The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina baseball wins twice to claim series over rival Clemson

<p>The South Carolina baseball team celebrates after junior first baseman Gavin Casas hits a home run in the fourth inning against Clemson at Founders Park on March 5, 2023. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers 7-1, defeating it 2-1 in the series.&nbsp;</p>
The South Carolina baseball team celebrates after junior first baseman Gavin Casas hits a home run in the fourth inning against Clemson at Founders Park on March 5, 2023. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers 7-1, defeating it 2-1 in the series. 

South Carolina defeated rival Clemson in two out of three games during the rivalry series this weekend. 

Game One

The Gamecocks traveled to Clemson to open the series, where the Tigers came up victorious 5-2. 

The Tigers struck first, scoring two runs off of junior pitcher Will Sanders in the first inning. 

However, Sanders stayed in the game through the sixth inning, giving up five total runs in the process.

“(Clemson) got on the fastball a little bit early on," head coach Mark Kingston said. "Then he settled in, and (I) thought (freshman pitcher Eli) Jerzembeck settled in too."

The Gamecocks would fail to score any runs until the seventh inning, despite sophomore infielder Talmadge LeCroy and sophomore outfielder Carson Hornung standing on second and third base during the fifth inning. 

South Carolina also mounted a rally in the ninth inning, scoring its second run while leaving two runners stranded on base.

“We lost one game,” Kingston said. “We’re in a rival's ballpark. We lost by a couple — we lost by three runs with the tying run at the plate. We’re going to be just fine.” 

Senior outfielder Dylan Brewer, a transfer from Clemson, pinch hit for sophomore outfielder Evan Stone in the seventh inning and grounded into an inning-ending double play. 

“Stone is still working through some things in the nine-hole,” Kingston said, “It was right-on-right, and Brewer is our lefty off the bench. He hit it fairly well, but it was right at the guy, and he turned a double play.” 

Game Two

The Gamecocks and Tigers then traveled to Fluor Field in Greenville, where the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 11-9.

Senior pitcher Noah Hall got the start for South Carolina. Hall pitched six innings, giving up three runs and striking out five batters.

The Gamecocks didn't score any runs until the sixth inning, when freshman infielder Ethan Petry hit a double to left field, scoring senior infielder Braylen Wimmer. 

Of South Carolina's 11 runs, five came via a pair of home runs late in the game. The Gamecocks hit to a .545 (6-11) batting average with runners in scoring position, after hitting just .143 (1-7) the game before. 

South Carolina found itself down 7-3 in the seventh inning and scored five runs in to take its first lead at 8-7, powered by a three-run home run from sophomore outfielder Carson Hornung. 

The following inning, the Gamecocks added three insurance runs to seal their victory. 

In the inning, sophomore catcher Cole Messina hit a two-run home run to left field that bounced off the building behind Fluor Field’s version of the “Green Monster” wall to put South Carolina into double digits.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Veach finished the game out for the Gamecocks, surrendering two runs but closing the door before the Tigers could tie the game. 

Game Three

South Carolina won the crucial rubber match against Clemson 7-1 at home, improving its record to 11-1.

The offense finally started early for the Gamecocks as Wimmer doubled off the wall in the bottom of the first. Messina followed up with an RBI single to give South Carolina the lead early.

Clemson answered back in the top half of the second with an RBI single to score a runner, but it did not take long for the Gamecocks to take back the lead, as junior first baseman Gavin Casas hit a home run to lead off the second inning. 

“It’s been great, he’s a kid that really loves the game of baseball," Kingston said. "It's just great to see him have this kind of success, he’s worked hard for it.”

Casas wasn’t done tormenting the Tigers, as the next time he came up in the fourth inning, he launched another home run, this one coming with Petry on base. On the next at-bat, LeCroy hit his first collegiate home run to make it back-to-back home runs for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina added more insurance runs in the fifth and eighth innings.

Along with the bats coming to life, the pitching was also dominant for South Carolina in the game. 

Junior pitcher Jack Mahoney threw four innings as the starter, striking out four batters. 

Redshirt junior pitcher James Hicks came on in relief and pitched the rest of the game. He finished with five innings pitched and six strikeouts while only giving up two hits for his third win of the season. 

“(Hicks) just dominated," Kingston said. "He had tremendous poise and command out there. It was everything we wanted to see. We didn’t plan on him going that long, but 53 pitches in five innings, there was just no reason to take him out.”

The Gamecocks' next game will be against The Citadel at Founders Park on March 7 at 7 p.m. and air on SEC Network+. 


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