An emotionally charged three-game series concluded Tuesday night at Flour Field with Ray Tanner and his team firing the final salvos both on and off the field.
First, Tanner’s team used a three-run homer by pinch-hitter Jake Williams to cap a four-run rally in No. 4 USC’s 5-4 victory against No. 10 Clemson before 7,125 fans.
Then Tanner, normally the mild-mannered one in the USC dugout, came out swinging at Clemson and his coaching counterpart, Jack Leggett, in the postgame news conference.
“I felt like we were called out. We had to put up with some shenanigans,” Tanner said, referring to a couple of incidents during and following Clemson’s 10-5 victory Sunday. “We’ve got a great baseball (series) and it’s been all about baseball, and it was taken out of context. I didn’t appreciate it. Our players didn’t appreciate it.”
Leggett asked the home plate umpire to check the legality of Jackie Bradley’s bat following his first-inning home run on Sunday. The umpire approved the bat and Bradley used it the remainder of the game.
Then, following the game, Clemson outfielder Will Lamb referred to USC’s Sunday starter, Tyler Webb, as “a soft kid.”
“We responded (tonight),” Tanner said. “Our guys were not very happy that they got called out. I don’t think that’s part of the game. We tried to come in here and play aggressive and play with emotion.”
That was evident before the first pitch was thrown. As Clemson gathered in front of the third base dugout, USC did the same in front of the first base dugout. At once, the USC players began rubbing their hands together as they peered across at Clemson (7-3).
“I think we all know what that was about,” USC first baseman Christian Walker said. “We like to keep it loose, keep us laughing. We play the game better when we’re laughing and are relaxed. That’s the kind of team we are. Obviously, it was about the bats and them questioning our bats and that whole situation.”
Leggett, according to Bradley, questioned whether his bat had been heated prior to his first at-bat on Sunday. Apparently, the new aluminum bats produce better results if they are warmed.
Whatever the case, Leggett’s actions and the words of Lamb struck a nerve with Tanner and his team. Tanner said his team met in Columbia, expressed their emotions about the incidents, then carried those onto the field Tuesday.
Before Richie Shaffer, Clemson’s fourth batter in the top of the first inning, stepped into the batter’s box, home plate umpire Scott Erby removed his mask and issued a warning to each dugout. Tanner confirmed that Erby wanted to curb the chatter coming out of both dugouts.
When Lamb came to bat in the top of the second inning, he was greeted by a chorus of boos from the USC faithful.
Then the teams got down to playing baseball in a game that developed into a pitcher’s duel between USC starter Adam Westmoreland, who allowed a solo homer by Shaffer over 5 1/3 innings, and Clemson starter David Haselden, who threw six shutout innings.
USC (9-1) scratched across a run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and set the stage for the blast by Williams, who attended nearby Riverside High and dreamed of playing for the Gamecocks before first going to Wofford.
USC needed an insurance RBI by Walker in the eighth inning because Clemson rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth inning.
Matt Price got the final out for his fourth save with the potential tying run on third base.
Bird seed. Senior second baseman Scott Wingo was missing from the starting lineup. He apparently missed the team bus leaving Columbia and was replaced by Jake Watson, a freshman from Charlotte who had played in two games without an at-bat. Wingo had started 21 consecutive games prior to Tuesday. He entered the game to start the fourth inning. Walker extended his hitting streak over two seasons to 15 games with a ground single to center in the eighth inning that drove in Bradley.
Ray Tanner, Christian Walker postgame
|Chris Epps rf||3||0||0||0||1||1||5||0||0|
|Brad Miller ss||3||1||2||0||1||0||1||2||0|
|Jeff Schaus lf||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Richie Shaffer 1b||3||2||1||1||1||0||9||1||2|
|John Hinson 3b||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||2||0|
|Spencer Kieboom c||4||0||1||0||0||0||4||1||0|
|Will Lamb cf||4||0||2||1||0||2||1||0||0|
|Phil Pohl dh||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jon McGibbon ph||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||1|
|Jason Stolz 2b||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||3||1|
|David Haselden p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Alex Frederick p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Joseph Moorefield p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Dominic Leone p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Evan Marzilli lf||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|Adam Matthews rf||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||1||2||0||0||0||3||0||1|
|Christian Walker 1b||3||1||1||1||1||0||11||0||1|
|Brady Thomas c||3||0||0||0||0||1||6||2||0|
|Adrian Morales 3b||3||1||2||0||1||1||1||2||0|
|Peter Mooney ss||4||1||2||1||0||0||2||2||2|
|Robert Beary dh||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Jake Williams ph||1||1||1||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jake Watson 2b||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||1||0||0||0||1||0||2||4||0|
|Adam Westmoreland p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Bryan Harper p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Forrest Koumas p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Michael Roth p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
E - Walker(2). DP - CU 1; S. Carolina 3. LOB - CU 4; S. Carolina 5. 2B - Bradley Jr.(5). 3B - LAMB(1). HR - SHAFFER(2); Williams(1). SH - Marzilli(4); Thomas(1). SB - MILLER(5); Walker(2). CS - EPPS(1).
|Alex Frederick L,0-1||0.1||2||3||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||4||0||1||18|
|Forrest Koumas W,1-0||2.1||3||3||3||1||3||0||0||0||0||9||10||2||1||39|
|Matt Price S,4||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||3||3||0||1||10|
Win - Koumas (1-0). Loss - FREDERICK (0-1). Save - Price (4). WP - Harper(2). Pitches/strikes: HASELDEN 75/52; FREDERICK 18/9; MOOREFIELD 23/15; LEONE 12/6; Westmoreland 77/48; Harper 6/3; Koumas 39/22; Roth 4/2; Price 10/8.
Umpires - HP: Scott Erby 1B: Jeff Head 2B: Greg Street 3B: Morris Hodges
Start: 7:07 pm
Koumas faced 3 batters in the 9th.
Roth faced 1 batter in the 9th.