Bradley's last-gasp homer lifts Tigers in thriller over USC Upstate

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Things looked bleak for Clemson late in Tuesday’s home finale against USC Upstate, with the Tigers trailing the Spartans by two runs heading into the bottom of the ninth.

And then, freshman Kevin BradleyKevin Bradley
Fr. Infielder
#37 6-1, 200
Pennington, NJ

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Bradley hit the first pitch he saw from Spartan reliever Chad Sobotka high and into the mid-May night, the ball clearing the left field wall for a game-winning three-run bomb that lifted the Tigers to an 8-7 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the final game before a big series at Florida St. this weekend.

Bradley became the first Clemson player to make his first career home run a game-ending round tripper since Brian Kowitz did it against Georgia on Feb. 25, 1988. Bradley is the fifth player in Clemson history to make his first career home run a game-ender - the others to do it are Calvin Weeks vs. East Tennessee State, March 15 of 1969, Mike Ward vs. Virginia Tech, March 21, 1969, Billy Weems vs. Toledo on March 24, 1977, and Kowitz.

Bradley was inserted into the lineup after regular first baseman John McGibbon was sent home sick, and he said he knew it was gone from the moment it left the bat.

“I am not going to give him the Wally Pipp speech,” Bradley said after the game. “We all know what he can do, and we will be happy to get him back in the lineup. I thought it was gonna go from the beginning, mainly because of how hard he was throwing. I got a pretty good piece of the bat on it. I got it up with the right trajectory, and it was a great feeling when it hit the seats.”

Bradley said his first career homer is one he will always remember.

“I definitely won’t forget that,” he said. “I was just really happy overall to be able to contribute because I have had a specialty role this year, filling in here and there. It feels good to be able to help the team win, and that is what I was excited about more than anything.”

Tiger head coach Jack LeggettJack Leggett
Baseball Head Coach
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said the Tigers were in a battle from the beginning.

“We pitched horribly in the third inning there and got ourselves in a difficult situation,” Leggett said. “We got ourselves in a difficult situation and had to battle from behind all night long. At the end, we got a spark and got it going and that helped us out. We did what we had to, and that is what we have been doing the past few months. I had it in my mind that could happen.”

The Tigers trailed 7-5 heading into the final frame, but Garrett BoulwareGarrett Boulware
So. Catcher
#30 6-1, 210
Anderson, SC

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led off the inning with a walk. He reached second on a ground out by Shane KennedyShane Kennedy
Jr. Infielder
#11 6-2, 190
Orlando, FL

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, moved to third on a wild pitch, and Tyler KriegerTyler Krieger
Fr. Infielder
#3 6-2, 170
Johns Creek, GA

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walked on four pitches to bring up Bradley. He launched the first pitch he saw to the opposite field, and once the home crowd saw it had cleared the wall, set off pandemonium.

The Tigers scored four runs in the bottom of the second, but gave up six in the top of the third, and Upstate would hold that 6-4 lead heading into the 8th. The Tigers added a run in the bottom of that inning, only to see the Spartans add a run in the top of the 9th for the 7-5 lead.

Scott FirthScott Firth
Sr. RH Pitcher
#20 6-0, 175
Buffalo Grove, IL

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got the win, despite giving up the run in the ninth. Sobotka took the loss.

Bradley and Tigers celebrate the walkoff homerun.

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