Tigers fall to rival Gamecocks

LB Dantzler's single to deep right field with one out in the 12th inning scored Joey Pankake to give #2 South Carolina a 5-4 walkoff win over Clemson in the Columbia Regional in front of 8,242 fans at Carolina Stadium on Saturday.

The Gamecocks, who moved to 2-0 in the regional, improved to 42-17 on the season. The Tigers, who fell into the losers' bracket, dropped to 34-27 in 2012.

Adam Matthews' two-run homer in the fourth inning gave South Carolina a 2-0 lead, but Clemson scored three runs in the seventh inning to take the lead. Brad Felder's solo homer in the top of the eighth inning built the Tigers' lead to 4-2. After scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Gamecocks tied the score in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings before Dantzler's game-winning single in the 12th inning.

Evan Beal (4-4) earned the win by pitching 1.1 perfect innings with two strikeouts. South Carolina's four pitchers combined to hold Clemson to 0-for-12 with two outs a day after the Tigers were 10-for-17 with two outs in their 11-3 win over Coastal Carolina. The four hurlers also combined to allow only four of Clemson's 17 baserunners to score, as the Tigers stranded 12 runners on base, including eight in scoring position.

Kevin Brady (1-3) suffered the loss, as he surrendered five hits, one run, and no walks with three strikeouts in 3.0 innings pitched. Starter Daniel Gossett pitched 7.0 strong innings. The freshman righthander gave up just four hits, two runs, and three walks with eight strikeouts.

In the second inning, Phil Pohl led off with a single up the middle, then Jay Baum and Jon McGibbon both walked to load the bases with no outs. Spencer Kieboom grounded into a 6-4-3 double play as Pohl touched home plate, but the second-base umpire ruled that McGibbon interfered with second-baseman Chase Vergason even though his throw to first was in time for the double play. As a result, Pohl and Baum had to return to their bases. Felder then flied out to left-center to end the inning without the Tigers scoring.

The Tigers again appeared to score their first run in the third inning. Steve Wilkerson drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Thomas Brittle's groundout to second. Richie Shaffer then ripped a ball headed for centerfield, but it deflected off Michael Roth's body and he recovered to throw to first for the inning-ending out.

The Gamecocks scored the game's first runs in the fourth inning. After Dantzler was just able to check his swing on a 2-2 pitch, he walked on a 3-2 pitch with two outs. Matthews followed with a two-run homer to left field, his fifth long ball of the season. It was the only time through the first 6.2 innings that South Carolina advanced a runner past first base.

In the fifth inning, Kieboom reached as the leadoff batter on a fielding error by Vergason at second, then Felder laced a single through the right side to put runners at first and second with no outs. Two batters later with one out, Wilkerson grounded a ball to Pankake deep in the hole at shortstop. His only play was to third base and he threw there to retire Kieboom for out #2. Brittle then grounded out to second to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh inning, Kieboom led off with a line-drive single to right-center, then Felder grounded a single through the left side. Jason Stolz's bunt back to Roth allowed the lefthander to throw to third to retire Kieboom. Wilkerson then lined a double down the left-field line to score Felder as Stolz advanced to third base. Brittle followed with a single to left field to score Stolz and move Wilkerson to third. After Brittle stole second, Shaffer walked to load the bases. Pohl hit a sharp grounder to Vergason at second. But on the potential inning-ending double play, Pankake's throw to first was high, enabling Pohl to reach safely on the fielder's choice and Wilkerson to score the go-ahead run. Pinch-hitter Joe Costigan walked to load the bases, but McGibbon flied out to right-center to end the frame.

Vergason drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh inning and Dante Rosenberg blooped a single to right-center to advance Vergason to third. Pankake followed with a flyball to deep right field, but Felder made a diving catch on the warning track to end the inning.

Felder doubled Clemson's lead in the top of the eighth inning when he belted a long solo home run to right field, his seventh long ball of the season. It was also just the second homer allowed by Matt Price in 2012.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Evan Marzilli led off with a single to right-center, as it was the Gamecocks' first leadoff batter to reach base in the game. Christian Walker then grounded a double over the third-base bag to score Marzilli. But the Tigers retired the next three Gamecocks to keep Clemson ahead 4-3.

In the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Kyle Martin led off with a bloop single to right-center. Vergason squared around to bunt on every pitch, but eventually walked on five pitches. Rosenberg's sacrifice bunt moved the runners up a base, then Pankake singled up the middle. Pinch-runner T.J. Costen scored the tying run, but Brittle threw out Vergason at the plate to extend the game as Pankake advanced to second on the throw. Marzilli then lined out to center to send the game into extra innings.

McGibbon laced a one-out double off the top of the wall in right field in the top of the 10th inning and advanced to third on Kieboom's groundout to second. But Felder struck out looking to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Matthews took a 2-2 pitch that just missed the strikezone, then he belted a 3-2 pitch off the top of the wall in left-center for a double. However, Sean Sullivan struck out to end the inning.

Stolz reached as the leadoff batter of the 11th inning on a fielding error by Dantzler at third and advanced to second on Wilkerson's sacrifice bunt. Brittle struck out for out #2, then Shaffer was intentionally walked. Pohl then grounded out to short to end the inning.

Pankake led off the 12th inning with a single through the left side and Marzilli lined a single to left-center on a hit-and-run to advance Pankake to third base with no outs. Walker flied out to shallow right field for out #1 as both runners held up, but Dantzler belted a 2-2 pitch to the warning track in right field for a walkoff single to score Pankake and give South Carolina's its 18th straight NCAA Tournament victory.

Marzilli went 3-for-6 with a run to lead South Carolina, who totaled 12 hits. Pankake, Dantzler, and Matthews all added two hits apiece.

Felder went 3-for-5 with a homer and a game-high two runs for Clemson, who accumulated eight hits in the contest.

Clemson will face Coastal Carolina in an elimination game on Sunday at 12:00 PM. The Tigers will be the designated visiting team and occupy the third-base dugout.

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