Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wrapping up the weekend, March 12

* Game of the weekend: Presbyterian 11, Auburn 8 (Friday): Presbyterian is one of the smallest schools in NCAA Division I, and Blue Hose teams regularly are at a disadvantage when they step onto the playing surface.

For the second time in 19 days, coach Elton Pollock's team struck a blow for the underdog by using a seven-run ninth inning to beat Auburn of the SEC, 11-8, in the opener of their series in Alabama. On Feb. 19 PC won at Alabama in the finale of a three-game series.

Auburn had a 7-0 lead after two innings. PC cut the deficit to 7-3, but Auburn added a run in the bottom of the eighth to lead 8-4 with three outs to go.

PC got eight hits in the ninth inning (and had 18 for the game) to turn the game around and held on for the win.

Presbyterian came tantalizingly close to a series win, taking a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth of Game 2 before losing, 7-5.

The Blue Hose's next game is at another SEC team, Georgia, on Wednesday. The Bulldogs lost two of three to Rider over the weekend and take a 7-9 record into Tuesday's game with Mercer.

The Bulldogs should take note: PC is coming, and it won't be intimidated.

* Biggest surprise (positive): Furman's pitchers had an ERA of 1.88 for the series but the Paladins  lost three games at Mississippi. Ole Miss hit .217 (18-for-83) as a team.

* Biggest shocker (negative): Furman, which entered the series batting over .300, failed to score a run and hit .104 (9-for-86) in their trip to Oxford. The Paladins have gone 33 innings without scoring a run.

* Series of the weekend: No. 1 Nova Southeastern at No 3. USC Aiken: The Pacers opened with a walk-off win on Thursday - there were six lead changes -  and pounded the Sharks on Friday. Nova Southeastern avoided a sweep with a two-out, two-run ninth-inning homer in the series finale.

* Rising: Claflin  is on a three-game winning streak

* Falling: Newberry was swept in a series at Tusculum

Elsewhere in the state
* North Greenville has won 12 of 13 games since coach Landon Powell inserted Clark Scolamiero into the leadoff spot. After being quite in the first four games if the week (1-for-12) Scolamiero picked up the pace again in Saturday's doubleheader sweep at Emmanuel. Scolamiero, a Greenville High product and transfer from South Carolina,  was 7-for-10 with 5 runs scored and 6 RBIs. Since becoming the leadoff hitter Scolamiero is batting .354 (17-for-48) with 18 runs scored, 15 RBIs, 5 doubles, a homer, 7 walks and 7 steals. ... Oh, and he had a win and two saves in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief over three appearances in that span.

* Benedict scored a school-record 35 runs in a shutout win over Valley Forge on Friday. Sixteen players had at least one hit and 10 had two or more. Coach Selwyn Young's Tigers stole just five bases. Early in this decade Benedict regularly led NCAA Division II in stolen bases. The Tigers scored a more pedestrian 13 runs against Lancaster Bible College on Saturday to cap a 4-1 week.

* Clemson continued to build on the momentum it got with two come-from-behind wins over South Carolina last weekend by sweeping Notre Dame in the opening ACC series. Tigers pitchers had a staff  ERA of 1.33 for the weekend and held the Irish to a .210 batting average. Two troubling numbers for the Tigers could be a .238 team batting average and four errors in the series. But, a 3-0 start to conference play is nothing to scoff at as a ranked Virginia team comes to Doug Kingsmore Stadium next weekend.

* South Carolina got more good starting pitching and was able to win two over Michigan State as closer Tyler Johnson continued to rest his ailing arm. Clarke Schmidt had a career-high 12 strikeouts on Friday and Wil Crowe was effective on Saturday. Meanwhile, former Belton-Honea Path High star Matt Williams has become of the Gamecocks' most dependable hitters.

* After losing a pair of games to ranked East Carolina in midweek, College of Charleston went 1-2 in its weekend series with Kent State to fall to 8-8. It was a mixed bag for Kent State however. The Golden Flashes (9-5) haven't played a home game yet and the scheduled home-opening series against Western Illinois this week has already been canceled because of weather.

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