GREENVILLE, S.C. –The No. 14 Tigers flipped the script on Saturday afternoon in the Reedy River Rivalry.
In Friday’s 5-4 loss, Clemson finished the night two-for-eight with runners in scoring position and failed to score with two outs. That all changed at the Greenville Drive’s Fluor Field to score eight runs with two outs and finish six-for-eight with runners in scoring position.
The Tigers won 11-5 and for the most part did as they willed at the plate against the Gamecocks, to tie the series at a game apiece before the rubber match Sunday at Founder’s Park in Columbia.
The difference for Clemson head coach Monte Lee was the composure of his team after fighting through the nerves of Friday night.
“The difference today is the adrenaline of Friday night and knowing what is going on with the series,” Lee said. “We could take a deep breath tonight and just relax. We play our best baseball when we are laid back and we did a much better job staying within ourselves.”
South Carolina (8-2) got started early on a one out single from Brady Allen, followed by a two-run homer by TJ Hopkins to left-center that put the Gamecocks up 2-0 early.
But, Clemson (8-2) rallied with two outs in the top of the second to tie the score at two with some heads up play by Jordan Greene. With two outs and a runner on second Greene laced a single into left-center field, scoring Davis Sharpe and cut the score to 2-1.
Then Greene beat a pickoff move to stole second before reaching third on a wild pitch and scoring on a throwing error by the catcher on the same play to tie the game 2-2 heading to the middle of the second.
Clemson took its first lead of the game in the top of the third on an RBI-double by Grayson Byrd for the lead and a run-scoring single with two outs by Davis Sharpe through the six-hole to extend that lead to 4-2.
The Gamecocks fought back with a run in the bottom half on a two-out single by Jacob Olson that scored Noah Campbell and got them within one run.
Clemson continued to pour it on in the fourth inning with three runs coming on four hits with two outs.
Sam Hall got the ball rolling and added to the Tiger lead in the fourth inning with a two-run blast over the “Green Monster” that put Clemson up 5-3. Then a walk of Logan Davidson and three straight singles moved the lead to 7-3, with an RBI single for Kyle Wilkie.
South Carolina got one run back with two outs in the bottom of the fourth after George Callil doubled to the gap in right scoring Quinntin Perez and cutting the Tiger lead to 7-4.
Bryce Teodosio got the run back for Clemson with a solo shot to right center with two outs and stretched the lead to 8-4.
The Gamecocks threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning after Andrew Eyster led off with a double and Clemson sophomore Sam Weatherly walked back-to-back hitters to load the bases with no outs. Sophomore Holt Jones entered the game and retired three straight hitters to minimize the damage to one run, with the Tigers leading 8-5 heading to the seventh.
Sharpe walked to start the seventh, advanced on a ground out by Bryar Hawkins and scored on a sacrifice-fly to deep center by Jordan Greene to put Clemson ahead 9-5.
Davidson bounced back after starting the day zero-for-three with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to put the Tigers up 11-3.
Sam Weatherly got the win in relief with 1.1 innings of work, he gave up one run, one hit, walking two and striking out three. Holt Jones closed things out for the Tigers in four innings surrendering just one hit, no runs, one walk and three strikeouts.
Clemson looks to win its fourth straight series in the rivalry in tomorrow’s rubber match at South Carolina and Lee and the Tigers are ready for the task at hand despite the challenges.
“This is why you come to play at Clemson, you want to play in hostile environments with high quality teams,” Lee said. “Embrace it, a lot of people are pulling against us but the tougher it is the better we like it.”
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