Gamecocks Rally Twice to Beat Clemson

GREENVILLE, S.C. — South Carolina rallied twice from big deficits to top Clemson, 11-9, Saturday at Fluor Field.

Clemson blew leads of 3-0 and 7-3, as the Gamecocks snapped the Tigers’ five-game winning streak in the series and evened the weekend series at one apiece. The rubber match will be Sunday in Columbia.

The Tigers walked six batters and hit four more, which all aided in South Carolina’s victory.

“Obviously, they have a dangerous offensive lineup and they showed why there in the later innings. All of their runs came late,” Clemson head coach Erik Bakich said.

Though his base running error cost USC in the bottom of the fifth inning, Carson Hornung was the big hero for the Gamecocks. His three-run home run to right field off Clemson’s Jay Dill in the bottom of the seventh inning gave USC the lead and all the momentum it needed to beat the Tigers.

The Gamecocks (10-1) added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the game away. Runs they needed after Clemson added two runs in the top of the ninth inning.  

Clemson (5-5) grabbed the lead in the top of the fifth inning, ending a 17-inning scoreless streak by South Carolina pitcher Noah Hall. Chad Fairey singled to right centerfield, allowing Benjamin Blackwell and Will Taylor to come home for a 2-0 lead.

The big play came on Taylor’s double to right field. After Blackwell’s lead-off single, Taylor hit a high arching ball down the right field line where Ethan Petry’s diving attempt to snag it for the Gamecocks bounced off his glove as he hit the ground.

On the next at-bat, Fairey drove both runners home. Cooper Ingle added to the Tigers’ lead a few moments later, scoring Fairey on a fielder’s choice to short for a 3-0 advantage. 

South Carolina loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom frame of the fifth, but Hornung was thrown out at home plate by Ingle after a wild pitch from reliver from Joe Allen.

Allen came in for Smith, who until loading the bases in the fifth pitched well. The freshman did not allow a run and gave up just two hits in 4 2/3 innings of work with five strikeouts and three walks.

“Early on, I thought it was a well-pitched game by both Tristian Smith and Noah Hall. Both pitchers did a good job of holding down two good teams,” Bakich said. “You would have never known through the first four innings that there would be twenty runs scored in the game.”

Clemson’s bullpen let the Tigers down in the bottom of the sixth. South Carolina tied the game with a three-run inning, which included a two-out RBI single from Talmadge LeCroy to left field with one out.

Clemson answered with four runs in the top of the seventh inning. Ingle had a hit through the right side to score Fairey. Blake Wright followed with a double down the left field line to plate Riley Bertram and Ingle.

Cam Cannarella got an RBI on a fielder’s choice for a 7-3 lead.

But again, the Tigers could not hold the lead. This time the Gamecocks scored on a Petry single and sacrifice fly from LeCroy before Hornung launched his three-run bomb to right field. Hornung’s home run gave USC its first lead of the day, 8-7. It was a lead it never gave up.   

Stat of the game: Clemson gave up just two hits in the first four innings but allowed all 11 runs off 10 hits over the next four innings.

Player of the Game: Horning was just 1-for-3 from the plate, but his three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh was the play of the game.

Key Moment: Trailing 7-5 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and two men on base, Hornung launched a bomb to right centerfield to give the Gamecocks an 8-7 lead at the time. Up next: Clemson and South Carolina will play Game 3 of their three-game series Sunday at Founders Park in Columbia. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m.

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