GREENVILLE — Seth Beer saved the day again. However this time it was not his bat. Instead it was his arm.
After an error by Clemson third baseman Patrick Cromwell on a ball hit by Jonah Bride, which allowed South Carolina to score one run and had the tying run charging to the plate, Beer gunned down Jacob Olson with ease at home. Ryley Gilliam, who earned the win on the mound, then struck out Gamecock designated hitter Alex Destino to secure No. 12 Clemson’s 8-7 victory at Greenville’s Fluor Field.
The Tigers rallied from a 5-2 deficit after six innings to tie the three-game series at one, forcing a rubber match at USC’s Founder’s Park on Sunday in Columbia.
“I was just thinking, ‘Get it to the catcher in the air,’” Beer said. “I really did not want to put it on the ground and have any kind of fear of maybe the ball getting away and that guy advancing. I was just trying to make a firm throw through the cut if need be and just trying to throw a strike to the catcher, I guess you can say.”
The throw was perfect and it turned out to be the play of the game in a game that had a lot of big plays.
“We had it all the way,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said jokingly afterwards. “What a great game. I’m very pleased with my team to come back the way that we did after being down 5-2 coming into the seventh inning with nine outs to go.”
Clemson took a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning when Cromwell took a 2-1 offering from USC pitcher Reed Scott over the wall in right field for the go-ahead run.
The Tigers (7-3) added two insurance runs after Cromwell’s home run as they loaded the bases on Logan Davidson and Reed Rohlman singles to right field. After Johnson intentionally walked Seth Beer, Chase Pinder drew a one-out walk to score Davidson. Chris Williams then reached on a fielder’s choice short to score K.J. Bryant who was running for Rohlman.
The Gamecocks (7-4) were not done as they took advantage of two Clemson errors in the bottom of the ninth inning—the Tigers had five overall—to set up the dramatic ending.
Clemson rallied from a 5-2 deficit by scoring two runs in the seventh, one in the eighth and then its three in the top of the ninth.
Bride’s two-run shot to left field off of Clemson starter Pat Krall in the bottom of the fifth inning gave No. 4 South Carolina a 4-2 lead. Bride, who tripled earlier in the game off the Green Monster, took the 1-1 offering and just cleared the top of the wall.
The bomb was his first of the year for Bride as it scored Olson, who had earlier tripled off the wall in centerfield.
After a Clemson error, its third of the game, allowed the Gamecocks to add another run in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tigers finally ran USC starter Wil Crowe off the mound in the top of the seventh inning.
At one point, between the second and sixth innings, Crowe retired 14 straight batters. But with Carolina up 5-2, catcher Robert Jolly drew a walk and Andrew Cox followed with an RBI double off the wall in center field to score Jolly.
Weston Jackson then singled to left field to end Crowe’s day and move Cox to third base. After a pitching change, Grayson Byrd flew out to left to score Cox, drawing the Tigers within one run.
The Tigers tied the game in the top of the eighth inning when Rohlman tripled off the wall in right field. With one out, Pinder brought Rohlman home with a single to center field.
Clemson took a 2-0 lead over the Gamecocks in the top of the first inning when Beer smashed a two-run bomb to right field on a 1-0 count from Crowe.
Davidson led the inning off with a rip to right on the first pitch of the game. After Reed Rohlman flew out to center, Beer took Crowe’s fastball and sent it 425 feet over the right field wall.
The Gamecocks answered Beer’s home run in the bottom of the first when Bride singled through the left side to score Row, who had a one-out triple earlier in the inning. Bride’s RBI hit came with two outs.
Carolina tied the game in the fourth inning at two after loading the bases with two hits and a hit-by-pitch. Hopkins sac-fly to center field scored Stokes from third.
Clemson and Carolina will conclude the three-game series in Columbia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.