USC win streak halts with 7-5 loss to Clemson

After a dramatic ninth inning comeback on Tuesday, the South Carolina baseball team headed to Doug Kingsmore Stadium to face in-state rival Clemson riding a six-game win streak. However, the Tigers used seven walks and nine hits to eek out a 7-5 win over the Gamecocks for their first victory since 2007. For more information, continue reading below.

CLEMSON – DeAngelo Mack stepped into the batter's box and notched another ninth inning hit that scored another run. But this time, it just wasn't quite enough.

Mack's RBI single in the top of the ninth only trimmed the lead down by one as the South Carolina baseball team dropped a 7-5 game against Clemson for their first loss in the last seven games.

But that win streak proved to be the furthest thing from USC coach Ray Tanner's mind.

"I never really thought about the streak. I feel like in this situation since I've been at South Carolina it's been pretty even. I'm glad that we had a little bit of a streak going but it's over now," Tanner said.

The Gamecocks (21-11) aided the Tigers' efforts by doling out seven walks, two hit batters and two wild pitches from the first four arms they sent to the mound. USC starter Adam Westmoreland shut Clemson out the first two innings before giving up two runs on a leadoff walk to Mike Freeman that was followed by an Addison Johnson homer in the third.

That chased Westmoreland from the game as Will Casey came on in relief. Tanner had hoped his outing would provide "a little more than we got."

"He scuffles a little bit. He gets behind in the count, not enough first pitch strikes," Tanner said. "His line doesn't look all that bad but I think he threw 50 pitches in two innings. That's a little bit high. I was hoping for a bit more of a quality start than that."

Casey had control issues of his own as he allowed four runs on three hits while walking two and hitting another. Parker Bangs pitched one inning of relief and gave up an earned run on two hits while Brandon Miller issued two walks and was pulled immediately.

Justin Hopper and Grimes Medlin combined for two innings of shutout work but the Tigers had already claimed a 7-4 lead by the time they were inserted.

When the Tigers (21-11) weren't being walked they came up with clutch hitting as three runs in the fifth inning helped Clemson take a 6-4 lead. An RBI single by pinch hitter Craig Epps gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead that would not relinquish.

"Our downfall tonight was I think we walked seven and hit two so nine of those guys were on base without putting it in play and four of them ended up scoring," Tanner said. "We were a little bit excessive tonight. Seven (walks) I think and two hit batsmen were four of the runs scored. You'd rather make them earn everything. We aided the situation a little bit but as I said they made some clutch pitches when they needed to and came up with some big hits."

The Gamecocks started off with a consistent offense that scored one run from the second through fifth innings. Though USC was helping Clemson by giving out walks, the Tiger defense committed three errors including a misplayed ball at second during Andrew Crisp's at-bat that allowed the Gamecocks to take a 4-3 lead.

But over the course of the sixth, seventh and eighth, USC got one base runner on a walk to Nick Ebert in the seventh and could not figure out three Clemson relievers.

Combined with the putrid offense late, the self inflicted wounds were enough to doom the team according to Adam Matthews.

"We kind of beat ourselves along the way with some walks and stuff. But Clemson's a great team. You give them those chances to score some runs and they'll come back to haunt you," Matthews said.

Carolina now heads to Oxford for a much needed weekend series against Ole Miss. Already two games below .500 in the SEC, the Gamecocks are in a near must win situation if they plan to stay afloat in the Eastern Division race.

Tanner's hope is that the loss to the Tigers doesn't take the steam out the team as they head into the weekend.

"I like the game and I know coach (Jack) Leggett does. Guys play hard, there's some pressure, there are lot of clutch at-bats, there's a lot of intensity and you try to get your pitchers to mix and match," Tanner said. "It's always a lot of fun playing no doubt about it. You certainly would like to win but they did a better job than we did tonight."

NOTES:

-Prior to the Wednesday game, USC had gone three games without hitting a batter. They hit two against the Tigers.

-Andrew Crisp's nine-game hitting streak ended as he went 0-for-4 on the night.

-DeAngelo Mack is now 3-for-3 with three RBI in the ninth inning against Clemson this season. His ninth inning hit was his only hit of the night.

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