Clemson entered Tuesday’s matchup with rival South Carolina in desperate need of a win.
The Tigers were looking to avoid being swept by the Gamecocks, were attempting to get back on track after going 0-3 at Georgia Tech over the weekend and had an opportunity to improve their NCAA Tournament resume against a top 25 club.
Clemson took care of business in impressive fashion, earning a much-needed 7-2 victory over South Carolina at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. With the win the Tigers improve to 23-21. USC falls to 28-18 with the loss.
“Great win for us tonight. Really did a good job in all areas. Threw the ball very well. Played good defensively and swung the bats really well,” Tigers coach Monte Lee said. “Overall it was great to get a win tonight against a really good South Carolina club.”
The meeting was the third and final one between the two rivals this season. The first two games of the series were played in February, with USC going 2-0 while earning wins in Greenville and Columbia. The other game in the series was moved to Tuesday night due to rain being in the forecast a few months back.
Both teams were low on pitching coming off of big weekend series, but the game was still scoreless through four.
South Carolina took the lead in the top of the fifth inning on a solo homer by Wes Clarke, but it didn’t last long.
The Tigers answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, despite producing only one hit. Clemson scored a pair of runs on an errant throw on a sac bunt, while James Parker delivered an RBI single to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Clemson added to its lead on an infield RBI single by J.D. Brock in the sixth.
South Carolina cut the lead to 4-2 on a solo homer by Jeff Heinrich in the eighth, but the Tigers put the game away with a three-run bottom half of the eighth.
Five Clemson pitchers combined to hold the Gamecocks to only two runs, including Carter Raffield and Davis Sharpe, who pitched 3 innings and 2 1/3 innings, respectively. P.J. Labriola earned the win for the Tigers, holding USC scoreless in 2/3 of an inning.
Up next the Tigers will play at Florida State this weekend. Clemson needs to play well as it attempts to keep its postseason hopes alive.
“I think we all know we’re fighting like crazy to get into the postseason. A win like this tonight certainly helps our case. We know we’ve still got work to do,” Lee said. “We’ve got to go down to Tallahassee, play a really good Florida State club now on the road, which is always a challenge. Then we’ve got Duke coming at home. Every game right now, quite honestly, it’s like a playoff game for us. We’re fighting every game to put ourselves into a position to get into the postseason.”