Tigers rally past No. 2 South Carolina

Clemson rallies from an early 4-0 deficit to beat South Carolina, 6-5.

BOX SCORE: Clemson 6 South Carolina 5

Steve Wilkerson's line-drive single to left-center scored Jon McGibbon in the ninth inning in #15 Clemson's 6-5 walkoff victory over #2 South Carolina in front of 6,039 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers improved to 5-4 on the season, while the Gamecocks, who won the series 2-1, fell to 9-1 in 2012. The loss ended South Carolina's 19-game winning streak dating to 2011.

The Gamecocks took advantage of two costly Tiger errors in the top of the second inning to score four runs, highlighted by Grayson Greiner's three-run homer. After scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning, the Tigers pulled within a run with two runs in the third inning.

With the Gamecocks ahead 5-3, Phil Pohl belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to tie the score before Wilkerson's ninth-inning walkoff single gave Clemson its first walkoff hit by a Tiger since April 5, 2011. That day, McGibbon hit a walkoff single in the 10th inning to give Clemson a 5-4 win over Coastal Carolina. It was also the third time the Tigers overcame a deficit of four runs or more in a victory in 2012.

Kevin Pohle and Firth (1-0) combined to allow just one earned run in the contest. Pohle yielded six hits, four unearned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts, while Firth earned the win by tossing 4.0 strong innings. The Buffalo Grove, IL native allowed just three hits, one run, and two walks with four strikeouts.

Forrest Koumas, the last of four Gamecock pitchers, suffered the loss. He gave up three hits, three runs, and one walk with one strikeout in 1.1 innings pitched. The four South Carolina hurlers combined to strand 16 Tigers on base in the game.

Two Clemson errors enabled the Gamecocks to scratch first in the top of the second inning. Leadoff batter LB Dantzler reached and advanced to second on a dropped flyball by leftfielder Garrett Boulware. Two batters later with one out, Joey Pankake hit a grounder to Richie Shaffer at third, but his throw to first was errant. Adam Matthews bounced a single over the glove of Shaffer at third to score Dantzler, then Greiner lofted a three-run homer to left field, his first career long ball.

In the bottom of the second inning, Joe Costigan walked with one out and Jason Stolz ripped a single to left field. Colby Holmes muffed the throw from first-baseman Christian Walker on McGibbon's grounder to load the bases, then Thomas Brittle's sacrifice fly to left field scored Costigan.

Shaffer led off the third inning with a home run to left field, his fourth homer of the year. Pohl then blooped a single to right-center. Two batters later, Boulware walked with one out, then Costigan lined a single to left-center to plate Pohl. Two batters later with two outs, McGibbon reached on an infield single to load the bases, but Brittle lined out to short, allowing the Gamecocks to maintain a 4-3 lead.

Greiner doubled South Carolina's lead in the sixth inning when he hit a solo homer to left field, his second long ball of the game and second of his career.

In the top of the eighth inning, Matthews hit a one-out single to right-center and advanced to third on an error on a failed pickoff attempt by Firth. After Greiner walked, Chase Vergason belted a hard-hit grounder to first, but McGibbon ranged to his right, fielded the ball, and started an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play to keep the Tigers within two runs.

Shaffer led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a walk on five pitches and Pohl followed with a two-run homer to left-center, his third long ball of the season, to tie the score.

In the ninth inning, McGibbon led off with a line-drive single to center and moved to second on Brittle's sacrifice bunt. Wilkerson then laced a 3-1 pitch just over Pankake's glove at short that enabled McGibbon to score the winning run.

McGibbon had a game-high three hits to lead the Tigers, who outhit South Carolina 12-9. Shaffer went 2-for-2 with a homer, two runs, and three walks, while Pohl went 2-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs, and two runs. Wilkerson and Stolz added two hits apiece as well.

Shaffer, who received the Bob Bradley Award as Clemson's MVP of the three-game series, had one of the best weekend series of his career. He was 6-for-9 (.667) with two homers, two doubles, four RBIs, six runs, and six walks in three games. He also had a 1.556 slugging percentage and an .800 on-base percentage, as he reached base in 12 of his 15 plate appearances against one of the nation's top pitching staffs.

Greiner went 2-for-3 with two homers, four RBIs, and one walk to lead the Gamecocks at the plate. Matthews added two hits and received the Tom Price Award as South Carolina's MVP of the three-game series. He was 5-for-12 (.417) with one homer, four RBIs, and four runs in three games.

Clemson will return to action when it hosts Holy Cross at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Wednesday at 4:00 PM.

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