USC fans in the Fluor Field record crowd of 7460 watching Saturday afternoon’s second game of the weekend series with Clemson were feeling really good about things going to the seventh inning. The Gamecocks spotted the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead on a Seth Beer homer in the top of the first then scored the next five runs for a 5-2 lead. But the seventh proved to be the turning point in the game as the Tigers rallied for an 8-7 win to even the series at 1-1.
The Tigers scored a pair of runs in the seventh off Wil Crowe and reliever Colie Bowers to pull within a run. Chad Holbrook brought in his closer Tyler Johnson to start the 8th seeking a six out save. But Johnson, who threw 19 pitches in earning the save Friday night and who, according to Holbrook, has a bit of a sore arm, didn’t have his best stuff.
Reed Rohlman hammered a triple off of him to lead off the inning and scored one out later on a single by Chase Pinder to tie the game at 5-5.
Monte Lee countered in the bottom of the 8th with his own closer Ryley Gilliam. But unlike Johnson, Gilliam was plenty fresh not having pitched since February 24th. Gilliam pitched a scoreless 8th setting the stage for the dramatic ninth inning.
Johnson got the first out of the 9th and then was lifted for Reed Scott after falling behind 2-0 to Patrick Cromwell. Reed thru a first pitch strike then his second pitch was crushed over the right field wall for a 6-5 Clemson lead. The Tigers would add two more runs for an 8-5 lead going to the bottom of the 9th.
The Gamecocks, however, would not go down without a fight. With one out and runners on first and third, Jacob Olson doubled high off the wall in left to make it an 8-6 game with the tying runs on second and third. Jonah Bride then hit a hopper that Cromwell at third misplayed for an error. Matt Williams scored easily from third but Olson was gunned down at the plate by Beer for the second out with Bride taking second on the throw.
That brought up Alex Destino to face Gilliam with the tying run at second. Destino got ahead in the count 2-0 but Gilliam fought back to strike out Destino looking to end the game.
Gilliam earned his first win of the season and Reed took the loss to fall to 0-1. Clemson improved to 7-3 and USC fell to 7-4. The Tigers won despite committing five errors in the infield but only one of USC’s seven runs was unearned.
Clemson goes for its third straight series win against the Gamecocks tomorrow afternoon in Columbia. Righthander Alex Eubanks will start for the Tigers against Gamecock righthander Alex Hill. Eubanks beat the Gamecocks 4-1 in the third game of last year’s series allowing six hits over 7.2 innings. Hill did not face the Tigers last season.
Post Game Interviews
Clemson’s Monte Lee, Seth Beer, Patrick Cromwell & Ryley Gilliam
USC’s Chad Holbrook, Jonah Bride and Wil Crowe