March 6, 2010
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Greenville, SC –
Whit Merrifield’s two-out, run-scoring single in the ninth inning gave #15 South Carolina the lead and the Gamecocks held on for a 7-5 win over #9 Clemson in front of 7,105 fans at Fluor Field on Saturday afternoon. South Carolina, who evened the series 1-1, improved to 6-3, while Clemson fell to 8-1 in 2010 and 6-1 all-time at Fluor Field. It was the first meeting between the two teams in Greenville since 1990 and the first-ever meeting at Fluor Field.
The Tigers grabbed a 4-0 lead after two innings, but the Gamecocks chipped away and eventually tied the score in the seventh inning. Then three two-out, run-scoring hits in the ninth inning proved to be the difference in the game.
Gamecock reliever Matt Price (1-0) earned the win despite allowing a run on two hits in 1.0 innings pitched. Michael Roth retired the only batter he faced to earn his first save of the year. Starter Sam Dyson settled down after allowing four early runs. In 5.2 innings pitched, he gave up five hits and two walks with seven of the team’s 13 strikeouts.
Tiger reliever Tomas Cruz (1-1) suffered the loss by allowing the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. Starter Will Lamb pitched a career-long 5.1 innings pitched and gave up just three hits.
The Tigers dented the scoreboard in the first inning to take the game’s first lead. Chris Epps led off with a single to left field and went to third on Mike Freeman’s single through the right side. Jeff Schaus’ sacrifice fly to center plated Epps.
In the second inning, Brad Miller led off with a double off the wall down the left-field line and scored when John Nester walked and Jason Stolz moved the runners up a base on a sacrifice bunt, Shaffer scored on a balk. Nester then scored when Epps struck out but reached on a wild pitch, upping the Tigers’ lead to 4-0.
The Gamecocks cut the Tiger lead in half in the third inning when Jackie Bradley, Jr. lined a two-run, opposite-field homer to left field, his first home run of the year. He drove in Whit Merrifield, who earlier drew a one-out walk.
In the fifth inning, Robert Beary led off with a hit-by-pitch but was erased on Bobby Haney’s fielder’s choice. After Haney moved to second on a passed ball and Merrifield flied out, Bradley blooped a two-out single to left-center to score Haney.
A two-out hit enabled the Gamecocks to even the score in the seventh inning. Adrian Morales led off with a single through the left side and went to second on pinch-hitter Scott Wingo’s sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Merrifield hit a two-out single to left field to score Morales. The single extended Merrifield’s hitting streak to 23 games.
Merrifield came through again with a two-out hit in the ninth inning to give the Gamecocks the lead for good. Wingo drew a one-out walk and stole second. Then with two outs, Merrifield lofted a double to right-center to score Wingo. Bradley followed with a single to right field to bring home Merrifield. After Christian Walker walked, Kyle Enders singled through the left side to score Bradley, giving South Carolina a 7-4 lead.
The Tigers did not go down quietly. Epps hit a two-out double off the wall down the left-field line and scored on Freeman’s single to right field, which allowed the potential tying run to step up to the plate. But Schaus flied out to right field to end the game.
The Gamecocks, who outhit Clemson 9-8, were led at the plate by Bradley, who went 3-for-4 with a homer, four RBIs, and two runs. Merrifield added two hits, two runs, and two RBIs for South Carolina, who was 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Epps and Freeman had two hits apiece to lead Clemson, while Epps scored a team-high two runs.
Clemson and South Carolina will meet for the final time during the regular season on Sunday at 2:00 PM at Carolina Stadium in Columbia.
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