With the game tied and the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, it appeared the Tigers were in perfect position to do just that, but South Carolina pitcher Alex Farotto was able to get his former high school teammate, John Nester – both Riverside High School products – to ground into a double play at third to end the threat.
The Gamecocks later took advantage of Clemson's inability to cash in when left fielder DeAngelo Mack lifted a solo home run over the left-centerfield fence in the top of the ninth for what turned out to be the game-winning run in USC's 3-1 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
"They got just a couple of more timely hits than we did," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.
The Gamecocks (4-0) got three more hits after Mack's home run with three base hits up the middle by Andrew Crisp, Justin Dalles and Bobby Haney.
Crisp scored on Haney's single to make the score 3-1.
"We had the bases loaded that one time, and the double play ball really hurt us. They got the couple of runs late," Leggett said.
The Tigers (4-1) rallied to tie a 1-0 game in the sixth inning when third baseman Matt Sanders took a Sam Dyson fastball to left-center. That was really the only mistake Dyson made as he allowed just two hits in 6.1 innings of work, while striking out five batters – all looking.
"He threw well," Sanders said. "He threw strikes and got ahead of us a lot at times. He made it hard for us to get anything going."
Clemson finished the game with just two hits against three Gamecock pitchers and not once did the leadoff man get on. In all, USC pitchers had seven strikeouts.
"They pitched well, but two hits are not going to get it done," Leggett said. "We did not have the leadoff man on base the whole night. It was tough to get anything going offensively. We could not get any bunting going and we could not get any guys on base and that makes it difficult."
It also wasted what was a pretty good night for Clemson pitching. Starter Trey Delk, Casey Harmon, Graham Stoneburner and Ryan Hinson held USC's powerful hitters to just nine hits, while striking out 11 of them.
Harman perhaps had the best afternoon with six strikeouts and no walks allowed while yielding just one hit and no runs in 3.1 innings of work. Delk allowed one run in 4.1 innings, but Sanders lost a foul ball in the gray sky in the first inning that could have prevented USC from scoring its first run.
Instead, centerfielder Whit Merrifield got a second chance and hit a triple to the gap in left field with one out. It was the sophomore's second career triple – his first came at Clemson on March 1 of last year in the Gamecocks' 10-1 victory. Jeffery Jones then brought him home on the next at-bat when he took Delk's pitch to the same spot for a double.
"It was not an easy sky to see on pop ups," Sanders said.
The Tigers will try an end their five-game losing streak to USC tomorrow in Columbia depending on the weather. Clemson is expected to throw lefty Chris Dwyer, while the Gamecocks will put right-hander Blake Cooper on the mound. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m.
No. 19 Tigers fall to Gamecocks
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