South Carolina lost its first baseball game since last season’s College World Series opener, and rival Clemson snapped a three-game losing streak to the Gamecocks that dated back to the CWS with Sunday’s 10-5 win at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The three-game series is now tied at a game apiece. Fourth-ranked South Carolina (8-1), which won the final six games of 2010 and the first eight this season, defeated the No. 12 Tigers in the series opener Friday night in Columbia.
“You never like losing, no matter the circumstances,” said USC first baseman Christian Walker, who had two hits, including his team-leading fourth homer. “Being a rival game, they’re a good team, we’re a good team. It’s kind of hard to expect to go undefeated all year. You figure it was going to come eventually.”
The teams play the rubber game Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Fluor Field in Greenville. That game is a makeup from Saturday’s rainout.
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Clemson (7-2) scored six runs off USC closer Matt Price in the eighth to pull out the victory. Jeff Schaus doubled into the right-center gap to provide the go-ahead run. The senior outfielder had a pair of doubles and three RBIs on the day. Will Lamb added a two-run single in the big inning, which began with USC holding a 5-4 lead.
The finish looked much different than Friday, when Price got the final five outs for his third save.
“We knew what to expect,” Schaus said. “We knew we were going to have to hit the ball because he wasn’t going to walk anybody. We were up for the challenge.”
Price (0-1) was disappointed.
“I wanted to go out there and do my job, but I’ve got to give credit to the Tigers,” Price said. “They put the bat on the ball, and they were finding the holes. That’s all I can do. They’re a good quality team.”
Clemson outhit the Gamecocks 15-5, with Jason Stolz leading the way with three hits. Schaus, Lamb, Brad Miller and Spencer Kieboom all added two each. USC helped with four errors.
“We were in a position to win the game, although I’m not sure we deserved to be there,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “We didn’t get enough hits and didn’t play good enough defense, and Clemson did. They swung the bats very, very well, and I thought they pitched great. We played hard. We just didn’t play well enough.”
Clemson coach Jack Leggett liked how his team responded in the back-and-forth contest.
“Regardless of the pitching, hitting, fielding, whatever, we showed a lot of battle tonight and a lot of heart,” Leggett said. “We could have caved in when we got down by two after their four-run inning, but we answered with that six-run inning.”
Walker’s solo homer to dead center to lead off the seventh against Clemson reliever Jonathan Meyer sliced the deficit to 3-2. Walker, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games dating back to last season, now has eight multi-hit games in USC’s nine contests this season. The Gamecocks added three more runs in the inning on one hit. They took advantage of two walks, two wild pitches, Michael Roth’s run-scoring groundout and Evan Marzilli’s RBI single to build a 5-3 lead.
The Tigers made it 5-4 in the bottom of the inning on Kieboom’s RBI single off USC reliever Bryan Harper. That had Tanner ready to go to Price the next inning, but one of the nation’s top closers never found his rhythm. Leggett said his team learned something from Friday night.
“We made some pretty good adjustments this time around, and we were ready for it this time,” he said.
Schaus helped Clemson jump to a 2-1 lead in the third with a two-run double off USC starter Tyler Webb, who was pulled in the fourth inning. The Gamecocks couldn’t get much going against Clemson starter Kevin Brady, but he had to leave the game after four innings due to elbow tenderness. Three Tiger relievers followed, with Joseph Moorefield (1-0) pitching scoreless eighth and ninth innings to get the win.
The Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jackie Bradley hit a two-out homer to left field. After he circled the bases, the home-plate umpire picked up the bat at the request of Clemson and convened with the other umpires before talking to both coaches. Randy Harvey, the plate umpire, gave the bat to Tanner to take back to the dugout, but Bradley continued to use it the rest of the game. Leggett declined to comment, and Tanner said he didn’t get an explanation. But Bradley said he was told it was “too hot.”
But the end, that run meant little in USC’s first loss since last June.
“It happens. It’s part of baseball,” he said. “We aren’t perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. All we can do is build on it.”
No. 4 South Carolina at No. 12 Clemson
March 6, 2011, at Clemson (Kingsmore Stadium)
South Carolina 5 (8-1)
|Evan Marzilli lf||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||0||0|
|Adam Matthews rf||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||0||1|
|Jackie Bradley Jr. cf||4||1||1||1||0||1||0||0||0|
|Christian Walker 1b||4||1||2||1||0||1||13||0||0|
|Brady Thomas c||4||1||1||0||0||2||3||0||1|
|Adrian Morales 3b||3||1||0||0||1||0||1||2||1|
|Peter Mooney ss||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Jake Williams dh||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0|
|Michael Roth ph||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Robert Beary ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Scott Wingo 2b||2||1||0||0||1||0||2||6||0|
|Tyler Webb p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Steven Neff p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Bryan Harper p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Taylor p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Price p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jose Mata p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Clemson 10 (7-2)
|Chris Epps rf||4||1||1||0||1||1||3||0||4|
|Brad Miller ss||4||2||2||1||1||0||0||1||0|
|Jeff Schaus lf||4||1||2||3||1||1||3||0||3|
|Richie Shaffer 1b||4||1||1||0||1||0||9||2||0|
|John Hinson 3b||4||1||0||0||1||1||0||1||3|
|Spencer Kieboom c||3||1||2||1||2||0||7||0||0|
|Will Lamb cf||4||1||2||2||1||0||3||0||1|
|Phil Pohl dh||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Jon McGibbon ph||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jason Stolz 2b||5||1||3||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Kevin Brady p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Jonathan Meyer p||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|David Haselden p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Joseph Moorefield p||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Score by Innings||R||H||E|
|South Carolina 100 000 400||5||5||4|
|Clemson 002 001 16X||10||15||1|
E - Marzilli(1); Matthews(2); Mooney 2(3); MILLER(2). DP - S. Carolina 2; CU 1. LOB - S. Carolina 3; CU 12. 2B - SCHAUS 2(2); McGIBBON(2); STOLZ(2). HR - Bradley Jr.(3); Walker(4). SH - Mooney(2); EPPS(1); POHL(2). SB - STOLZ(4).
|Matt Price L,0-1||0.2||4||6||6||2||0||0||0||0||1||5||8||1||1||37|
|Joseph Moorefield W,1-0||2.0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||6||6||2||1||18|
Win - MOOREFIELD (1-0). Loss - Price (0-1). Save - None. WP - Webb(1); Harper(1); MEYER(1); HASELDEN(1). PB - Thomas(2). Pitches/strikes: Webb 77/44; Neff 49/24; Harper 24/13; Taylor 3/2; Price 37/21; Mata 8/5; BRADY 61/40; MEYER 41/24; HASELDEN 22/13; MOOREFIELD 18/12.Umpires - HP: Randy Harvey 1B: Troy Fullwood 2B: Tony Walsh 3B: Scott Erby Start: 3:07 pm Time: 3:21 Attendance: 6320
Webb faced 2 batters in the 4th.
MEYER faced 3 batters in the 7th.