USC centerfielder Evan Marzilli made a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Jay Baum for the final out as the Gamecocks staved off a Clemson rally for a 3-2 win in 11 innings Friday night in Game One of the Rivalry Series at Charleston’s Riley Park.
AUDIO: Ray Tanner post game interview
AUDIO: Jack Leggett post game interview
The Gamecocks held a 3-1 lead going to the bottom of the 11th and appeared to have the game in hand. But Richie Shaffer doubled off of Forrest Koumas to open the inning. With one out, Shaffer scored from second on an error by Gamecock shortstop Joey Pankake.
Dominic Attanasio struck out for the second out of the inning. Garrett Boulware then hit an apparent game ending grounder to third baseman LB Dantzler. But Dantzler, who had not committed an error this season, threw wide of first keeping Clemson’s hopes alive with runners on the corners and two outs.
That brought Baum to the plate to pinch hit for Jon McGibbon. Ray Tanner went to his bullpen for his fourth pitcher of the inning and summoned lefthander Nolan Belcher who induced the game ending sinking liner on a 2-2 pitch.
AUDIO: Evan Marzilli interview
Starting pitchers Michael Roth and Kevin Brady hooked up in a duel thru the first six innings. Brady gave up a run in the third on a pair of infield singles, the second by Christian Walker, sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt. He was lifted after six innings.
AUDIO: Kevin Brady interview
Roth pitched 7.1 innings and allowed one run in the 7th on a walk, a sacrifice, and an RBI single by Jason Stolz. He escaped a problem in the 5th as Marzilli cut down Attanasio at the plate trying to score from second on a single by Boulware.
Clemson had a major threat in the 8th loading the bases with two outs. But Forrest Koumas, who replaced Roth earlier in the inning, struck out Spencer Kieboom on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
The game remained tied 1-1 until the top of the 11th when the Gamecocks scored what turned out to be the go ahead and winning runs off freshman closer Daniel Gossett. Sean Sullivan singled home Christian Walker from second with the go ahead run, and Connor Bright delivered the insurance run with a single scoring Patrick Harrington from second.
AUDIO: Sean Sullivan interview
Harrington crashed into Tiger catcher Kieboom, who was on the third base side of home plate, and the ball rolled free. Kieboom stayed down for a few moments but left the field under his own power. Coach Jack Leggett said Kieboom may not be able to play the remainder of the series.
AUDIO: Richie Shaffer interview
Koumas earned the victory to go to 1-0 on the season. Gossett took the loss to fall to 0-1. The Gamecocks, who have won their last 18 games dating back to last season, are off to an 8-0 start on the season. Clemson falls to 4-3. All three losses have been on a Friday and by one run each.
Game two of the series will be at 2:00 Saturday in Columbia, weather permitting. The forcast calls for storms. Matt Price will start for USC and Clemson will counter with Dominic Leone.