Compiled from reports by T&D correspondent Zach Lentz and Collyn Taylor of GamecockCentral.com.
CLEMSON — For the fourth straight year, it's going to come down to a game three to decide the baseball series between Clemson and South Carolina.
The No. 7 Tigers (9-1) evened up the series with the No. 23 Gamecocks (7-4) with a 5-1 victory at Fluor Field in Greenville on Saturday.
Less than 24 hours after Clemson head coach Monte Lee admonished his Tigers for not demonstrating patience at the plate, a patient Tiger team lit up the scoreboard to the tune of seven hits, five runs, 10 walks and only seven strikeouts — after having amassed 16 strikeouts in Friday’s series opener.
“It great to get back into this series — we had to win this one to have a chance in the series,” Lee said. “Now, we get to head back to Doug Kingsmore to try to win this thing at home.
"I thought our plate discipline was really good and that was the difference in the game today.”
The Tigers opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning, when a sacrifice fly by Patrick Cromwell drove in Logan Davidson — who singled to start the inning and advanced to third on a Seth Beer' single.
The Gamecocks wasted little time getting the run back, as a solo, 419-foot, lead-off homer by Madison Stokes tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. However Clemson answered with two runs of their own. After three walks loaded the bases for the Tigers, Beer stepped to the plate and drove in Davidson with a sacrifice fly. The next batter, Chris Williams, lined a single up the middle that scored Bryce Teodosio and gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
The Tigers continued to add to their lead in the fifth inning. After back-to-back walks and a ground out put runners at second and third with one out, Kylie Wilkie (coming in with a .129 average this season) lined a single through the right side of the infield that scored both base runners.
“He’s a confident kid,” Lee said. “He likes to say that he’ll be seeing me in the press conferences, and I told him before the game that if he gets two hits he’ll be hitting what he bench presses, which is about 185.”
Mat Clark got the victory for the Tigers, and Cody Morris took the loss for the Gamecocks. Clemson’s Ryan Miller picked up his first save of the season.
As a staff, the Gamecocks (7-4) fell behind against more than half of the hitters they faced. Of the 39 batters faced, only 17 saw first-pitch strikes.
It was the most walks given up by South Carolina since April 11 last year against North Carolina. The lead-off hitter reached in five consecutive innings to start the game.
Morris, the Gamecocks' starter, only lasted 3-and-1-third innings and left after three walks loaded the bases in the fourth. It was his shortest outing of the season.
He walked six of the 19 batters he faced, getting tagged for three earned runs while striking out four.
T.J. Shook was the only Gamecock pitcher to not walk more than one batter, pitching a career-high 3-and-1-third innings before coming out with one out in the eighth.
He retired eight batters in a row, at one point.
STRANGE EVENTS: In the bottom of the third inning, Beer attempted to steal second base and was thrown out. On the play Chris Williams was walked - meaning Beer was entitled to the bag. However, Beer thought that he was out and left the bag and was tagged out.
STAT: Madison Stokes stayed hot at the plate for the Gamecocks, going 3-for-4 against Clemson pitching.
NOTABLE: The Tigers' 9-1 start to the season matches their best start since the 2010 season (when they went on to a 13-1 start) — the last time the Tigers’ advanced to the College World Series.
QUOTABLE: South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston: “The big difference was the number of free passes that we gave them. We’ll move on to tomorrow and try to do better.”
NEXT GAME: The rubber game of the series will take place on Sunday (2 p.m., ACC Network Extra) at Doug Kingsmore Stadium (Clemson), as Clemson sends Jake Higginbotham to the mound against a pitcher yet to be announced for the Gamecocks.