Wow.... what a series! This past weekend showed why the Palmetto Series is the best rivalry in college baseball. Each game came down to the wire with thrilling finishes on Saturday and Sunday as the Tigers won both games. Friday could've been a different story if it weren't for the errors that allowed two Gamecock runners to score or the eleven men left on base for Clemson. Nonetheless, Clemson managed to win the Palmetto Series for the third straight season and clinch the 'triple crown' against the Gamecocks this school year (football, men's basketball, baseball). Gotta admit, I wasn't going to be as ecstatic writing this series review if it weren't for Seth Beer's clutch homer yesterday, but now I'm pumped.
The series didn't start off so well with a frustrating series opening loss coming on Friday at DKS by a score of 0-2. The Tigers left 11 men on base throughout the game even though the Tigers outhit USCjr. 5-3. The game remained scoreless until the sixth inning when 2 unearned runs were allowed to score thanks to a dropped fly ball in right field by KJ Bryant. Errors and lack of hitting with RISP were the story of the game on Friday. The only bright spot that came out of the Tigers' performance on Friday was the excellent pitching performance from Charlie Barnes who pitched 7.1 innings of 2 unearned run(0 earned) while striking out 7 and only walking 2. Barnes is now 0-1 on the season with a 0.82 ERA and 24 strikeouts on the season. Jacob Hennessy and Brooks Crawford pitched the last 2.2 innings for the Tigers and didn't allow a run.
Saturday was a slightly different story. Seth Beer opened the scoring for the game in the top of the first inning with a two-run homerun that scored Logan Davidson, who led off the game with a single, and gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead. Pat Krall started the game for the Tigers and pitched 5 innings while giving up 3 earned runs (4 unearned) while striking out 4 and walking 1 batter. USCjr. would take tie the game in the 4th inning before eventually taking a 3 run lead in the 6th(2 scored in the 5th, 1 scored in the 6th). The Tigers would come roaring back though. Andrew Cox would hit an RBI double along with Grayson Byrd hitting a sacrifice fly in the 7th inning to narrow the USCjr. lead to 5-4. The Tigers would tie the game in the eighth inning thanks to an RBI single from Chase Pinder. Patrick Cromwell would then go on to hit a tie-breaking homerun in the top of the 9th(his second of the season). The Tigers would then tack on two more runs in the top of the 9th after the homer and would take a 3 run lead into the bottom of the 9th in Greenville. Monte Lee and Co. nearly blew this game in the bottom of the 9th though thanks to a few errors that would allow 2 Gamecocks to score to narrow the lead to 1. Thanks to Seth Beer's heroics in left field, the Tigers were able to hold off a potential tying run from the Gamecocks. Clemson would go on to win this game 8-7 but this game was very close to being lost thanks to 5 Tiger errors in the field.
Sunday would prove to be another classic thriller in the Palmetto Series. South Carolina took the first lead of the game in the third inning on a wild pitch from Alex Eubanks. Andrew Cox would tie the game in the fourth inning with his first homerun of the year. USCjr. entered the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead and had Seth Beer at 2 strikes with 2 outs. However, Beer would showcase his clutch heroics with a no-doubter to right field to tie the game at 3 before sending the game into extra innings. The game would remain tied until the top of the 11th when Clemson scored two runs to take the lead thanks to a wild pitch that would allow Logan Davidson to score and an RBI single from Chase Pinder. Alex Schnell would eventually hold the Gamecocks scoreless in the bottom of the 11th inning to clinch the series for the Tigers.
I have very high hopes for this team but it is an absolute MUST that the Tigers clean up on the fielding errors for this team to reach their potential this season (7 combined errors all weekend). The Tigers play the Michigan State Spartans at Fluor Field in Greenville on Wednesday at 7.