This story is compiled from reports by T&D Correspondent Zach Lentz and Collyn Taylor of GamecockCentral.com
CLEMSON — For the fourth straight season, the No. 7 Clemson Tigers captured the season series (two games to one) over the No. 23 South Carolina Gamecocks by a final score of 8-7 Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“I want to give credit to Coach Mark Kingston and his staff and players for fighting back,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “We were up 6-to-nothing and they just kept fighting back … but what about our guys?
“Personally, I’m very proud of this program. For four consecutive years, we’ve done it. ... It’s definitely a ‘we’ thing here winning this series for four years in a row, three since I’ve been here, I’m so proud of our guys.”
After the two teams combined for 11 total runs in the first two games of the series, the Tigers and the Gamecocks combined for 15 runs in the series finale. However, it was Drew Wharton delivering the biggest hit.
With the game tied at seven in the bottom of the ninth, Wharton stepped to the plate with one out and Robert Jolly standing 270 feet from a series victory. He belted a shot off the right field wall for game-winning triple.
“Wharton in the ninth, with two strikes on him, hits the ball off the right field wall for the win,” Lee said. “I knew he was going to score when I saw the ball pass the outfielder twice. As an old outfield coach, the rule is don’t let the ball pass you twice. So when I saw the ball pass him twice, I knew he would make it home.”
Carolina's Carmen Mlodzinski gave up a one-out walk before Wharton's game-winning hit.
The win did not come easily. The Gamecocks scored three runs over the last two innings to tie the game. In a two-run ninth, Carolina scored on an LT Tolbert double and Chris Cullen sacrifice fly.
Carolina scored seven of the game's final eight runs before the walk-off hit.
Clemson jumped on freshman starter John Gilreath early, tagging him for six runs over 3.2 innings.
Sunday was the lefty’s first career weekend start, and he got chased in the fourth inning after giving up six earned runs and striking out five. Gamecock pitchers had six wild pitches Sunday, four from Gilreath.
After giving up a season-high walks Saturday, the Gamecock staff gave up seven free passes in the rubber match.
Patrick Cromwell got the scoring started for the Tigers in the bottom of the first as he blasted the first pitch of his at-bat into the Chapman Grandstands in left field that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Clemson added to the lead in the bottom of the third after Chris Williams singled through the left side of the infield and scored Logan Davidson, and a Robert Jolly groundout scored Cromwell.
The Tigers continued the offensive show in the fourth inning after a double by Davidson and a single by Cromwell plated a combined three runs and extended the lead to 6-0.
The Gamecocks cut the Tiger lead in half with a single swing in the top of the fifth inning as T.J. Hopkins launched a three-run home run into the left field stands. Jake Higginbotham retired the next three batters.
South Carolina got within two runs in the top of the sixth inning when Jonah Bride scored on a fielder’s choice by Carlos Cortes. But the Tigers needed only one batter in their half of the inning to get the run back when Davidson connected on a 401-foot home run that gave the Tigers a 7-4 lead.
Then the Gamecocks provided the drama, adding a run in the eighth inning before the two in the ninth.
STAT: Sunday’s victory marked the third consecutive year Clemson dropped the opening game of the series with South Carolina and went on to win the next two games.
BOB BRADLEY AWARD: Logan Davidson was named the winner of the Bob Bradley Award given to the Most Valuable Player for the Clemson Tigers in the series with South Carolina.
Davidson finished the series going 3-6 with a home run, a double, two RBIs, five runs scored, eight walks and two stolen bases.
CAROLINA PLAYER OF THE GAME: TJ Hopkins started the rally, hitting his first home run of the season and notching his fourth RBI of the weekend.
PIVOTAL PLAY: With one out in the ninth, Mlodzinski walked Robert Jolly to put the winning run on base and then gave up the walk-off double.
QUOTABLE: “We’re just finding ways to win, different ways, which is a good sign for our club,” Lee said. “I know our guys compete and our guys believe that we’re always going to find a way to win.”
- Clemson returns to the diamond Tuesday (6:30 p.m., ACC Network Extra) against the Wofford Terriers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
- South Carolina will travel to Charlotte Tuesday for a neutral site game at BB&T Ballpark against Appalachian State. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.