the Tigers did not in a 2-0 USC victory. The loss snaps a five game Clemson winning streak and a 92 game stretch of scoring at least one run.
Both Gamecock runs were unearned in the sixth. Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson misplayed a ground ball to open the inning. Two outs later and with runners on the corners, rightfielder KJ Bryant couldn’t handle a dying fly ball off the bat of Madison Stokes and both runs scored on the error. It was a play Clemson coach Monte Lee felt Bryant should have made.
The mistakes overrode a fine pitching performance by Charlie Barnes who allowed just 3 hits and struck out seven in 7.1 innings.
Gamecock starter and winner Clarke Schmidt didn’t have his best stuff evidenced by seven walks, but he gave up only four hits. His defense bailed him out with 3 double plays and he came up with enough big pitches to strand 7 Tigers in his 5.2 innings of work. In all, Clemson left 11 runners on base.
Josh Reagan came on in the sixth after Schmidt yielded a double and allowed just one baserunner thru the 8th. Closer Tyler Johnson allowed a one out walk in the 9th. With two outs, Reed Rohlman hit a sinking liner to left center that TJ Hopkins chased down and caught on a dive for the final out.
Schmidt improved to 2-0 and Johnson earned his fourth save. Barnes fell to 0-1 with the loss. Game two of the series will be Saturday afternoon at Fluor Field in Greenville. The Gamecocks are now 7-3, the Tigers 6-3.
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