Mack delivers USC past Clemson 7-6

The streak is still alive as South Carolina used a bottom of the ninth rally to beat in-state rival Clemson 7-6 for the sixth straight time and nine of the last ten times the two teams have met. Outfielder DeAngelo Mack came up with the big two-run hit with the bases loaded as the Gamecocks improve to 21-10 on the season. For more details, continue reading below.

DeAngelo Mack is starting to make it clear – the "D" stands for drama. For the second time this season, the South Carolina outfielder came up with the big hit against arch-rival Clemson as his bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth scored two runs to give the Gamecocks a 7-6 win. In the first game against the Tigers this season, Mack belted a solo home run that helped Carolina escape with a 3-1 win over Clemson on February 28.

"I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunities they're giving to me right here," Mack said. "He walked the bases loaded so I figured he's got to give me something to hit there, you can't walk in the tying run. He gave me a curve ball out over the plate and I took advantage of it."

Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, USC coach Ray Tanner went to his bench as he pinch hit Adam Matthew for Scott Wingo after Clemson coach Jack Leggett went to reliever Casey Harman to start the inning. The true freshman hit a leadoff single to put the first man on as Casey Rihn came on to pinch hit for Bobby Haney. Though he came up with the intention of bunting, Rihn drew a walk to put two aboard with no outs. Jackie Bradley, Jr. executed the bunt as both runners moved over on the sacrifice bringing Whit Merrifield to the plate.

Merrifield was issued an intentional walk to load the bases with the thought that a lefty-lefty match-up between Mack and Harman would pay off. Instead, it backfired.

"They came up with the big hit and we just unfortunately walk a guy that's trying to give us a bunt, give us an out and that's put a little pressure on us," Leggett said. "That was the tale of the ball game there. We just couldn't finish the game off."

The Tigers (20-11) took a 2-0 lead in the first as a two out walk and double turned into two runs off Gamecock starter Jay Brown via a Kyle Parker single. That lead didn't last very long, as Carolina (21-10) mounted a big first inning of their own.

A leadoff double by Bradley lead to a Merrifield RBI single and was followed with a two-run homer by Mack to give USC a 3-2 lead. The Gamecocks added another run two batters later on a Parker Bangs solo home run to make it 4-2.

Clemson received some help from Carolina to get back in the game as a throwing error from Haney to Nick Ebert pulled him off the bag and allowed Addison Johnson to be safe at first to start the third inning. Then Ebert couldn't make a grab during the next at-bat for an error that put runners on second and third with no outs. An RBI ground out by Ben Paulsen and a sac fly by Parker tied the game at 4-4.

The Tigers retook the lead in the fourth as Brown was pulled for Michael Roth after giving up two singles and getting two outs. Roth went on to issue back-to-back walks that led to the Clemson taking a 5-4 lead on a bases loaded walk to Paulsen.

The game remained in favor of the Tigers until the sixth as Wingo dug in for his third trip to the plate of the day. The second baseman hit a ball high and deep to right that bounced and came back into play and was originally ruled a double by the umpires. After Tanner came out to talk with the officials, they had a huddle and ruled the ball bounced off the top of the wall for a solo home run that tied the game at 5-5.

Clemson wasted no time in retaking the lead again as a single off Roth was the end of the day for him as the Gamecocks went to Curtis Johnson out of the pen. Johnson didn't get much help from his defense as Ebert booted a shot from Wilson Boyd for his second error of the night which led to a John Nester RBI single and a 6-5 Tiger lead.

The three errors on the day are tied for the most in a game this season by the Gamecocks. "That's not going to happen a lot but it's just one of those nights it happen," Wingo said. "If we'd have made those plays, shoot, we might not have been in that situation."

That set up the ninth inning heroics for Mack as the Gamecocks have now claimed six straight wins over the Tigers and nine of the last 10.

It's a streak that leaves Tanner stunned as Carolina heads to the upstate for the rematch tomorrow at 7 p.m.

"It was a great game. We made some mistakes, they did too. We both battled and thank goodness we came up big at the end," Tanner said. "I'm just going to enjoy this one for about the 15 more minutes and then get ready for tomorrow."

NOTES:

-For Mack, the home run was his first since March 17 against Davidson

-Andrew Crisp extended his hitting streak to nine games with a third inning single.

-For USC, it was their first come-from-behind win since East Carolina in 2008.

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