Clemson fell inches short of avoiding the first sweep by USC since 2008 but in the end the Gamecocks’ penchant for clutch plays saved them again in a thrilling 5-3 victory Sunday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. It’s the second c0me from behind win for the Gamecocks in the series and their 23rd win in the last 31 meetings with the Tigers.
Behind the pitching of Jake Long and Clate Schmidt, the Tigers took a 3-1 lead to the 9th. The lead could have been more except an 8th inning line drive down the first base line by Steve Wilkerson with one out and runners on first and second was ruled inches foul by first base umpire David Brown. Many media members, and Clemson coach Jack Leggett, thought it was a fair ball. Wilkerson ended up striking out as did Jay Baum to end the inning.
Still, Schmidt went to the mound in the 9th with a 3-1 lead. He had dominated the Gamecocks since coming on with one out in the 7th and runners on the corners. He got a double play to end that threat and struck out the side in the 8th.
And things started well for Schmidt in the 9th. He got Joey Pankake on a fly ball and, after Kyle Martin singled, he struck out Connor Bright who had three hits prior to that at bat. But one out from victory, it all fell apart. Grayson Greiner singled moving Martin to second. Pinch hitter Brison Celek, on a 2-2 pitch, singled thru the left side but the runner was held at third to load the bases.
Marcus Mooney then tied the game on a single up the middle scoring first Martin and then Greiner who actually was tagged out by catcher Chris Okey but the ball came loose on the contact and Greiner was safe to make it a 3-3 game.
Tanner English then delivered the winning runs with a double to left field setting off a wild celebration in the Gamecock dugout. Cody Mincey, who pitched the final two innings for USC, set the Tigers down in order in the bottom of the 9th on a pop up, a strike out and a ground ball back to the mound.
Here’s a link to video of English’s game winning hit as shot by Eric Guimaraes from just outside USC’s dugout
Mincey earned the victory to improve to 2-0. Schmidt took the loss and is 1-2. USC is 10-0 and Clemson is 6-4.
Greiner won the Tom Price Award as USC’s series MVP and Tyler Slaton won the Bob Bradley award as Clemson’s MVP.
Here’s the video review of USC’s win:
Post game interviews: