Sunday, March 5, 2017

Wrapping up the weekend, March 5

* Game of the weekend: Clemson 5, South Carolina 3, 11 innings (Sunday): For the third straight game, the meeting of ranked teams lived up to the hype. Three times, South Carolina (7-5) took a one-run lead and three times Clemson (8-3) tied it up. The most dramatic response came in the ninth inning. South Carolina had pitched around Seth Beer all day, but opted to throw a two-out 3-2 pitch close enough for Beer to smack in far over the right field fence.

South Carolina frittered away a chance to win the game in the ninth. With two runners on and none out, coach Chad Holbrook opted to pinch-hit for veteran Alex Destino. Justin Row was unable to bunt the runners over and the inning fell apart from there.

Logan Davidson had a leadoff walk in the Clemson 11th, stole to second and went to third on a sacrifice. While trying to walk Beer, Tyler Haswell threw a wild pitch to let Davidson score. Clemson added another run and the Gamecocks went meekly in the bottom of the inning.

* Biggest surprise (positive): Clemson catcher Chris Williams was able to return sooner than expected from a hand injury suffered late in preseason practice. He made a nice diving catch of a bunt to help foil South Carolina's ninth-inning rally effort on Sunday.

* Biggest shocker (negative) : South Carolina's veteran bullpen was unable to hold late leads in both the Saturday and Sunday losses.

* Series of the weekend: Clemson vs. South Carolina: All three games had a postseason atmosphere and drew attention from the national college baseball media.

Elsewhere in the state
* Coastal Carolina (9-5) completed a 4-0 weekend in the Tidelands Health Classic with a 6-1 win over San Francisco.

* Charleston Southern (8-2) extended its winning streak to six games under interim head coach Adam Ward with an 8-7 win over Hofstra in 11 innings on Sunday. Hofstra forced extra innings by scoring three runs in the ninth.

* The state's other new DI coach, Brett Harker at Furman (8-3), completed his third winning week in as many tries as the Paladins held off Presbyterian, 7-6, in the finale of the First Pitch Invitational. PC fell to 6-7.

* College of Charleston (7-4), which got pounded in a midweek game at Georgia Southern, but bounced back with a weekend sweep of crosstown rival The Citadel (3-7).

* USC Upstate (5-8) started the week 0-4 but had a solid finish, beating Pittsburgh on Saturday and outscoring Wofford (3-8) by a 14-10 count on Sunday.

* After needing two last at-bat wins over St. Rose on Saturday, Francis Marion produced less drama with a 7-2 Sunday victory.

* USC Aiken (15-3) completed a Peach Belt Conference sweep at Armstrong State, but not without some drama.  The Pacers took leads ot 3-2, 6-2 and 9-4, but Armstrong scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. A three-run 12th produced a 12-9 victory.

* USC Salkehatchie's four-game sweep of College of Faith pulled the Indians' to.500 on the season at 13-13. All five NJCAA teams from South Carolina are at .500 are better this season. USC Sumter (10-10) rallied late to beat Brunswick CC, 7-5, to win their three-game series. Spartanburg Methodist (13-8) split Sunday's twinbill with Patrick Henry to take the series, 3-1.

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