Sunday, March 6, 2016

Wrapping up the weekend, March 6

We've made it through three weeks and all 11 NCAA Division I teams in the state stand at .500 or better. I'll wager not too many other states with as many DI schools can make such a statement.

* The Clemson-South Carolina baseball series pretty much lived up to expectations: three games with lots of intensity and big crowds.

Brothers Clarke Schmidt (USC) and Clate Schmidt (Clemson) exchanged superb outings Friday and Saturday, respectively, and Byrnes High  grad Alex Eubanks gave the Tigers the series edge with a strong effort in his first college start. The losing pitchers in all three games pitched reasonably well, but were outshone by their counterparts.

The series win may have introduced first-year coach Monte Lee to some casual Clemson fans. Lee elevated an already successful College of Charleston program and the early returns suggest he'll be good choice to get the Tigers program back to competing -- and succeeding -- on a national level.

One slight negative for Clemson, freshman Seth Beer had to leave Sunday's game and got stitches in a cheek after a collision in the outfield.  It doesn't sound like an injury likely to sideline him for long.

For South Carolina, the inability to mount much offense over the final two games of the series brings back memories of similar failures last season, when the Gamecocks failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. It was only two games, and against the best competition the Gamecocks have played this season, but it's something coach Chad Holbrook will work to prevent becoming a trend.

* Charleston Southern wrapped up a weekend sweep of Massachusetts with a 12-8 victory on Sunday. It was the Buccaneers' first true home game of the season in what was supposed to be its 11th game at CSU Ballpark. Weather and field conditions forced eight games to be moved to Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in Charleston and caused two other games to be rained out.

* Lyndale Morley went a combined 6-for-6 as Claflin swept a Sunday doubleheader at St. Augustine's.

* Coastal Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday's 12-5 win over Ball State. The Chanticleers rapped out 18 hits.

* Darius Coldiron of Coker had a memorable outing in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader sweep of Anderson. He pitched a complete game, hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs in a 9-5 victory.

In case you missed it, Coker coach Dave Schmotzer announced last week that he would retire after this season. He's the only head coach the programs has had.

* College of Charleston capped a productive week with a weekend sweep of The Citadel. Nathan Helvey pitched a complete-game four-hitter in Friday's 5-1 victory. On Saturday, the Cougars came within one out of a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory. Bailey Ober left after 7 2/3 hitless innings. Jason Smith broke up the no-hitter with a two-out single in the ninth.

* Erskine needed 21 innings to get a doubleheader sweep at Pfeiffer on Saturday. Chris Rave had a two-out home run in the first inning of the opener, but Pfeiffer tied the score in the third. The teams played into the 14th, when Tyler Phillips belted a two-run homer for a 3-1 lead. The host Falcons scored on a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but had a runner thrown out at third on the play. Fleet reliever Joe Johnson capped a 5 2/3-inning outing with a strikeout to end the game. Johnson picked up the save in Game 2, a 3-1 Erskine win.

* Francis Marion had a forgettable trip to Alabama, getting swept by Montevallo in Peach Belt Conference play. The Patriots suffered 25-3 and 11-6 losses on Saturday and a 3-0 loss on Sunday.

* Lander remained red-hot, running its winning streak to eight games with a weekend sweep of Armstrong State in PBC play. The Bearcats had to come from behind in two games and needed  late run to break a 2-2 tie in the other one.

* Things went downhill  quickly for Newberry in the late going of its Friday night series opener with Lincoln Memorial. The Wolves were nursing a 3-1 lead, only to see the Railsplitters score four runs in the eighth to go up 5-4. Newberry scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 7-5, but LMU pushed across seven runs in the ninth to win 12-7. The Railsplitters went on the sweep a Saturday doubleheader.

* North Greenville scored 40 runs in its weekend sweep of Southern Wesleyan and is averaging almost 11.3 runs per game during its 11-game winning streak.

* Spartanburg Methodist appears to be peaking right in time for the NJCAA Region 10 schedule. The Pioneers went 4-0 over the weekend and have won seven of their last eight. The Pioneers trailed 8-2 in the fifth inning of Sunday's opener before rallying to beat East Georgia, 9-8. SMC took a 16-2 lead in the nightcap and cruised to a 19-11 victory.

* USC Aiken bounced back from a series-opening loss to Georgia Southwestern with a pair of big offensive outings (10-1-, 10-2) on Saturday. The Pacers and Lander are tied for third place in the Peach Belt Conference.

* USC Beaufort had another Sun Conference sweep -- over Florida Memorial this time -- as it continued the best start in school history. The Sand Sharks are 11-1 in the conference and 19-2 overall.

* Wofford bounced back from midweek losses to Clemson and USC Upstate by winning three of four againt Ohio. Mack Nathanson scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Terriers a 6-5 win on Sunday.  

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