In a bind pitching wise, Clemson found themselves having to turn to a struggling Brooks Crawford with their season on the line. The way things had gone with starting pitching in Oxford, options were limited to say the least.
After a quick first inning of work the senior ran into trouble in the second, giving up four two out runs, the big one coming on a three run homerun to left. The Tigers were able to get two of those back in the third on Kyle Wilkie's solo shot to right and an RBI single by Bryce Teodosio, but a bases loaded double play would end the inning and erase the little momentum the offense had gotten.
Crawford then ran into more trouble in the fifth, allowing the first two guys to reach, which would end his day. He'd finish with 4 plus innings, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits, and 2 walks.
Owen Griffith came on in relief and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases. He then got the ground ball he was looking for from the next hitter but it wasn't hit hard enough to turn two and it was 5-2 Jacksonville St. Griffith walked the next guy to load the bases back up. That would end Griffith's day and sums up quite well his effectiveness over the second half of the season. 3 batters faced, 1 walk and 1 HBP.
Carson Spiers was then called on and immediately walked in another run that made it 6-2. He would then retire the next two batters on an infield fly and a force out at second. Jordan Greene made a great play on the force to catch a throw from Logan Davidson that was off the mark and still get his foot down on the bag.
That's how it remained until the seventh. Spiers walked three of the first four batters, with a single and a wild pitch thrown in, and it was 7-2, with Spiers day being done.
On came Fridays starter Jacob Hennessy with the bases loaded and no outs. He got a big strikeout for out number one. He then got a double play ball but once again the Tigers could not turn it, making the score 8-2. Henny would get the next guy to end the inning and limit any further damage.
Clemson had a chance to get back in it in the seventh but once again left the bases loaded, bringing the total to 11 men left on base. Getting that big hit with runners in scoring position has been a problem all season long, as this team seems to always be looking to drive the ball and put up crooked numbers. That in turn has led to a ton of fly ball outs with runners on base during the course of the season, and today was no different.
The Gamecocks would add a run in the 8th for the 9-2 final. Tip of the cap to Hennessy, going 2.2 innings and allowing just the one run. He kept this game from getting uglier than it was.
So the Tigers will head back to Clemson and start looking ahead to next season. For the fourth consecutive season, pitching depth has been the achilles heel. This season it appeared as if they had a little more than the three previous seasons but injuries to Spencer Strider and Carter Raffield depleted that depth before the first pitch was ever thrown.
Sometime over the next couple weeks we will take a more in depth look at the season and how it played out. We will also take a look at what's next and get into the incoming recruiting class and which guys we are likely to lose to the MLB Draft. Until then, do your best to make this season a distant memory.