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#2 South Carolina Downs #15 Clemson 9-6 Saturday

#2 South Carolina Downs #15 Clemson 9-6 Saturday

March 3, 2012

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Columbia, SC –

Adam Matthews’ three-run homer in the third inning highlighted #2 South Carolina’s 11-hit attack in its 9-6 victory over #15 Clemson in front of 8,242 fans at Carolina Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks, who took a 2-0 lead in the series, improved to 9-0 on the season. The Tigers fell to 4-4 on the season and dropped their first weekend series since 2011 after winning the previous nine weekend series during the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons.

The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning on Jason Stolz’s two-out, two-run single. But South Carolina responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning and three more in the third on Matthews’ long ball. Evan Beal entered the game in the fifth inning for the Gamecocks and shut the Tiger offense down until Richie Shaffer’s two-run homer in the ninth inning. But it was not enough, as South Carolina extended their national-best winning streak to 19 games.

Beal (1-0), a freshman righthander, earned his first career win by tossing 4.0 solid innings, allowing three hits, two runs, and one walk with five strikeouts. Nolan Belcher retired the only batter he faced for the second day in a row to record his second save of the year.

Tiger starter Dominic Leone (2-1) suffered the loss, as he gave up four hits, six runs, and three walks with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings pitched. Jonathan Meyer pitched 3.0 effective innings and did not allow an earned run while striking out four batters.

The Tigers dented the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning. Phil Pohl led off with a walk on four pitches and went to third base on Brad Felder’s groundball double over the first-base bag. After the next two Tigers were retired, Stolz grounded a two-out single up the middle to score Pohl and Felder. A Jon McGibbon single to right field and a Thomas Brittle walk loaded the bases, but Steve Wilkerson popped up for out #3.

LB Dantzler led off the bottom of the second inning with a line-drive home run to right field, his third long ball of the season. Kyle Martin followed with a seeing-eye single through the right side, then Joey Pankake walked on five pitches. After Matthews’ sacrifice bunt moved the runners up a base, Dante Rosenberg grounded out to second to plate Martin and tie the score. With two outs, Chase Vergason was hit-by-pitch and Evan Marzilli walked after being down in the count 0-2 to load the bases. Tanner English was also hit-by-pitch to bring home Pankake for the go-ahead run. Christian Walker struck out to prevent further damage.

In the third inning, Martin drew a one-out walk and Pankake reached on an infield single to short. Matthews followed with a three-run homer to center, his first long ball of the season.

Brittle led off the top of the fifth inning with a hit-by-pitch but was erased at second on Wilkerson’s hard-hit fielder’s choice to short. Shaffer belted a double down the left-field line to score Wilkerson and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Pohl drove home Shaffer on a grounder up the middle and reached on an errant throw to first.

The Gamecocks responded with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Matthews hit a one-out, infield single on a check-swing and advanced to third base on Rosenberg’s bloop single down the right-field line. Two batters later with two outs, Marzilli reached on an error by Wilkerson at second that allowed Matthews to score.

In the eighth inning, English led off with a bunt single, stole second, and scored on Walker’s double over the third-base bag on an 0-2 pitch. Dantzler reached on another bunt single to advance Walker to third. Two batters later with one out, Pankake reached on a fielder’s choice to third as Dantzler was retired at second and Walker scored.

In the ninth inning, Brittle drew a one-out walk. Two batters later with two outs, Shaffer lined a two-run homer to left field, his third long ball of the year. Pohl followed with a single up the middle, then Felder slapped a grounder headed for centerfield, but Pankake ranged to his left, fielded the ball, and made the throw to first for the game-ending out.

Matthews led South Carolina’s 11-hit attack by going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and two runs. English, Dantzler, and Martin added two hits apiece.

Shaffer went 2-for-5 with a homer, double, three RBIs, and two runs for Clemson, who totaled eight hits in the contest.

Clemson and South Carolina will play game-three of the three-game series on Sunday at 2:00 PM at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson. The game will be available live via webcast on ESPN3.