USC is moving on to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row after a 4-3 win over Clemson Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks extended their record NCAA Tournament winning streak to 19 games and their postseason winning streak over the Tigers to six games by jumping out in front early and then riding the pitching of Jordan Montgomery and Tyler Webb.
Nine of USC’s wins in their record run have been by one run. Both of their wins over Clemson in the regional were by one run. Four of the five meetings between the Gamecocks and Tigers this season were decided by one run.
USC has won 22 straight postseason home games including all 11 at Carolina Stadium.
AUDIO: USC press conference [30:37]
AUDIO: Clemson press conference [19:55]
The Gamecocks chased Clemson starter David Haselden in the top of the first scoring three runs. Joey Pankake hit the first pitch of the game off the left centerfield fence for a triple. He scored on Evan Marzilli’s sacrifice fly to left just getting in under the tag of Spencer Kieboom. Leggett argued the call with homeplate umpire Steve Mattingly but to no avail.
Christian Waker drew a walk and went to third on LB Dantzler’s hard grounder to first. Jon McGibbon fielded the ball cleanly and touched first to get Dantzler, but his throw hit Walker for an error allowing Walker to reach third.
Adam Matthews singled hard to left to score Walker, and he scored all the way from first on a double off the wall in left by Connor Bright. That was all for Haselden as Jonathan Meyer was summoned from the pen and he got the Tigers out of the inning by getting Tanner English to ground out to second.
Both sides stranded runners at second and third in the second. After giving up a double in the second to Jon McGibbon, Montgomery proceeded to set down 11 in a row.
Meyer kept the Gamecocks off the board until the sixth. Tanner English doubled to left and took third on a throwing error by the leftfielder Jay Baum. He scored on a single to right by Chase Vergason to make it 4-0 USC.
Clemson finally broke thru against Montgomery in the sixth. Steve Wilkerson led off with a single to right and scored on a double by Thomas Brittle down the rightfield line. Richie Shaffer singled to left to put runners on the corners, and Phil Pohl scored Brittle with a ground out to third. Baum struck out to end the inning.
Montgomery pitched into the seventh. He was lifted after giving up a two out single to Brad Felder. Tyler Webb came on and got a grounder to short by Jason Stoltz to end the inning.
Meyer continued to baffle the Gamecock hitters and allowed just two singles over the final three innings.
Clemson did mount a ninth inning rally. With one out, Baum singled to center and took second on catcher indifference. After McGibbon struck out, Kieboom singled scoring Baum to make it a 4-3 game.
That brought USC pitching coach Jerry Meyers to the mound for a meeting with Webb. Evan Beal was warming in the bullpen but Meyers stuck with Webb. And it turned out to be the right move as Felder hit the first pitch to deep right field for the final out.
Montgomery earned the victory (5-1) allowing two runs and five hits over 6.2 innings. He struck out six and walked one. Webb picked up his third save with 2.1 innings of two hit relief. He allowed one run, struck out four and walked none.
Haselden took the loss (4-2) going just two-thirds of an inning. He allowed three runs on three hits and walked one. Meyer pitched the final 8.1 innings and scattered seven hits. He allowed one run, struck out four and walked two.
The Gamecocks improve to 43-17 and await the winner of the Virginia regional. That Super Regional will be played in Columbia with game dates and times to be announced Monday. Clemson finishes its season at 35-28. The 35 wins are Clemson’s fewest since 2008 and the second fewest under Jack Leggett’s tenure.
USC’s Matthews was named the regional most valuable player. He had five hits and six RBIs in his team’s three games.