It wasn’t quite the setting in Tampa when Deshaun Watson hit Hunter Renfrow with a second to play to win the football national championship in January, but winning the annual baseball series between the Tigers and USC is big, and Sunday the Tiger’s baseball version of Watson, sophomore leftfielder Seth Beer, made his own magic in an 11 inning 5-3 victory at Founders Park in Columbia.
Beer hit a two out, game tying, solo home run off Josh Reagan in the top of the ninth, and in the 11th he was at the plate with a runner on third when Gamecock pitcher Tyler Haswell uncorked a wild pitch on an intentional walk. That allowed Logan Davidson to score what would be the winning run. The Tigers added a fifth run for insurance and Alex Schnell set the Gamecocks down in order in the bottom of the inning.
The victory gives the Tigers the series win for a third straight season, and it gives the Clemson athletic program a sweep of the big three matchups with the Gamecocks for this academic year.
It was a frustrating weekend for the Gamecock baseball program which desperately wanted to deliver a victory for their fans after the failure of the football and men’s basketball teams. When Chad Holbrook and his players reflect on the series, they’ll have to swallow hard knowing they took a 5-2 lead into the seventh inning Saturday in Greenville, and were one pitch away from winning on Sunday.
The Gamecocks were done in over the weekend by questionable strategic moves and the failure of players to perform the most simple of baseball tasks, like getting a bunt down to advance runners or cleanly completing an intentional walk.
The Tigers weren’t perfect, they committed seven errors in the series, but they showed the resiliency necessary to grind out tough wins. That started in the seventh inning Saturday and continued thru the 11th inning on Sunday. Monte Lee always likes to talk about the toughness of his teams and the Tigers proved to be the tougher team this weekend.
And Beer showed why he’s the best player in the college game. He impacted the series with his bat, with his arm, with his legs and with his mere presence at the plate.
Beer won the Bob Bradley award as Clemson’s MVP for the series and TJ Hopkins won the Tom Price Award as USC’s MVP.
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