GREENVILLE, S.C. — In Friday’s loss to South Carolina in Columbia, seventh-ranked Clemson struggled to pick up runners in scoring position when it had the opportunity to do so.
On Saturday at Greenville’s Fluor Field, the Tigers appeared to have fixed those issues. Clemson picked up runners in the third, fourth and fifth innings as it rolled to a 5-1 victory over the 23rd-ranked Gamecocks.
The win allows the Tigers to even the three-game series at one game apiece.
“It was great to get back in the series,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “Obviously, winning Game 2 was a must win for us if we were going to try and get back in this thing.”
During those three crucial innings, the Tigers (9-1) got their first two batters on base in each inning, and ultimately brought them home. Patrick Cromwell and Kyle Wilkie each had 2 RBIs, while five different players scored at least one run.
Clemson pitching—Books Crawford, Mat Clark and Ryan Miller—held the Gamecocks (7-4) to one earned run.
“Credit falls on Brooks Crawford, Mat Clark and Ryan Miller today,” Lee said. “Ryan Miller, again, he has been the glue that we need out of the bullpen when we need a big performance, he is the guy that we go to. We were able to stretch him out tonight and he did an outstanding job.”
Miller closed the game by finishing the last four innings. The Gamecocks did not score and had just four hits. The righty struck out three batters.
Clark, despite pitching just an inning and a third, earned the win for Clemson. Crawford started the game and pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings, but he left the game before becoming the pitcher of record.
USC’s lone run came in the top of the fourth inning when Madison Stokes homered to left center field.
The Tigers struck first in the bottom of the third inning on Cromwell’s sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Clemson got its first two hitters on base to start the frame when Logan Davidson and Seth Beer hit back-to back singles.
Davidson reached third on Beer’s single before being plated via Cromwell’s fly ball to center.
Clemson took a 3-1 lead on another sacrifice fly, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers got three runners on with one out on three walks before USC replaced starter Cody Morris for Beer.
Beer flew out to deep center scoring Grayson Byrd and Cromwell punched an RBI single through the right side to give Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
Clemson pushed another pair of runs across in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking a 5-1 lead on a two-RBI single by Wilkie, who finished the game with two hits.
For the fifth consecutive inning, the Tigers got the lead-off and second batters on base when Robert Jolly and Drew Wharton both walked. After two quick outs Wilkie managed his first hit of the day with a single through the right side that scored Jolly and Wharton.
The rubber match of the series will be Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium as the Tigers look to down the Gamecocks for a fourth straight year in a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.