April 8, 2009
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Clemson, SC –
Chris Epps’ pinch-hit, run-scoring single with two outs in the fifth inning gave #20 Clemson a lead it never relinquished in its 7-5 victory over South Carolina in front of 5,865 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Wednesday night. The Tigers, who cut South Carolina’s lead in the four-game season series to 2-1, improved to 21-11 on the season, while the Gamecocks fell to 21-11. The Tigers and Gamecocks will conclude their four-game, regular-season series in Columbia on April 22.
The Tigers scored three runs in the third inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit and three more runs in the fifth inning after trailing 4-3. From that point on, relievers Craig Gullickson and Graham Stoneburner limited South Carolina to only one run on two hits in the final four innings to close out the two-run win.
Matt Vaughn (2-1) earned the win in relief, as he allowed two hits and one run in 2.0 innings pitched. Gullickson pitched 2.0 hitless and scoreless innings in relief, while Stoneburner allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts in the final 2.0 innings pitched to record his first career save. Will Casey (0-1), the second of six Gamecock pitchers, suffered the loss, as he allowed four runs on three hits in 2.2 innings pitched. South Carolina pitchers combined to walk seven batters and hit two more.
South Carolina took the game’s first lead in the top of the second inning. Nick Ebert led off with a walk and advanced to second on Andrew Crisp’s groundout to second. Adam Matthews followed with a double down the left-field line to score Ebert. Two batters later, Bobby Haney laced a two-out single through the left side, but leftfielder Jeff Schaus threw out Matthews at the plate.
In the bottom of the second inning, Kyle Parker and Brad Miller led off with singles, then Wilson Boyd moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt. But Phil Pohl struck out and Jason Stolz grounded out to end the frame without the Tigers denting the scoreboard.
The Gamecocks doubled their lead in the top of the third inning. Whit Merrifield reached on a one-out bunt single and went to second when DeAngelo Mack was hit-by-pitch. Both runners stole a base, then Nick Ebert’s groundout to short plated Merrifield.
Clemson took the lead in the bottom of the third inning thanks to three extra-base hits. Mike Freeman led off with a walk on four pitches and stole second. After being down in the count 0-2, Addison Johnson belted a 3-2 pitch over the fence in right-center for a two-run homer. It was his second long ball of the season. Two batters later, Ben Paulsen doubled down the right-field line and Parker lined an 0-2 pitch in nearly the same spot as Paulsen’s for another double to score Paulsen.
The Tigers’ lead was short-lived, as the Gamecocks tied the score with an unearned run in the fourth inning. Matthews led off with a walk and advanced to third on a throwing error by pitcher Ryan Hinson on a failed pickoff attempt. Justin Dalles then plated Matthews on a sacrifice fly.
Another Tiger miscue helped South Carolina regain the lead in the top of the fifth inning. Mack drew a one-out walk and stole second. Ebert’s single to left moved Mack to third, then Andrew Crisp hit a potential inning-ending double play grounder to second. But Freeman booted the ball as Mack scored on the play.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Schaus led off with a single but was retired on Paulsen’s fielder’s choice. After Parker and Miller followed with walks to load the bases, Boyd hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Paulsen. Epps then came off the bench and slapped a two-out, line-drive single to right field to score Parker. After Epps stole second, Stolz hit an infield single to plate Miller from third.
Clemson extended its lead in the sixth inning. Schaus reached with one out on a hit-by-pitch and moved to second on Paulsen’s walk. Two batters later with two outs, Miller walked to load the bases, then Boyd walked with the bases loaded to bring home Schaus.
In the ninth inning, Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit a one-out double down the left-field line and scored two batters later on Mack’s two-out single through the left side. But Stoneburner struck out Ebert on a fastball on the outside corner to end the game.
Parker paced Clemson’s nine-hit attack by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, while Boyd added two RBIs. Seven different Gamecocks had one hit apiece.
Clemson will host #5 Miami (FL) in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium beginning Friday at 6:30 PM.
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