Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wrapping up the weekend, March 20

Before hitting the team highlights, let's take a look at a memorable Friday night for the Schmidt clan.

Clemson shifted pitcher Clate Schmidt from the Saturday starting position to Friday night against Boston College.  Since younger brother Clarke is the Friday starter at South Carolina, the move created a little inconvenience for his family in choosing which game to attend (Clarke told Baseball America family members split their attendance). Both brothers set a career high with 11 strikeouts to lead their teams to victory.

* Clemson and South Carolina are making noise like they want to return to the national spotlight this season.

The Tigers completed a sweep of Boston College on Sunday when freshman Seth Beer belted his ninth home run of the season to give Clemson a 3-2 victory in 10 innings. Beer is batting .453 and has driven in 25 runs.  He in on a 17-game hitting streak and has at least two hits in his last seven games.

Clemson's starting pitching bounced back from a shaky weekend at Wake Forest with three solid outings against Boston College.

The Tigers are 5-1 the the Atlantic Coast Conference, good for a first-place tie with Florida State in the Atlantic Division.

* South Carolina looked dominant for most of the first two games against Arkansas, but fell behind 6-1 midway through the Sunday finale. The Gamecocks scrapped back and got a three-run home run from John Jones in the eighth inning to take an 8-6 victory and series sweep in their opening SEC series.

Jones, a sophomore transfer from junior college, is batting .422 with 6 homers and 31 RBIs, all best on the team. Dom Thompson-Williams, another arrival from junior college, is not far behind at .395-4-20.

Josh Reagan appears to be comfortable as USC's closer. He hasn't allowed a run in 16 2/3 innings over 10 outings. 

* Thrilling finishes were the order of the day in Anderson's Saturday doubleheader split with Mars Hill. The Trojans scored  two runs in the top of the ninth to win the opener, 2-1, and scored four runs in the top of the final inning of the nightcap to take a 13-9 lead. However, Mars Hill scored five in the bottom of the inning to win 14-13.

* Coastal Carolina lost its Big South Conference opener, but recovered to win the final two games at Longwood.

* Coker opened its home series with Tusculum in exciting fashion on Friday. The Cobras scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra innings, then scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 12th.

* College of Charleston's stint in the Baseball America rankings may be a short one after a 1-2 record against Virginia Commonwealth capped a 2-3 week.

* Lander jumped past Columbus State in the Peach Belt Conference standings, winning the first two games of their head-to-head series before losing on Sunday. One key to the first two victories was that seven times Columbus State scored in an inning only to have Lander respond by scoring in the next half-inning.

Lander's Sunday loss - which snapped the Bearcats' 15-game winning streak - allowed USC Aiken to move into a first-place tie in the Peach Belt after a sweep of North Georgia. There's still a ways to go in the conference season, but USC Aiken holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Lander by virtue of a series sweep.

* Newberry followed up a nice midweek win over Erskine with a non-conference sweep of Trevecca Nazarene.

* North Greenville suffered its first Conference Carolinas loss of the season as it dropped the series finale at King, but the Crusaders kept pace with first-place Belmont Abbey because Belmont Abbey lost one of three at Limestone.

Speaking of North Greenville, Nathaniel Maggio extended his recently established school single-season ome run record to 13 with his blast on Friday at King.

* Erskine's sweep of Barton allowed the Flying Fleet to tighten its hold on third place and move closer to the Conference Carolinas leaders.

* Spartanburg Methodist swept four games from USC Salkehatchie over the weekend to take sole possession of first place in NJCAA Region 10. But the Pioneers don't have much breathing room. USC Sumter swept Louisburg and is one game out of first place.

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