C’lemson scored three runs over the final two frames to battle back from a 5-3 deficit in defeating USC 6-5 Sunday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in game three of the Rivalry Series. The Tigers salvaged one victory in the weekend series and snapped the Gamecocks’ 19 game winning streak dating back to last season.
AUDIO: Jack Leggett post game interview
AUDIO: Ray Tanner post game interview
USC led 5-3 going to the bottom of the 8th with their closer Forrest Koumas on the mound. But he quickly gave up the lead by walking hot hitting Richie Shaffer and then giving up a two run homer to left field by catcher Phil Pohl.
AUDIO: Phil Pohl talks about his home run
The Gamecocks had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth, but reliever Scott Firth struck out LB Dantzler and got pinch-hitter Kyle Martin on a come backer to the mound.
With a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers moved quickly. First baseman Jon McGibbon, the #9 hitter, led off with a single to right field, his third hit of the day. Thomas Brittle successfully sacrificed him to second. And second baseman Steve Wilkerson drove a 3-1 pitch to left center to drive in McGibbon with the winning run.
AUDIO: Steve Wilkerson relives his game winning hit
AUDIO: Forrest Koumas talks about one that got away
The Gamecocks took a 4-0 lead in the second on a RBI single by Adam Matthews and a three run homer by Grayson Greiner, his first career home run. All of the runs were unearned thanks to two errors in the inning.
AUDIO: Adam Matthews post game interview
AUDIO: Grayson Greiner post game interview
Clemson came back with a run in the second on a sacrified fly by Brittle, and two more in the third on Shaffer’s fourth homer of the season and an RBI single by Joe Costigan. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the inning and would leave 16 on base for the game.
AUDIO: Richie Shaffer talks about his hot weekend at the plate
USC scored its final run in the sixth on Greiner’s second home run of the game, this one also to left field. That came off Firth who replaced starter Kevin Pohle to start the inning. Firth allowed just two more hits the rest of the game.
But the Tigers needed an outstanding defensive play in the eighth to prevent USC from adding more insurance runs. The Gamecocks had runners on the corners with one out when Chase Vergason hit a hard grounder to McGibbons at first. He fired to shortstop Jason Stolz on the bag at second, and Stolz rifled a throw back to McGibbons to complete the 3-6-3 double play and keep the Gamecocks off the board.
That set the stage for the Tiger heroics in the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings.
Firth picked up the victory, his first of the season, and Koumas took the loss to fall to 1-1. Tyler Webb and Ethan Carter also pitched for the Gamecocks.
Clemson improves to 5-4 and will host Holy Cross Wednesday afternoon. USC falls to 9-1 and will take on UNC Asheville at home Wednesday night.
Shaffer was named the winner of the Bob Bradley Award as Clemson’s MVP, and Matthews earned the Tom Price Award as USC’s MVP.