USC Defeats Clemson 4-2, Takes Season Series
South Carolina, which has taken the first three games against the Tigers this season, will travel to Clemson next Wednesday to try to complete the season sweep. The Gamecocks have already assured themselves of the series win in arguably the best college baseball rivalry in the country.
USC never trailed Wednesday night against the Tigers, thanks in large part to hot-hitting Travis Jones' opposite field home run in the first inning. Jones took an outside fastball from Clemson starter Matt Zoltak and sliced it over the right field wall to give the Gamecocks an early 1-0 lead.
Caption: Travis Jones rounds third base after his first inning home run.
"I'm just glad I'm coming along, and I can help my teammates and contribute to the team," Jones said after the game.
In the third inning, Harley Lail led off with a homer to left, and after Jones popped up a bunt, James Darnell and Justin Smoak joined the party, smacking back to back long balls to right-center field.
"I just took a fastball away and knew I had to hit it that way. It was on the outside part so I knew I had to go with the pitch," Darnell said.
Four runs were plenty for Cisco, who went six innings allowing just one run on four hits while striking out five. Cisco, who was recently benched from his starting Saturday job due to inconsistent play, had command of all his pitches on Wednesday, including a changeup that kept the Clemson hitters off balance all night.
"I was throwing all my pitches for strikes in the bullpen, and it just seemed to carry over to the game, and after the first inning I settled down a little bit and got into what I normally do," Cisco said.
Cisco said the time off did him well, and now he feels 100-percent.
"I definitely think it was the best thing for me," Cisco said. "It was part my decision too. I think it helped me arm-wise, and it helped me get my strength back."
Darnell and Jones mentioned after the game how comfortable Cisco looked once he got on the mound, but pitching coach Mark Calvi saw confidence before the game even started.
"I knew it before the game. I think he gave the fans what they came to see," Calvi said.
Caption: Mike Cisco brings the heat during Wednesday night's win against the Tigers.
Alex Farrato gave the Gamecocks a strong inning and two thirds out of the bullpen, but when the tying run came to the plate, Tanner called on Wynn Pelzer. The flame throwing righty needed just two pitches to get out of the jam.
A solo home run by Andy D'Alessio in the ninth cut the lead to two, but Will Atwood had no other problems in his first save of the year.
Coach Tanner was pleased with the overall performance but said he'd like the solo home runs to be three run shots in the future.
"I'd like to have more than six hits in a game, but we've done that before," Tanner said. "This was our 30th win so I can't complain. We've been pretty consistent, but we're going on the road here now so it could get a little tougher for us."
The Gamecocks now head into a long road stretch, traveling to Ole Miss this weekend before looking for the series sweep of Clemson next Wednesday and traveling to Alabama next weekend.
- Travis Jones' first inning home run was his eighth in as many games. He now has 11 on the year.
- Justin Smoak and James Darnell's back to back homers in the third inning were the first back to back shots by the Gamecocks this season.
- 5,821 fans were in attendance Wednesday to watch what was likely the final time Carolina will play arch-rival Clemson at Sarge Frye Field.
I'd like to take this moment to share with you guys an incident that happened before the game. My wife couldn't make it tonight so I ended up with an extra ticket. I sold it to a guy wearing a Virginia Tech shirt.
We started talking, and he told me that he went to USC and now was at Virginia Tech for graduate school. He said he had to get away from campus after losing a couple of friends on Monday.
I then realized that no matter the outcome of Wednesday's game, I was just happy to be there. I know we all have problems everyday, but seeing this guy being so thankful to just be at a baseball game made me realize I should enjoy every moment too.