Kier Meredith hit a three-run home run to right field with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving Clemson some much needed insurance runs in a 9-2 victory over USC Upstate Wednesday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
“The guy was ninety-eight percent fastballs and he did not locate the first two well, so I was sitting dead red,” Meredith said after the game. “I got the pitch I was looking for and did not miss it.”
Before Meredith’s home run, the Tigers led just 4-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. But thanks to the redshirt sophomore’s home run and later a two-run double by Max Wagner, the Tigers scored five runs to put the game out of reach.
Meredith finished the night 2-for-3 with four RBIs, while also scoring two runs. The eighth inning home run was just the second long ball of Meredith’s career at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Clemson shortstop James Parker was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
The win was Clemson’s seventh straight, while it also avenged a March 9 loss to the Spartans.
“I don’t think it was a revenge factor,” Meredith said. “We are rolling right now. We are playing really good baseball. The mojo, the vibe and the energy has been good in the dugout. So, we just wanted to keep the momentum we have had from the past two weekends and bring it into this week.
“So, we came out with a lot of energy tonight and just tried to win another game.”
After USC Upstate took a 2-0 lead in its first two innings, the Tigers rallied with a three-run second to grab the lead.
With two outs, Meredith doubled to center field to score Bryce Teodosio, while Parker followed with base knock to left field, scoring Sam Hall and Meredith.
The Parker single gave Clemson a 3-2 lead at the time.
The Tigers (22-18) increased their lead to 4-2 when Hall scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After a rocky start, Clemson’s pitching came through. After giving up two runs through the first two innings, Davis Sharpe kept the Tigers close and then turned it over to Nick Clayton in the third.
The righty threw four scoreless innings, while giving up just two hits to the 14 batters he faced. Geoffrey Gilbert came on in the seventh inning and retired the side after the Spartans got runners on first and second to start the inning with no outs.
USC Upstate (30-10) got the lead-off runner on in six of the first eight innings, but they could only get two runs to cross home plate.
Nick Hoffman then took over in the eighth inning with a runner on base. Hoffman struck out the side to end the eighth inning, including a big strikeout of Robby McGaha when the Spartans had runners on first and second with two outs. He got McGaha to strikeout swinging on a breaking ball.
Clemson then got Meredith’s three-run bomb to right in the bottom of the eighth to increase the lead to 7-2, while Max Wagner doubled down the left field line with two outs to score Parker and Caden Grice for its 9-2 victory.
The last time the Tigers played USC Upstate, the Spartans won, 12-2. It was Clemson’s third straight defeat during what turned out to be a six-game losing streak at the time.
“I told (the players) after the game, ‘You look where we were the last time we played USC Upstate and look at where we are now.’ We still have a lot of the season to go, and we all understand that,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “But in this moment, right now, for us to play the game that we played tonight, it just says a lot about our kids. They never gave in. They got punched in the face and have been punched in the face at different times during the season.
“My guys have shown a lot of toughness and have been a very resilient group. They kept plugging along and kept fighting and I am just so proud of my team.”
After a seven-game homestand, the Tigers hit the road to Atlanta on Friday where they will play Georgia Tech in Game 1 of a three-game series.
—photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics Communications
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