Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wrapping up the weekend, April 30

Series of the weekend
North Carolina sweeps Clemson, 3-0, (5-1, 5-4, 3-2 10 innings) in meeting of Top 5 teams
The results didn't go the way they wanted, but the Tigers' ACC series in Chapel Hill provided a taste of what Clemson (34-11, 16-8)  needs to improve on to succeed once the postseason arrives.

The Tigers scored first in all three games, but North Carolina (36-9, 19-5)  rallied each day to win in the late innings. Clemson struggled against the UNC pitchers, batting .200 (20-for-100) and scoring seven runs in 28 innings. Only one run came after the sixth.

North Carolina, by comparison, hit .240 but scored 10 of its 13 runs in the seventh inning or later.  The Tigers' bullpen was largely ineffective. Clemson starters allowed nine runs. Two of those runs were unearned and five more came when Tigers relievers allowed inherited runners to score. The bullpen allowed eight hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings.

UNC's bullpen allowed eight hits and no runs in 11 innings, contributing to the Tar Heels' 1.93 ERA for the series.

Clemson fell 2 1/2 games behind Louisville in the Atlantic Division standings with a head-to-head series coming up at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in May.

The Tigers take most of this week off for exams, then play a non-ACC home series with Nevada beginning on Saturday.

Game of the day
Presbyterian 2, Gardner-Webb 1, 10 innings

The Blue Hose (23-22, 11-7) scored an unearned run to take the rubber game of the series and remain in sole possession of third place in the Big South Conference. Connor Slagill have the Blue Hose a 1-0 lead with a second-inning homer. Gardner-Webb tied the score in the fourth, but that was all it could get off PC starter Hayden Deal, who allowed five hits and three walks but struck out eight in seven innings. In the 10th, Glen Casaceli was hit by a pitch and Brett Auckland followed with a single to left. After a pitching change, T.J. Richardson tried the bunt the runners over. The bunt to the third base side of the mound was so good that Richardson beat the throw, which went wild and allowed Casaceli to score the winning run.

Rising: Benedict scored 44 runs in sweeping a three-game series at Tuskegee to wrap up its SIAC regular-season schedule and, unoffically, clinch the second seed from the East Division for next weekend's conference tournament in Augusta, Ga.

Falling: South Carolina has gone 5-10 in SEC play since a 5-1 start to its league schedule.

Elsewhere across the state
* Furman (22-21, 10-8) climbed above .500 for the first time since March as it wrapped up a three-game sweep of The Citadel (12-29, 3-12) by winning 13-1. The game was halted after seven innings because of the Southern Conference's run rule for the final day of league series.  Furman, which has won nine straight conference games and 11 of 12 overall, hit .392 for the series with 5 doubles, 2 triples and 9 homers. Paladins pitchers had a 1.08 ERA and held The Citadel to a .198 batting average.

* Coastal Carolina (27-16-1, 13-7-1) won two straight games over Troy after being shut out in the opener of the Sun Belt Conference series. The Chanticleers did fall a game farther back of South Alabama (28-17, 15-6) in the East Division because the Jaguars swept Texas State over the weekend.

* Wofford (24-20, 9-6) survived a five-run ninth by East Tennessee State (20-22, 3-12) to win the rubber game of their SoCon series, 11-8.

* USC Sumter (28-27) advanced to the main draw of the NJCAA Region 10 playoffs with a 15-5 win at Louisburg on Sunday. The Fire Ants won the best-of-three series, 2-1, and will face top-seeded USC Lancaster in a first-round game next Saturday.
* College of Charleston (22-22, 12-6) was unable to complete a sweep of Elon, but remained a half-game behind Northeastern (22-18, 11-4)  in the CAA standings. The Cougars are a game and a half ahead of  UNC Wilmington and William & Mary (both 8-6) and two games up on Delaware and Elon (both 10-8)

* South Carolina (25-17, 10-11) has been plagued by ineffective relief work and anemic offense during its recent slide and it was more of the same in Sunday's 9-4 loss to Kentucky as the Gamecocks missed a chance for an SEC series victory over a Top 10 team. John Parke got the start as the trickle down effects of losing Friday ace Clark Schmidt to a season-ending injury. Coach Chad Holbrook, increasingly the target of ire on USC fan message boards, inserted some seldom-used players into the lineup of the second straight day and got some positive results. Ross Grosvenor hit his first career homer, slump-ridden John Jones hit his first homer since May 20 and the Gamecocks were tied at 4-4 after seven innings. But UK scored three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to pull away. With a series at LSU up next on the Gamecocks'  SEC schedule, expect the fans' howling to continue.

* Newberry (32-21) was eliminated from the South Atlantic Conference Tournament with a 12-5 loss to Carson-Newman. A six-run sixth for the Eagles wiped out a 4-2 Wolves lead and turned the game's momentum around. Newberry now must wait, probably nervously, to see it it's body of work is good enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

* North Greenville (38-15) went 1-2 in the Conference Carolinas Tournament, but may have done enough throughout the season to end an Division II playoff bid.

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