Photo Courtesy of Jeff Blake @jeffblakephoto
Mark Kingston got his first taste of "The Best Rivalry in College Baseball" tonight in Columbia, SC. And it came with a victory over the Clemson Tigers by a score of 3-2.
It was definitely a night for pitching with Adam Hill going for seven innings and striking out 14 for the second straight time in his last two starts. He allowed just two hits in the game, one of which scored the two earned runs allowed. In the top of the sixth, Davidson was walked for the second time and Seth Beer was on deck. On the first pitch of that at-bat, Beer smashed a dinger over the right field wall giving the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Jacob Hennessy got the start for the Tigers and went for five innings giving up just three hits, one unearned run, two walks and two strikeouts. One run was scored during his outing but it was on a fielding error by Grayson Byrd in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Gamecocks would score again in the bottom of the eighth off a Matt Williams bomb that left Founders Park via the right field wall. Williams had come in to pinch hit for Justin Row and saw only one pitch before taking the game-tying swing.
There were only eight combined hits in the game. Both pitching staffs were incredible but a mistake in the top of the ninth is what would ultimately cost Clemson this game. Ryley Gilliam started off the top of the inning by walking Jonah Bride. Before pitching to the next batter, Gilliam would try to pick-off Bride at first but did not make a good throw. Bride was able to advance to third on a throwing error.
Danny Blair would come in to pinch run for Bride. Gilliam struck out the next batter and then walked the next one. TJ Hopkins would come up to the plate with just one out recorded and two men on base. He took the first pitch for a strike and Noah Campbell would advance to second on defensive indifference. The next pitch would be the last one as Hopkins sent a fly ball out to left field that was caught by Drew Wharton, but it was deep enough for Blair to tag up and score the winning run on the sac fly.
The game at Founders Park was announced as a sellout in the top of the fifth inning, stating that there was upwards of 8200 people at the game. Kingston in postgame called it, "...a great baseball game, a great environment, a great everything tonight." It indeed was a great way to get this series started and a huge win for South Carolina as they look to win this series for the first time since the 2014 season.
With this win, the Gamecocks improve to 7-3 on the young season while Clemson picks up their first loss to fall to 8-1. Montee Lee, Clemson head coach, is now 0-3 in Friday night games against the garnet and black. But he has gone on to win each of the previous two series in spite of taking the loss in game one.
The next game will be at Fluor Field in Greenville, SC and first pitch is scheduled for 3:00 pm. RHP, Brooks Crawford (2.00 ERA, 1-0), will get the nod for Clemson and RHP, Cody Morris (3.38 ERA, 2-0), will start for South Carolina.