Sunday, April 10, 2016

Wrapping up the weekend, April 10

Saturday was going to be the only time this season that all 31 S.C. college baseball teams were in action on the same day. But postponements involving Coastal Carolina and Furman made sure that wouldn't happen.

* Home plate is 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher's mound and 17 inches wide, but it's sometimes no easy task to throw the ball over the plate.

Example One: In Friday's opener of Anderson's home series with Carson-Newman, the host Trojans took a 6-4 lead into the ninth innings. But four wild pitches led to two runs and set the stage for Carson-Newman's 7-6 victory.

Example Two: Furman trailed West Virginia 6-4 entering the ninth inning of Sunday's doubleheader opener. But two wild pitches and a third pitch that was called a passed ball help Furman rally for an 8-7 victory.

* Clemson got better starting pitching than it had the previous two weekends, but the Tigers still wound up losing an ACC series at Duke, 2-1. And in the game the Tigers won, they needed an error and a two-out, two-strike, ninth-inning double from Chris Okey to get a 3-2 victory.

It was a weekend where Duke matched the Tigers with strong starting pitching. The result was the Tigers dropped into fourth place in the ACC Atlantic Division at the midway point of their 30-game ACC schedule.

But Clemson still controls its fate, as it still has first-place Florida State, second place Louisville (this weekend) and third-place N.C. State on its schedule. The FSU and N.C. State games are at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.

* Coastal Carolina's weekend sweep of  Radford pushed the Chanticleers into sole possession of first place in the Big South Conference.

* College of Charleston had its CAA schedule by this weekend and took on the challenge of playing nationally ranked Cal Santa Barbara. The teams split the first two games. On Sunday, the Cougars fell behind 2-0 but scored two runs in the eighth to take a 6-4 lead into the ninth. After the Gauchos tied the score, College of Charleston got two runners on base, but could not get the winning run across.

The game was called a 6-6 tie after nine innings because of a travel curfew needed for the Gauchos to fly back to California.

Still, the series will be a good one on the Cougars' resume when it comes to NCAA Tournament selections and seedings.

* Erskine had 48 hits in its three-game sweep of Emmanuel. 

* North Greenville had no lingering after-effects of last weekend's series loss at Belmont Abbey, going 3-0 vs. Limestone to wrap up a 4-0 week. Zack Kamerman and John Leopard combined for a two-hit shutout in the opener, one of two one-run victories for coach Landon Powell's team on the weekend. NGU was held to 19 hits for the series.

* Presbyterian won two one-run games en route to its Big South Conference sweep of Winthrop.
* Tennessee's pesky offense had South Carolina on the ropes all weekend, but the Gamecocks somehow escaped with a three-game sweep in SEC play.

The Vols got at least one runner on base in 25 of 27 innings. Their patience drove up the pitch counts for USC starters Clarke Schmidt, Braden Webb and Adam Hill deep into the pitch counts.

Alex Destino didn't play in the field in the series while recovering from an injury suffered at Vanderbilt last weekend. He came in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth Sunday and delivered a single for the eventual winning run. It extended Destino's hitting streak to 21 games.

But the Gamecocks needed real Houdini act in the top of the. After Tyler Johnson allowed a leadoff single, USC brought in closer Josh Reagan. The next two Tennessee hitters reached base on bunt singles.

Up next for the Vols were Nick Senzel, Vince Jackson and Jordan Rodgers, who entered the weekend as the nation's top three RBI producers in Division I. Reagan fielded Senzel's tapper toward third and threw home to get the first out. He then struck out Jackson and got Rodgers to pop out to end the game.

* Southern Wesleyan has lost seven straight games and 16 of its last 17.

* USC Aiken went into the weekend in first place in the Peach Belt Conference, but were swept in a three-game series by Augusta, which took over the lead by percentage points. Lander won two of three at Georgia College and Columbus State swept Montevallo to make the title race a four-team battle going down the stretch.

Lander, by the way, extended its conference record of consecutive games without being shut out to 262 games.  The Bearcats scored 16 runs in the first and third games of the Georgia College series. The Bearcats hit five homers over the weekend and have 67 for the season.

* USC Lancaster was the only team in NJCAA Region 10 to get a four-game sweep over the weekend. That allowed the Lancers to  pull into a third-place tie with Pitt CC, three games behind first-place USC Sumter and two behind Spartanburg Methodist.

* Spartanburg Methodist pulled within a game of USC Sumter by winning three of four over Florence-Darlington Tech while Sumter was splitting four with Pitt CC.

* All three games in USC Upstate's series at Lipscomb were decided by one run. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the host Bisons got walkoff wins on Saturday and Sunday to claim the Atlantic Sun Conference series.

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