Tigers waste chances in loss to Gamecocks

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by - Staff Writer -
Sam Hall with the early swing against the Gamecocks
Sam Hall with the early swing against the Gamecocks

CLEMSON – Another year, another loss in the series opener to the Gamecocks.

South Carolina scored five runs on two homers in the second inning and held on to beat No. 14 Clemson 5-4 n the series opener Friday night at a cool and damp Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The loss marks the fourth consecutive year the Tigers have lost the opening game of the rivalry series. Clemson falls to 7-2 overall while South Carolina improves to 8-1.

Clemson left eight runners on base and struck out 12 times. Six of the 13 strikeouts were called third strikes. The Tigers were also caught stealing twice and didn’t steal a base. They did draw five walks.

"Give a lot of credit to South Carolina. They played a great baseball game tonight," head coach Monte Lee said. "They had the big inning in the second inning, and they've got a very powerful offense. We made some mistakes to them and they put it out of the ballpark. But our bullpen was fantastic - Mat Clark, Owen Griffth, Travis Marr - those guys threw the ball very well and they gave us a chance to get back in the game.

"We hit the two-run homer in the first and we had our opportunities in the second. We scored single runs in the third and fourth and got back in the ballgame. I feel like we needed to be more aggressive - we had too many strikeouts. It was a very close ballgame. Bottom line is, big innings in baseball tend to get you beat and they had one big inning and that was the difference in the game."

Grayson Byrd homered and drove in two and had two hits, while Kyle Wilkie and Michael Green also tallied two hits.

The Tigers struck first off a two-run blast by Grayson Byrd. Logan Davidson worked a one-out walk, and Byrd launched an 0-1 pitch over the centerfield wall to give Clemson an early 2-0 lead.

The Gamecocks, however, answered in a big way in the second inning.

Quinntin Perez was hit by a pitch to begin the frame and scored on an Andrew Eyester home run to right center. Chris Cullen singled to center and advanced to third on a two-out double down the left field line by Brady Allen. T.J. Hopkins followed with a three-run bomb to left center to give South Carolina a 5-2 lead after two innings.

“Crawford) was very sharp in the first inning, but the big thing was that he was up in the zone—he couldn’t bury his breaking ball,” Lee said/ “That’s a big key for us, is we have to keep the ball in the ballpark. They’ve got a big, strong ball club.”

Clemson starting pitcher Brooks Crawford’s day was done after just two innings and 55 pitches. The senior allowed five runs – all earned – on five hits, walked one and struck out four. Crawford takes the loss and falls to 0-1 on the season.

Davis Sharpe and Kyle Wilkie hit back-to-back one-out singles forcing South Carolina to make a pitching change. Michael Green greeted the new Gamecock pitcher with an RBI single through the left side cutting South Carolina’s lead to 5-3 after three innings.

South Carolina starting pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski was pulled after 2.1 innings. He allowed three runs on five hits while walking three and striking out four.

Clemson added another run in the fourth. Bryce Teodosio led off the inning with a double down the third baseline and advanced to third on a single by Kier Meredith. Sam Hall hit a deep fly ball to left that allowed Teodosio to score making it a 5-4 Gamecock advantage.

Reliever Mat Clark was outstanding in relief for the Tigers. Clark replaced Crawford to start the third and pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up just two hits, walking one and striking out six.

Clemson had a final chance to tie or win it in the ninth. Davidson stroked a one-out single to right

Game two of the series is Saturday at 1 pm at Greenville’s Fluor Field. Davis Sharpe will take the mound for the Tigers.

Clemson senior first baseman Grayson Byrd put Clemson on the board early with a two-run homer to center field in the first inning.

The Gamecocks quickly answered with two-and-three-run shots to jump on top 5-2 in the second inning.

The rough start chased Clemson Friday starter Brooks Crawford, who saw his ERA jump to 6.75 on the season after departing after the second frame. Sophomore lefty Mat Clark came in and stabilized things for the Tigers, however, going 4 1/3 scoreless as the Tigers clawed back.

Clemson sophomore right fielder Michael Green got one back with an RBI single to left field in the third and sophomore third baseman Sam Hall brought the Tigers another run closer with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.


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