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March 6, 2010

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Post-Game Blog: 1-2 Punch Knocks Out Tigers

South Carolina vs. Clemson – Game 3 Preview

Coach Tanner
Whit Merrifield
Jackie Bradley, Jr.

GREENVILLE, SC – Three two-out RBI hits from Whit Merrifield, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kyle Enders were part of a three-run ninth inning as 15th ranked South Carolina rallied from an early four-run deficit to defeat ninth ranked Clemson 7-5 on Saturday afternoon at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. Carolina improves to 6-3 on the year while the loss drops Clemson to 8-1 for the season. With the two teams splitting the first two games of the series, it sets the stage for the rubber game on Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium with first pitch at 2 p.m. Live video broadcast is available at with the game also being broadcast on the Gamecock Radio Network.

Trailing 4-0 after the first two innings, the Gamecocks fought back with a pair of runs in the third, a run in the fifth, a run in the seventh and three runs in the ninth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. connected first for the Gamecocks with a two-run homer in the third inning, followed by a RBI base hit in the fifth inning. Merrifield would tie the game in the seventh with a two-out RBI single and then helped start the three-run ninth inning with a RBI double to right center to plate the go ahead run. Bradley followed with his fourth RBI of the game, a RBI single to score Merrifield and after a walk to Christian Walker; the Gamecocks would gain a three-run cushion on Kyle Enders’ RBI single to score Bradley.

The bottom of the ninth was not without its tense moments though as Chris Epps doubled with two outs and scored on a RBI base hit from Mike Freeman. With Jeff Schaus at the plate as the potential tying run, Gamecock reliever Michael Roth closed the game out as he got Schaus to fly out to right field to end the game and preserve a Gamecock victory.

Gamecock reliever Matt Price earned the win after an inning of relief with two strikeouts and a run allowed. He is 1-0 on the year. Clemson reliever Tomas Cruz suffered the loss after he worked 1.2 innings and allowed one run on one hit with a strikeout and walk. He is 1-1 for the season. Roth earned a save with the final out recorded in the ninth inning.

South Carolina finished with a 9-8 advantage in hits. Bradley was 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBI. Merrifield went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI and also extended his hitting streak that began last season to 23 games, two short of the school record. Epps and Freeman each had two hits apiece for the Tigers.

Clemson had the early advantage and took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Epps led off with a single and advanced to third on a base hit by Freeman. Schaus drove in Epps with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

Clemson added to the lead with three runs in the second inning. Brad Miller drove a double off the “Green Monster” in left field and scored on Richie Shaffer’s RBI base hit up the middle. After a walk to John Nester gave the Tigers a pair of runners, Jason Stolz set down a sacrifice bunt to put Shaffer and Nester into scoring position. The Tigers then caught a break as a balk was charged to Gamecock starter Sam Dyson that scored Shaffer followed by a wild pitch strikeout to Chris Epps that scored Nester from third to home.

Trailing 4-0, the Gamecocks started the rally with a pair of runs in the third inning. Merrifield drew a one-out walk that was followed by a two-run homer by Jackie Bradley Jr., his first round tripper of the season. Bradley stroked a 2-2 pitch from Lamb that cleared the “Green Monster” in left field, cutting the Gamecocks deficit to two runs.

Dyson then settled in on the mound for Carolina as he did not allow another run. His final line read as 5.2 innings, five hits allowed, four runs with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Carolina crept to within a run in the top of the fifth as Bradley again came through with a RBI base hit. This time, his two-out single scored Bobby Haney as he poked a base hit into centerfield.

Clemson starter Will Lamb would be relieved in the sixth inning. He went 5.1 innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits with four walks and a strikeout. The game was tied in the seventh inning as Adrian Morales singled to open the inning and scored on Merrifield’s single to left field.

Gamecock reliever Jimmy Revan also factored in for the Gamecocks as he hurled two scoreless innings of relief with just one hit and one walk allowed and four strikeouts. The Gamecock pitching staff finished with 13 strikeouts and just three walks allowed.

South Carolina is now 4-0 in games played at Fluor Field with three victories vs. Furman (2006, 2008, and 2009) and now one over Clemson (2010)