Clemson knocked around USC star closer Matt Price for six runs in the bottom of the 8th to rally for a 10-5 win over the Gamecocks to even the rain delayed series at a game each. Game three will be Tuesday night at Fluor Field in Greenville. Four Tiger pitchers limited the Gamecocks to a season low five hits, and the Gamecocks committed a season high four errors. Clemson improves to 7-2 while the Gamecocks drop to 8-1.
The six earned runs are the most Price has allowed in his career. He inherited a 5-4 lead to start the 8th inning. But the Tigers batted around and battered the normally reliable Price. Jason Stolz led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second. Brad Miller then hit a chopper to shortstop Peter Mooney. Mooney never got a handle on the ball and Stolz was able to score the tieing run on the play.
Jeff Schaus then laced a double that scored Miller with the go ahead run. A couple of walks loaded the bases and Will Lamb singled home two more runs to chase Price and put the game on ice for the Tigers who had lost three straight to the Gamecocks dating back to last June’s World Series. And the loss ends USC’s 14 game winning streak dating back to Omaha.
USC took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a two out, opposite field home run by Jackie Bradley Jr. Home plate umpire Randy Harvey checked Bradley’s bat and then, after a brief discussion, handed it to Gamecock coach Ray Tanner. Clemson coach Jack Leggett also came out of his dugout to get a briefing from the umpires.
The Tigers went up 2-1 in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Schaus, who was hitting .154 at the time, ripped a double off the glove of first baseman Christian Walker down the right field line. Two runs scored, the first two earned runs allowed by Tyler Webb this season. Webb got out of further damage by enticing a ground ball to first from John Hinson.
Webb was lifted in the 4th after a lead off single and a sacrifice bunt attempt the Gamecocks mishandled at first put runners on first and second. Steven Neff replaced Webb and after a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, Jason Stolz hit a hot grounder to third that Adrian Morales fielded and fired to first without the runner from third advancing. And then Chris Epps struck out to end the inning.
Clemson starter Kevin Brady had to come out of the game after injuring himself warming up before the 5th inning. Jonathan Meyer replaced him.
The Tigers went up 3-1 in the bottom ofthe 6th but could have had more. With two outs, the Tigers loaded the bases and Epps drew a walk off Neff to get a run home. Neff then walked Miller to reload the bases. Bryan Harper came in to relive Neff and struck out Schaus looking to end the inning and the threat.
USC finally got back on the scoreboard in the 7th. Walker led off with a home run to centerfield. It was his second homer of the series and the fifth for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks kept the rally going as Brady Thomas reached first on a wild pitch strike out and Morales walked. David Haselden replaced Meyer and pinch hitter Michael Roth got the tieing run home on a ground out to first. Morales later scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch with two outs. Evan Marzilli gave the Gamecocks some insurance with an RBI single to make it 5-3.
Clemson cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning. Richie Schaffer reached on an error by the shortstop and later scored on a single by Spencer Kieboom who took second as Evan Marzilli overran the ball in left for another error. Lamb walked and Kieboom advanced to third on a passed ball. John Taylor replaced Harper and got a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Phil Pohl to end the inning. That made it 5-4 heading to the 8th.
Joseph Moorefield (1-0) gets the win for Clemson, the first of his career. He pitched a perfect 8th and 9th inning striking out two. Price (0-1) takes the loss.
USC will start Adam Westmoreland Tuesday night. Clemson coach Jack Leggett has not decided on his starter.