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March 8, 2011

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By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director

GREENVILLE, S.C. – South Carolina scored five runs in their final two at-bats and held off a furious Clemson rally in the ninth to earn a 5-4 victory in the Reedy River Rivalry game before a crowd of 7,125 at Fluor Field on Tuesday night.

With the win, South Carolina (9-1) earns a victory in the season series against the Tigers, getting a 6-3 win on Friday night in Columbia and falling by a 10-6 count on Sunday at Clemson (7-3). The Gamecocks have won four out of five against the Tigers and 14 of the last 20 in the series.

The Gamecocks got four runs in the seventh after struggling offensively through the first six innings. A leadoff walk to Christian Walker led to a sacrifice bunt from Brady Thomas, moving Walker to second. A single from Adrian Morales put runners at the corners with one out, and then Peter Mooney hit a high chopper to first that was mishandled by the first baseman, scoring Walker to tie the game at 1-1.

Junior Jake Williams then made the most of a pinch-hit opportunity, blasting a three-run home run – the first of his Carolina career – over the “Green Monster” in left field scoring Morales and Mooney to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the game at 4-1.

With one out in the eighth, junior Jackie Bradley Jr. poked one through the right side and stretched it into a double after the right fielder hesitated on his throw back to the infield. That led to Walker ripping a base hit up the middle to score Bradley from second and give the Gamecocks a 5-1 lead. Walker would then steal second and move to third on a groundout, and a walk to Morales would put runners at the corners, but the threat for more runs ended when Mooney hit a hot shot to right field but directly to the fielder to end the inning.

Clemson would not go quietly in the ninth. Brad Miller and Jeff Schaus led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and a walk to Richie Shaffer loaded the bases with no out, leading to a call to the bullpen for Friday starter Michael Roth. However, Roth would give up a single to the only batter he faced as John Hinson drove in Miller to make it 5-2. Closer Matt Price would then relieve Roth, inducing a 4-6-3 double play that scored Schaus from third to make it 5-3 with two out. Clemson center fielder Will Lamb then laced one into the right field corner for an RBI triple, cutting the deficit to 5-4 and putting the tying run 90 feet away. But Price would bear down and catch pinch-hitter Jon McGibbon looking at strike three to end the ballgame.

The first six innings were a pitchers’ duel as Carolina’s Adam Westmoreland allowed just one run on four hits through 5.1 innings, and Tiger starter David Haselden hurled six shutout innings while striking out five. The Tigers’ lone run in the first eight innings came on a solo home run by Shaffer in the fourth.

Freshman Forrest Koumas (1-0) earned his first collegiate victory, pitching 2.1 innings of strong relief as he struck out three of the nine batters he faced, giving up three runs on three hits. Price earned his fourth save of the season, giving up just one hit and striking out one. Clemson’s Alex Frederick (0-1) was charged with the loss as he surrendered three earned runs on two hits while facing just two batters in the seventh.

Offensively, the Gamecocks were led by Bradley, Morales and Mooney with two hits apiece. Walker’s RBI single in the eighth extended his hitting streak to 15 games, dating back to last season’s College World Series.

Williams earned the Tom Price Award as the South Carolina MVP of the 2011 Carolina-Clemson series. The Bob Bradley Award for the Clemson MVP went to catcher Spencer Kieboom.

The Gamecocks will return to Carolina Stadium on Wednesday night to host Davidson. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.