Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wrapping up the weekend, April 23

Series of the weekend
Mercer at The Citadel
The host Bulldogs played three close games against the SoCon-leading Mercer Bears ... and came up losers in all three when Mercer scored in its final at-bat. Ace pitcher J.P. Sears was staked to a four-run lead after two innings of Friday's opener and left after six innings with a 5-3 lead. But Mercer scored two runs in the eighth and pushed across a run in the 10th for a 6-5 victory. A pair of ninth-inning runs was the difference in a 5-3 win on Saturday.  Sunday may have been the most frustrating loss of the three. Ben Peden staked The Citadel to a 1-0 lead in the first. Mercer tied the game in the eighth and scored the last run of a 2-1 victory in the 13th when a potential third-out grounder ate up third baseman Jonathan Sabo for an error.

Game of the day
USC Aiken 12, Montevallo 11
Brian Parreira homered in the eighth and ninth innings to cap the Pacers' comeback from a 10-5 deficit to complete a Peach Belt Conference series sweep. Aiken led 3-1 after the first inning but didn't lead again until Parreira's two-run shot proved the game's final runs.  The Pacers scored four runs in the eighth and three in the ninth.

Rising: Furman stretched its winning streak to seven games with a home sweep of East Tennessee State in SoCon play.

Falling: After a 13-2 Conference Carolinas start, Erskine lost its last 12 conference games to finish fifth.

Elsewhere across the state
* Clemson (33-8, 16-5) officially clinched a spot in the ACC Tournament with a 2-1 series victory over Wake Forest.  The Tigers are one game behind Louisville in the Atlantic Division standings entering next week's trip to Coastal Division-leading North Carolina.

* USC Lancaster's (38-13, 13-5) series split with Spartanburg Methodist (32-18, 12-6) on the final weekend of league play was enough to win the regular-season championship in NJCAA Region 10. Florence-Darlington Tech (34-15, 13-5) went 3-0 against USC Sumter (26-26, 5-14) to slip past the Pioneers into second place.

* Winthrop (23-17, 10-5) took sole possession of first place in the Big South by winning two of three over Longwood. Presbyterian (21-21, 9-6) lost two of three to High Point to fall into a second-place tie with Liberty.

* Furman (18-20, 7-8) extended its SoCon winning streak to six games by sweeping East Tennessee State at Latham Stadium. The Paladins, who have won seven straight overall, hit .363 for the ETSU series.

* North Greenville (37-13, 18-7) wrapped up second seed for the Conference Carolinas Tournament with a three-game sweep of Barton.

* Newberry (31-19, 16-8) clinched third place in the South Atlantic Conference with a three-game home sweep of Lenoir-Rhyne. The Wolves entered the weekend on a five-game losing streak.

* Wofford (22-18, 7-5) in the top half of the SoCon standings and remained above .500 in the league with a 2-1 series win over Samford.

* Charleston Southern (20-20, 9-9) evened its Big South Conference record with its weekend series sweep of Radford.

* College of Charleston (20-20, 10-5) crept within a half-game of first-place Northeastern in the CAA by sweeping a home series with Towson.

* Coastal Carolina (24-15-1, 11-6-1) a half-game behind South Alabama in the Sun Belt's East Division by losing two of three at home against Georgia Southern. The Eagles, a half-game behind the Chanticleers, scored the tying run in Sunday's 3-2 victory on three walks and a hit batsman in the eighth and got the game-winner on a double play later in the inning.

* South Carolina (24-15, 9-9) squandered a chance to win an SEC series against Florida on Saturday, losing to the Gators, 7-5, on J.J. Schwarz' grand slam in the eighth. Coach Chad Holbrook gambled by bringing reliever Josh Reagan into a 2-2 game in the fourth. It worked on one level in that the Gamecocks took a 5-3 lead. But when Reagan ran out of gas in the eighth (he allowed a single and a walk to the first two batters), there was no one in the bullpen able to close the deal because closer Tyler Johnson had thrown 39 pitches over two innings on Friday. Colie Bowers walked the first batter he faced on four pitches to load the bases. Schwarz jumped to a 1-0 fastball to send the Gamecocks to their fourth straight series loss. One bright spot for USC was freshman Carlos Cortes continued his recent offensive surge, going 5-for-14 with 4 RBIs. Up next is a home series against East Division-leader Kentucky.

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