Beer's blast not enough as errors cost Tigers in series opener
|Friday, March 2, 2018, 9:57 PM- -|
COLUMBIA, SC – Clemson was good, but South Carolina was better.
A pair of untimely and costly Clemson errors – a dropped infield fly and a failed pickoff attempt – were the difference in South Carolina’s (6-3) 3-2 victory over Clemson (8-1) in game one of the Reedy River Rivalry Friday night at Founders Park.
Clemson closer Ryley Gilliam walked Johah Bride to begin the ninth inning and a throw over to first sailed past first baseman Chris Williams, who had come in to play the bunt, all the way to the wall allowing Bride to advance to third with no outs in the ninth. T.J. Hopkins roped a fly ball to left field to plate the game-winning run.
Gilliam pitched the game’s final 1 2/3 innings and picked up the loss dropping him to 1-1 on the season.
"Adam Hill, wow. I've seen a lot of great starts as a baseball coach but that was one of the best ones I've seen, so you've got to give that young man a lot of credit. He was as good as it gets," head coach Monte Lee said. "Their bullpen did an outstanding job. They pitched exceptionally well and they scored just enough. I felt like we threw the ball well. Hennessy threw the ball well.
"Owen Griffith came in and threw the ball well. The biggest thing for us was we didn't get a lot of opportunities to score. We needed to pitch and defend well and we didn't play our best baseball game. We made some mistakes but we were still in the game. Give our guys some credit for competing as hard as they could against a starter who was as good as it gets. They got the last at-bat and came out on top and they deserve a lot of credit."
Seth Beer said the Tigers still have a chance to win the series.
"At this point in our careers, it's baseball and you have to understand that. Things happen and give credit to them," Beer said. "They're a great ball club. They kept competing and we just ran out of outs. The best part about baseball is we get to go out there and compete tomorrow and that's how we're all looking at it. It's tough right off the bat but once you take a shower, you wash it away. Tomorrow is a new day and we get to go play some more baseball. Hopefully, we can go out there and compete and it will come our way."
Clemson’s Jacob Hennessy and South Carolina’s Adam Hill were in the middle of an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel when an uncharacteristic error by the Tiger’s Grayson Byrd gave the Gamecocks the first advantage.
Bride singled through the left side to begin the fifth inning and advanced to second on a Hunter Taylor single to centerfield. Hennessy thought he was out of the trouble on an infield fly ball, but Byrd struggled to find it in the lights and the ball fell to the dirt allowing Bride to score and giving South Carolina a 1-0 lead after five innings.
Seth Beer answered in the sixth, however.
With one out, Logan Davidson worked a five-pitch walk – his second of the game. Seth Beer stepped to the plate and launched the first pitch into the Gamecocks’ bullpen for his third home run of the season, giving Clemson a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
The home run broke up Hill’s no-hitter bid. At one point, Hill struck out a career-high and South Carolina record seven consecutive batters and had 11 strikeouts through six innings.
Hennessy’s day was done after five strong innings of work. The Moore native threw 71 pitches – 44 strikes – and gave up just one unearned run on three hits. He struck out two and walked two.
Despite his record-setting performance, Hill was forced to leave the game after seven innings after tossing 110 pitches and keeping Clemson’s hitters off balance for the entire game. Hill just two runs – both earned – on two hits. He struck out 14 and walked just two. The 14 strikeouts tie his career high and the Founders Park record set a week ago against Charleston Southern.
South Carolina senior Matt Williams came into pinch hit for second baseman Justin Row and promptly rocketed a 1-0 Owen Griffith pitch to the Gamecock bullpen in right-center field to tie the game at 2-2 in the eighth.
"He's got to be in his sixth year here. I know Matt Williams and know his dad Steve," Lee said. "Wonderful man and what a great kid. I've got to give him credit. That guy had one home run in 163 at-bats last year so when he pinch hit for Row, the brought him in for one reason. What a great call by Coach Kingston to bring him in and pinch hit him right there. That's a tough spot to come into. Give that veteran left-hander an opportunity to step in and man, did he run into it."
The Reedy River Rivalry continues Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Fluor Field in Greenville and concludes at Doug Kingsmore Sunday at 2 p.m.