GREENVILLE — Andrew Eyster hit a one-out double to right center field in the bottom of the 11th inning, scoring Brady Allen from second base as No. 16 South Carolina downed the 22nd Clemson Tigers, 3-2, Saturday at Fluor Field in Greenville.
“What a great ballgame,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said afterward. “I am very proud of our club and how we fought, especially on the pitching side.”
The win gave South Carolina a 1-0 lead in the three-game series with Game 2 scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Sunday at Founders Park in Columbia.
Clemson (3-1) had an opportunity to take the lead in the top of the 11th inning, when it got two on with no outs after Dylan Brewer drew a walk and Bryar Hawkins singled through the right side on USC reliever Brett Kerry. However, after bringing in reliever Will Sanders, James Parker hit into a double play to short and Jonathan French ground out to short to end the Tigers’ threat.
Sanders earned the win for the Gamecocks, while Clemson closer Geoffrey Gilbert suffered the loss.
Clemson had won its previous three extra-inning games and saw its 10-game win streak in one-run games come to a close.
The Tigers tied in game at 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning when Parker drove Kerry’s pitch over the green monster in left field to lead off the inning.
“I was just definitely trying to see a pitch up,” Parker said. “He had been working quick pretty much throughout the game and he had plans, so I was definitely just looking for a pitch up to hit. I was not trying to find a pitch to drive or anything. I was just looking to put the ball in play and make something happen.”
Clemson’s offense wasted what was a relatively good outing from starting pitcher Davis Sharpe. The junior gave up just two runs in four innings of work. Though he gave up seven hits, he did strikeout 10 Gamecocks.
Clemson pitching had 21 strikeouts overall, which marked the most ever to a South Carolina team. However, USC did finish the game with 15 hits.
“I thought it was an unbelievable night for our pitching staff,” Lee said. “We did a tremendous job on that side of the baseball.”
But as good as Clemson’s pitching was the Gamecocks were even better. USC (5-0) allowed just seven hits in 11 innings, while striking out 16 Tigers.
The two pitching staffs combined to strike out 36 batters and walked just two. The first did not come until the eighth inning.
“We had some mishaps offensively and had some opportunities to do some things, but we were unable to capitalize, but you have to give South Carolina credit,” Lee said. “Their pitching staff was just absolutely phenomenal, as well. They gave a great club and a very potent offense.”
It took Clemson a long time to get a run Saturday, and when it finally did it gave right back. Brennan Milone led off the bottom of the fourth inning for the Gamecocks with a double. Jeff Heinrich singled to left center field to score Milone, giving them a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers tied the game in the top of the fourth inning thanks to a Brewer double down the first baseline. Last year’s hero, Parker singled up the middle with one out to score Brewer, tying the game at one.
Parker was 3-for-5 at the plate and drove in both of Clemson’s runs. Brewer was 2-for-3 with two walks.
Lee said after the game that freshman righty Ty Olenchuk will start Sunday’s game in Columbia for the Tigers.