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Tigers win thriller against Gamecocks, claim series 2-1

David Perez, Photo Editor

Tigers celebrate their 8-7 win against South Carolina Sunday.

Clemson claimed the Reedy River Rivalry for the fourth year in a row on Sunday with an 8-7 walk-off win against South Carolina.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick lead thanks to a sole homerun from Patrick Cromwell, his second of the year, in the first inning.
The Tigers built their lead in the third inning. Logan Davidson led off the inning with a walk, his seventh walk of the series, to get the offense going. Cromwell stayed hot and hit a single to put two runners on for Chris Williams. Williams delivered with a RBI single to score Davidson and increase the lead to 2-0. Jolly later hit a grounder to third to score Cromwell and the Tigers found themselves up 3-0.
Clemson broke things open in the fourth, starting with a one-out double from Justin Hawkins, who got the start at second in place of Byrd. He later came around to score on a RBI double from Davidson. Cromwell stayed hot and hit a single to right to score Davidson and Seth Beer, giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
That was enough to chase Gamecock starter John Gilreath from this game. He pitched 3.2 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits. He also struck out five and walked three.
The Gamecocks cut into the Tiger lead in the top of the fifth with a three-run homerun from TJ Hopkins. Clemson starter Jake Higginbotham finished out the inning without anymore damage, but the lead was cut to 6-3.
Spencer Strider entered the game to pitch for the Tigers in the sixth inning. Higginbotham ended his outing with 5.0 innings pitched, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out three while walking two. 
In his first inning of work, Strider walked Jonah Bride and gave up a double to Jacob Olson to put runners on second and third with no outs. A groundout from Carlos Cortes scored Bride and cut the Clemson lead to 6-4. Strider was able to work out of the jam, but the Gamecocks had cut the 6-0 lead to 6-4.
“Want to give credit to Coach Mark Kingston, his staff and their team today. What an unbelievable job of fighting back,” Head Coach Monte Lee said after the game.
Clemson got the run right back in the bottom of the sixth when Davidson crushed a ball to right, his first homerun of the year. Davidson was named Clemson’s MVP of the series. He went 3-6, scored five runs, had two RBIs and drew eight walks in the series against the Gamecocks.
“Well it’s definitely an honor. They say it’s the greatest rivalry in college baseball because it is, and that played out this weekend,” Davidson said of his selection.
South Carolina put together some offense in the top of the eighth. Olson hit one down the line for a one-out double and later came around to score on an infield hit by Cortes after Jordan Greene slipped trying to make the play.
That prompted Clemson closer Ryley Gilliam to enter the game. South Carolina Head Coach Mark Kingston put Matt Williams in as a pinch hitter. Williams helped the Gamecocks win in Columbia Friday night when he had a pinch hit homerun to tie the game. This time, however, Williams grounded into a double play to end the inning.
In the ninth, Noah Campbell reached to leadoff the inning after an error on Jordan Greene, who entered the game in place of Hawkins. Gilliam then struck out Hopkins but walked Madison Stokes on a full count. L.T. Tolbert then hit a double to score Campbell and cut the lead to 7-6 with just one out and two runners in scoring position. Chris Cullen then hit a sac-fly to shallow center to score the tying run for the Gamecocks and advance the go-ahead run to third. Gilliam was able to get out of the inning, but the Gamecocks had rallied from 6-0 down to tie the game at 7-7.
In the bottom of the ninth, Robert Jolly drew a one-out walk and Drew Wharton hit a RBI triple off the wall in right to walk it off against the Gamecocks 8-7.
“Robert Jolly deserves a lot credit for drawing the walk right there. And Wharton, with two strikes on him, again great offensive approach, using the whole field, and we find a way to get a win,” Lee said. 
When asked whether he ever doubted if Jolly could score from first, Lee said, “Well I knew he was going to make it because the ball passed the right fielder twice. That’s one thing as an old outfield coach, we try to teach our guys when the ball is hit over your head don’t let the ball pass you twice.”
Wharton, when asked about his game winning at-bat said, “Honestly I don’t really remember much from the at-bat….I just stuck with my two-strike approach and I was ready for it when he threw it. It was kind of up and out and I put a good swing on it and was just praying Jolly had the wheels to get home and he did.”
Clemson is now 10-1 on the season and has won or swept all three of its weekend series while remaining perfect in midweek contests.
The Tigers’ next opponent is Wofford on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. They then travel to Fluor Field in Greenville to face Michigan State at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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