For the first time since 2014, South Carolina baseball won the annual Palmetto series over the Clemson Tigers.
The Gamecocks' and Tigers' baseball teams faced off this past weekend on the diamond. The two teams have a long history, having played their first game against each other in 1899.
The action came early in Friday’s matchup at Clemson's Doug Kingsmore Stadium as the Tigers took the lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run by Grayson Byrd.
South Carolina surged back in the second with a two-run home run of its own from sophomore Andrew Eyster. Senior TJ Hopkins then found some two-out magic with two men on and sent a ball deep into the left-center bleachers, giving the Gamecocks a 5-2 lead. This was the Gamecocks only scoring inning of the game.
The Tigers responded with a third inning full of singles, including an RBI single from Michael Green. South Carolina’s starting pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski left the game in the third inning after fracturing his foot on an awkward landing.
Head coach Mark Kingston mentioned multiple times that all options are on the table for who would replace Mlodzinski as the Friday starter and that there are no current favorites.
Clemson kept the momentum going in the fourth with a leadoff double by Bryce Teodosio, who was then advanced to third with a single by Kier Meredith. The Gamecocks lead was then brought to one with a sacrifice fly by Sam Hall.
The bullpens took over to keep the rest of the game scoreless, giving the Gamecocks a 5-4 win and a valuable series lead.
Gamecock fans who didn't attend Saturday’s neutral site game at Fluor Field in Greenville had to keep up through radio or Twitter updates for the first three innings due to the live stream difficulties.
But South Carolina jumped out to an early lead in the first inning with another two-run home run by Hopkins, his second in the series.
The Gamecocks only held the lead for half of an inning because Clemson quickly tied the game in the top of the second.
Clemson took the lead in the second inning after Jordan Greene took advantage of a leadoff walk with his RBI single, stole second and advanced to third after a wild pitch. A throwing error allowed him to score the tying run.
The Tigers then scored two more runs in the third inning, three in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the seventh and put a stamp on their win with a two-run home run in the eighth by Logan Davidson.
Clemson’s statement inning came in the bottom of the sixth when Holt Jones came in to pitch for the Tigers with the bases loaded. Clemson got out of it, only allowing one run on a groundout from George Callil.
South Carolina’s inability to capitalize on a bases-loaded opportunity was the beginning of a decline as the Gamecocks had one hit in the final three innings.
Clemson took the win by a score of 11-5, tying the series at 1-1.
Clemson jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning after a leadoff single from Hall who was soon after batted in by a RBI double from Kyle Wilkie. That half-inning lead was the only time Clemson held a lead during the game. South Carolina’s rout of Clemson began in the bottom of the first.
Hopkins continued his dominance over Clemson with a two-RBI double, scoring Campbell and Allen. Andrew Eyster then singled to left and soon made his way home thanks to a three-run home run by Luke Berryhill, giving the Gamecocks a 5-1 lead.
South Carolina tacked on one more run in the second from a Jacob Olson sacrifice fly, scoring Hopkins.
South Carolina scored five more runs in the fourth inning, one from an RBI single by Brady Allen, scoring Noah Campbell.
Hopkins hit yet another two-run home run, scoring Allen. Eyster made his way to first after a hit by pitch and was quickly driven in by a Berryhill home run, putting the Gamecocks ahead 11-1.
Clemson went on to score two runs in the sixth, immediately followed by a three-run bottom of the sixth by the Gamecocks. The remainder of the game was scoreless, giving the Gamecocks a 14-3 victory and a series win.
South Carolina starter Reid Morgan earned his second win of the year, pitching 6.2 innings.
“I thought our team really responded the way you want them too,” Kingston said. “I thought our offense was absolutely relentless today, and that’s what we want to see out of them.”
This series win broke a four-year losing streak to the Tigers.
“I grew up a huge South Carolina fan and it took three years of my college career to get it done and it’s never felt better,” Hopkins said after the win.