Seventh-ranked Clemson put itself right back in the series with a 5-1 victory over 23rd-ranked South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Fluor Field in Greenville, evening the series at one game apiece.
Brooks Crawford, Mat Clark and Ryan Miller all pitched well and combined to allow only one run against the Gamecocks.
Crawford, who started on the mound for the Tigers pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up just one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Clark then retired the last batter of the fifth inning to earn the win and improved to 2-0 on the season. Miller came on and pitched the last four innings to earn his first save of the year.
“It’s great to get back in this series,” said Clemson head coach Monte Lee after the game. “Obviously Game 2 was a must win for us if we wanted to try to get back in this thing. The credit falls on Brooks Crawford, Mat Clark and Ryan Miller today.”
Miller has been a huge asset to the Tigers’ bullpen this season. Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 31st round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, the junior college transfer turned down the chance to play professional baseball last year to come back to school and help his team on the mound.
“Ryan Miller again has been the glue that we need out of the bullpen,” Lee said. “When we need a big performance he’s the guy that we go to. We were able to stretch him out tonight and he did an outstanding job.”
Miller credited his success to the defenders behind him who played a clean game with no errors in the field Saturday.
“For me (success) has to do with the infielders,” the Venice, Fla. native said. “I’m a ground ball guy. I have an awesome defense behind me so I have all of the confidence in the world that at any point I can get a ground ball and we can turn a double play like we did tonight.”
Miller felt the key to keeping South Carolina off balance at the plate was changing speeds and locations.
“Just a constant mix of pitches,” he said. “I think Brooks does an awesome job of it. Mat Clark came in and did it. I just pitch to my strengths, get ground balls and let the defense work.”
Lee was overall pleased with the way his team bounced back Saturday after a tough loss in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night in Columbia. He and the rest of his team are eager to return to Doug Kingsmore Stadium Sunday afternoon to try to win the series against the Gamecocks for the fourth year in a row.
“Our guys were letting it go, moving on, controlling what they could control which was just competing every pitch and playing good defense behind our pitching staff who did an amazing job,” he said.
“So I thought we remained calmed. Very loose in the dugout today. Good energy in the dugout. Not getting too frustrated and I think that is the big key. Just being consistent everyday with how we approach the game.”