Clemson baseball, teetering on the NCAA tournament bubble, needed a bounce-back win after getting swept this past weekend.
South Carolina, battling for an edge in the NCAA regional hosting conversation, was looking to build some more momentum after a dramatic walk-off win Sunday.
In the end, the Tigers were the team to come away with the crucial victory Tuesday, topping the Gamecocks 5-2 in the finale of the rivalry series that was postponed from February. USC, which won the first two games of annual in-state showdown early on in the season, will still claim the series victory but missed the opportunity for the first sweep in the rivalry since 2014.
South Carolina actually out-hit Clemson on Tuesday, 8-6, and got a runner on base in each of the first six innings of the contest. But the Gamecocks went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 total on base.
Indeed, Carolina’s only two runs on the evening came from solo home runs — junior Wes Clarke went deep in the fifth inning for his 19th long ball of the year, while senior Jeff Heinrich had his first homer of the season in the eighth.
The Tigers, meanwhile, took advantage of six walks, three hit batters and plenty of small ball to push the majority of their runs across.
After Clarke’s homer in the fifth, USC junior reliever Daniel Lloyd started off the bottom half of the frame with a walk, then hit Clemson junior centerfielder Bryce Teodosio near the ear flap of his helmet — after a lengthy delay, Teodosio left the game and was replaced on the basepaths by freshman J.D. Brock.
The next batter, leadoff man Sam Hall, tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but it shot out quickly to Lloyd. Looking to throw to third to get the lead runner, though, Lloyd flubbed the throw and two runs scored as left fielder Josiah Sightler was slow to back up the error.
Two batters later, an RBI single from sophomore James Parker drove in a third unearned run. It was the Tigers’ first hit of the game, but it was quickly followed by three more in the sixth inning — with two outs, sophomore Bryar Hawkins singled up the middle, freshman Max Wagner doubled down the left field line and Brock drove in a run with an infield single to make it 4-1.
After Heinrich went deep to close the gap in the eighth, Clemson responded with a solo home run of its own from freshman Dylan Brewer, followed by a pair of walks, an RBI single from sophomore Kier Meredith and a double steal to ultimately push three insurance runs across.
NEXT USC BASEBALL GAME
Who: No. 25 South Carolina vs. Kentucky
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Kentucky Proud Park, Lexington, Kentucky
Watch: Streaming online on SEC Network Plus via WatchESPN
NEXT CLEMSON BASEBALL GAME
Who: Clemson vs. No. 17 Florida State
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Dick Howser Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida
Watch: ACC Network