Tigers win series for fifth time in the last six years over South Carolina
Despite a controversial call in the bottom of the sixth inning that deflated the crowd at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the Clemson Tigers still rallied and brought life back to their fans with a win over rival South Carolina Sunday.
The Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on four hits as they rallied for a 5-2 victory over the Gamecocks in front of 5,655 fans.
“We persevered, and that was a big deal for us,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “We had time and time again opportunities to drive runners in and we have not been able to do it. We persevered. We did not get down. Obviously, the seventh inning was huge.”
After Bryar Hawkins sacrificed Elijah Henderson to tie the game at 2-2 with one out in the seventh inning, James Parker doubled to the right centerfield gap, scoring Kier Meredith and Davis Sharpe for a 4-2 lead. Parker then slid home on Adam Hackenberg’s single to left field for a 5-2 advantage.
South Carolina (7-4) tried to appeal Parker’s slide with replay, but the sophomore made a heck of a play by getting his hand just by USC catcher Dallas Beaver as he tried to apply the tag.
“When I rounded (third), I just kind of lost my footing a little bit so I just kind of got back going and I saw the ball beat me there,” Parker said. “The ball did kind of come up a little bit so I had a little bit of a window to kind of go down and it was just kind of one of those plays.”
The win on Sunday allowed Clemson (9-2) to clinch the series over the Gamecocks, the Tigers’ fifth over USC in the last five years. Clemson won Game 1 on Friday, 7-1, in Columbia.
The controversial play came in the sixth inning.
Things got complicated when Clemson loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Dylan Brewer hit a short flyball to left field that South Carolina’s Andrew Eyster dropped as he was sliding. Hawkins was thrown out on the play for what looked like a normal fielder’s choice after having to hold up at third base on what he thought would be a tag play. That caused confusion everywhere.
South Carolina’s head coach Mark Kingston asked the umpire to review the play, feeling Brewer ran past Hackenberg. Replay showed with all the confusion Brewer did run past Hackenberg as he turned first base and Hackenberg was walking back to tag. Brewer was ruled automatically out after replay.
Lee said afterward that is a play that is reviewed by replay.
Sam Hall struck out to end the threat and the Tigers got nothing after loading the bases with no outs.
“We had opportunities in the sixth. Pretty frustrating,” Lee said. “We had bases loaded and nobody out and we did not get anything out of it. We made a mistake there at first base. We passed a runner. That is what the review was over, so give Coach Kingston credit for that, that is not always something you see as the opposing coach. He saw that and I give him credit for that.”
Mat Clark got the win for Clemson in relief of starter Spencer Strider. He pitched three scoreless innings for the Tigers. He had four strikeouts and no walks after coming in in the fifth inning. He allowed just one hit and that was to the first batter.
“Mat was the difference for us,” Lee said. “With Spencer being on a pitch count, we needed Matt to be really good for us and Mat was outstanding.”
Carson Spiers recorded his fourth save of the year.
Sam Weatherly, who won Game 1 with a no-hit effort in seven innings of work on Friday, was named the MVP of the series for Clemson and is the recipient of this year’s Bob Bradley Award.
Clemson plays the College of Charleston next at 4 p.m., on Wednesday.
Clemson baseball is back. Get your official Clemson gear right here!