Friday, March 4, 2016

Gamecocks take Round 1

South Carolina rode a strong start by pitcher Clarke Schmidt and a 5-for-5 night by first baseman  Alex Destino to an 8-1 victory over Clemson at Founders Parker in Columbia Friday night in the opener of the three-game series.

The teams play again Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Fluor Field in Greenville and at 2 p.m. Sunday in Clemson.

"It's good to get the weekend off to a good start." said USC coach Chad Holbrook in quotes posted on "It was a big win for us against a really good Clemson team."

A sellout crowd of 8,242 watched Schmidt wriggle out of a couple of early inning problems with the help of double plays.

Schmidt hit leadoff batter Chase Pinder and Eli White followed with a single in the Clemson first, but the sophomore right-hander struck out the next three batters.

"Clarke pitched around some trouble early in the first inning," Holbrook said. "Then after that he settled in, from a command standpoint. He was so wired and jacked up for the game tonight that he was a little bit wild there in the first couple of innings, but after he settled down he started commanding his fastball, slider and breaking ball better. He showed that he is a terrific pitcher."

"You've got to give South Carolina credit," Clemson coach Monte Lee said in video posted on "They outplayed us in every phase of the game.

USC (10-0) scored a run in the first and broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning with the help of some Clemson defensive lapses.

Clemson starter Charlie Barnes (1-1) was almost Schmidt's equal in the early going. The Tigers made three errors, two contributing to three unearned runs in the fifth.

"We just got a little momentum going there in the fifth inning and our crowd was terrific," Holbrook said. "They got into the game, our players got into the game and that five-run fifth inning gave us some breathing room."

"In that fifth inning we made a couple of mistakes and they made us pay, which really good teams do," Lee said.

Schmidt allowed at least one baserunner in each of the first six innings, but double plays in the second and third kept Clemson from pushing across an equalizer when the score was 1-0.

"We had the leadoff batter on base in the first three innings and just couldn't come up with that big hit," Lee said. "Clarke Schmidt was excellent."

Destino, a sophomore who arrived on campus amid high expectations only to struggle over the second half of his freshman season, had five singles to raise his season batting average 80 points to .348.

Schmidt went eight innings, striking out a career-high nine and scattering five singles. He didn't walk anyone, but hit three Clemson batters.

Reed Scott pitched the ninth and surrendered a massive home run to Clemson freshman Seth Beer to miss out on a combined shutout.

White and Beer had two hits apiece for Clemson. Jonah Bride and Marcus Mooney had two hits apiece for the Gamecocks.

Clemson tries to even the series Saturday with Clate Schmidt (2-0, 3.00), Clarke's older brother, facing USC's Braden Webb (2-0, 1.80).

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