College Baseball Roundup: Clemson Digs the Long Ball

Clemson and South Carolina athletes have never been very fond of each other.

That’s particularly true on the baseball diamond, where both programs have enjoyed times of great success.  And with the spotlight Friday on the state’s favorite early-season series, the Tigers claimed the early advantage with an 11-4 romp over the Gamecocks.

Fueled by the long ball, Coach Jack Leggett‘s Clemson crew jumped out to a quick lead with a 4-run 1st inning and rolled from there, adding another 4-spot in the 3rd and then pulling away again after South Carolina managed to close the gap to 8-4 in the 5th.  In doing so, Clemson won its 5th straight game and ended South Carolina’s 6-game winning streak.  Both teams are now 6-2.

The Tigers opened with a bang, as Tyler Kreiger and Chris Okey delivered RBI singles in the first ahead of Chase Pinder‘s 2-run triple for a 4-0 advantage.  Clemson doubled the lead to 8-0 in the 3rd when Okey drilled a 3-run shot over the left-center fence and Weston Wilson followed with a solo bomb to right-center.  All 8 early runs came off normally reliable Gamecock starter Wil Crowe.

“I thought we played really well tonight,” said Leggett. “We had a great approach going into the game and had really good focus. I could tell when the kids showed up today they had a purpose in mind and they were well prepared. We got some punches in early, which was big.”

Connor Bright pushed South Carolina back into it with a 3-run homer in the 4th and a fielder’s choice RBI in the 5th, but Wilson added another 3-run jack to left in the bottom of the 7th to ice the contest for Clemson.  Okey and Wilson each had 4 RBI for the winners, while Kreiger went 3-for-4 and scored 3 times and Steven Duggar also scored 3 runs with a hit and two walks.  Matthew Crownover gained the win with a 5-inning start, yielding the 4 Gamecock runs, and Alex Schnell came out of the bullpen with 4 scoreless frames to gain his 1st save of the year.

Wilson, who now has 3 homers in his last 2 games, was especially excited about his 7th-inning homer that sealed the triumph.

“Okey came up to me before that at-bat and said this is what we came to Clemson for,” Wilson said.  “He said I know I might make an out, but if I do (Okey struck out swinging to precede Wilson’s HR), I know you’ve got my back, and I guess that’s what happened.”

The series resumes Saturday at Fluor Field in Greenville.  In other collegiate action around the country Friday…

Mississippi State (10-0) 4, Arizona (9-3) 2: The Bulldogs moved to 10-0 for the 5th time in school history, overcoming an early 1-0 deficit when Jake Vickerson and Josh Lovelady drew consecutive bases-loaded walks in the 3rd.  John Holland delivered a sacrifice fly RBI in the 6th and Vickerson added an RBI single in the 7th to complete the Bullies’ offense.  Big first baseman Wes Rea returned to the lineup for MSU and drew 3 walks, scoring 2 of the team’s 4 runs.  Preston Brown won his 3rd straight start by scattering 3 hits and striking out 7 over 6 innings before the reliable bullpen duo of Ross Mitchell and Trevor Fitts finished up, with Fitts earning his 4th save.

Central Florida (9-0) 5, Ole Miss (5-3) 4: The Knights remained unbeaten, scoring 5 times over the final 4 innings to rally from a 4-0 deficit.  The game-winner came on a 2-out walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th when JoMarcos Woods followed a double by James Vasquez with the decisive hit.  Shortstop Dylan Moore had 2 hits, scored twice, and contributed an RBI to the Knights’ cause.

Stanford (5-4) 5, Rice (6-4) 3: The Cardinal struck for 4 runs in the 1st and made them stand up as Cal Quantrill tossed 7 solid innings and Colton Hock closed with 2 perfect frames to complete the upset.  Designated hitter Mikey Diekroeger smacked 3 hits and knocked in 3 runs for Stanford, which also received 3 safeties from Matt Winaker.  Catcher John Clay Reeves drove in all 3 Rice tallies in the contest.

Oregon (9-1) 5, UC Santa Barbara (7-2) 1: Conor Harber extended his scoreless inning streak to 16 with 5 shutout frames from the bullpen and Brandon Cuddy‘s 2-run single in the 8th broke a 1-1 deadlock as the Ducks topped the Gauchos in a battle of Top 25 teams.  Matt Eureste had 3 hits, scored a run, and drove another in for Oregon.

Illinois (7-0-1) 1, Ball State (4-3) 0: Southpaw Kevin Duchene struck out 9 hitters over 7 shutout innings and Casey Fletcher singled in Ryan Nagle with the game’s only run in the 4th as the Illini remained undefeated.  Nick Blackburn and Tyler Jay contributed a perfect frame of relief apiece to preserve the victory.

LSU (8-1) 3, Princeton (0-1) 2: The Tigers won their 5th straight as Jared Poche’ went to 3-0 with 6.2 innings of strong pitching and Jake Fraley and Conner Hale delivered RBI singles… Vanderbilt (7-2) 16, Illinois State (4-3) 1: The top-ranked Commodores scored 5 in the 3rd and 10 in the 6th to down the Redbirds.  Carson Fulmer (2-0) struck out 8 of the 1st 9 men he retired and finished with 11 Ks over 6 innings.  Rhett Wiseman was 4-for-5 and scored twice and Bryan Reynolds, Will Toffey, and Penn Murfree each drove in 3 runs… Florida (8-1) 1, Stony Brook (2-5) 0: J. J. Schwarz slammed a 6th-inning double that scored Harrison Bader (3-for-4) with the game’s only run as the Gators delivered Coach Kevin O’Sullivan‘s 300th win.  Logan Shore (2-0) and Bobby Poyner combined to scatter 3 hits in the shutout triumph.

North Carolina (6-2) swept a doubleheader from Rhode Island (0-5) when an RBI single by Tyler Ramirez in the 7th inning of the nightcap broke a 3-3 deadlock and led to a 5-3 win.  The Tar Heels claimed the opener 4-3 behind 7 shutout frames from Benton Moss (2-0), who whiffed 10 and received relief help from Trent Thornton‘s 1st save… Miami (7-3) 8, Wright State (4-3) 7: Designated hitter Garrett Kennedy, who entered the game in the 7th as a pinch-hitter, belted a 2-run walkoff homer to complete a big comeback for the Hurricanes and make a winner of Cooper Hammond (2-1), who tossed 2 innings of perfect relief.

Virginia (8-0) 5, Hartford (2-2) 1: Matt Thaiss slammed a 2-run homer and Nathan Kirby (3-0) hurled 6 shutout frames of 10-strikeout ball to keep the Cavaliers undefeated… UCLA (8-1) 14, Michigan State (3-4) 2: Chris Keck drilled his 4th homer and drove in 4 runs and Luke Persico was 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs to make a winner of James Kaprielian (3-0), who lasted 7 innings… Houston (7-2) 3, Columbia (0-1) 0: Andrew Lantrip (3-0) scattered 5 hits over 7.2 frames and Chris Iriart went 2-for-3 and knocked in a run for the victorious Cougars… Maryland (6-1) 4, Appalachian State (3-4) 2: Mike Shawaryn (3-0) struck out 12 in 7 innings of 2-hit ball and Jose Cuas jacked a 3-run bomb in the 3rd as the Terrapins recorded the win.

Texas A&M (10-0) 4, Dartmouth (0-1) 3: Hunter Melton and Logan Taylor both drilled 2-run HRs in the bottom of the 8th to erase a 3-0 deficit and give the Aggies the triumph to remain unbeaten.  A&M has already hit 15 homers as a team in 2015… Cal State Bakersfield (5-6) 7, Arizona State (6-4) 4: CSUB broke a 4-4 tie in the 9th, scoring on a wild pitch and an infield error to break a 15-game losing streak against ranked opponents.  Joey Sanchez had 3 hits and scored 3 runs for the winners, who also defeated Gonzaga (5-6) 6-4 earlier in the day as David Metzgar went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs and Logan Trowbridge homered.  Arizona State rebounded later in the day to blast Purdue (4-6) 15-5 as R. J. Ybarra went 4-for-4, scored 4 times, and knocked in 2 runs.

Alabama (7-2) 6, Louisiana-Lafayette (4-5) 4: J. C. Wilhite blooped a run-scoring single to right to break an 8th-inning tie and keep the Tide rolling.  Georgie Salem had a single and double, scored a run, and knocked another one in for Bama, and Ray Castillo collected the win with 2 perfect frames of relief… Tulane (9-1) 8, Creighton (4-2) 2: 7 shutout innings from Corey Merrill and homers from Lex Kaplan and Garrett Deschamp led the red-hot Green Wave to another victory… South Florida (5-3-1) 2, High Point (1-5) 1: Jimmy Herget lowered his ERA to 0.96 with 6 scoreless innings and Kevin Merrell ripped a 2-run double in the 6th to pace the Bulls.

Southern Cal (10-0) 3, Fordham (1-6) 2: The undefeated Trojans prevailed when Reggie Southall crashed a 3-run, 8th-inning home run, the first of his career, to support a strong pitching outing from USC starter Brent Wheatley (7 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 11 Ks)… Georgia Tech (6-3) 1, Indiana State (3-4): Jonathan King yielded just 1 hit over 6.1 scoreless innings and DH A. J. Murray hammered his 3rd dinger of the season for the game’s only run in the 5th… Notre Dame (8-1) 6, Belmont (2-3) 4: The Irish notched their 7th straight win as Ryan Bull homered, went 2-for-3, and drove home 2 runs… Florida State (6-3) 4, UNC-Wilmington (6-1) 3: The Seminoles handed UNCW its first loss of the season as Alec Byrd struck out 8 in 4.1 relief innings and D. J. Stewart homered in the 7th to break a 3-3 deadlock.

Stetson (6-4) 9, Penn (0-1) 0: The Hatters’ Adam Schaly threw 7 shutout innings and Patrick Mazeika went 3-for-3 with a solo HR… Michigan (4-5) swept a doubleheader from Siena (1-8) as Travis Maezes crashed a 3-run bomb to pace the 6-2 win in the opener and Eric Jacobson had 2 hits and 2 RBIs to back the shutout pitching of Keith Lehmann and T. J. Shook as the Wolverines captured the nightcap 6-0… Georgia Southern (6-4) 4, Georgia (6-2) 3: GSU surprised the Bulldogs as Aaron Mizell delivered a 2-run double in the 7th for the decisive hit.

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