March 1, 2014

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CBI Live
Seddon Helps South Carolina Clinch Series

By John Whittle

Special to

(photo by Ryan Bethea)


GREENVILLE, S.C. – South Carolina clinched the series and won for the 12th time in 15 games against Clemson with a 10-2 thumping on Saturday afternoon at Fluor Field.


The Gamecocks (9-0) scored five runs, four unearned, in the top of the third inning, five more in the top of the ninth and used a shutdown relief performance from junior Joel Seddon (pictured) to take another rivalry series.


The Tigers (6-3) have dropped 22 of the past 30 games in the series and the past two have come in part due to their own mistakes. Four errors and eight walks plagued coach Jack Leggett’s club and the Gamecocks took advantage of every opportunity. South Carolina scored six unearned runs in the game, and frustrations ran high at the end when a hard slide into third base caused a shouting match and a lot of finger-pointing between the two teams.


“They’re an explosive team,” Leggett said. “If you give them an opening, give them an extra out over the course of an inning, it can cost you. It cost us in the third inning and cost us at the end.”


A day after committing four errors in a 9-6 loss to the Gamecocks, two Tigers errors opened the floodgates in the top of the third inning. Second baseman Steve Wilkerson booted a ground ball to begin the inning that started the rally, which saw the Gamecocks score five runs on five hits.


Sophomore Marcus Mooney’s two-out single plated a pair of runs and gave his team a 4-0 lead. Junior Tanner English’s push bunt for a single chased Clemson starter Matthew Crownover with two outs in the top of the third inning.


Crownover allowed five runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks. He struck out three on 56 pitches over 2.2 innings. The left-hander picked up the loss, dropping his record to 2-1 on the season.


“It’s such a fine line. We’re evenly matched,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “We have some really good players in our dugout and they do as well. The ball has bounced our way, so to speak.”


Clemson scratched across a run in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings off South Carolina starting pitcher Jack Wynkoop to cut its deficit to 5-2. Junior Jay Baum notched an RBI single to open the scoring for the Tigers. Freshman Chris Okey registered a run-scoring ground out for his team-leading 12th RBI of the year.


Tigers sophomore Zack Erwin kept his team in the game after coming in to relieve Crownover. The left-hander didn’t encounter major trouble in 5.1 innings, allowing three hits and struck out seven. He did, however, walk the first two hitters of the ninth inning before leaving the game and was charged with two earned runs.


The Tigers were within striking distance and had the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out. Closer Joel Seddon, who entered the game with a runner on base and no outs in the inning, coaxed an easy double play ball that was botched by Mooney.


After a walk loaded the bases, Seddon struck out junior Steven Duggar and Wilkerson - the third inning error culprits - to end the inning and preserve the lead. The Tigers wouldn’t threaten again as the Gamecocks clinched the season series.


“We just couldn’t quite get the big hit when we needed it,” Leggett said. “Our golden opportunity was when we had the bases loaded with one out and came up dry there. If we scratch something across there, maybe things are a little different for us. We have to go back to work tomorrow and that’s all there is to it.”


Seddon finished the game allowing two walks and striking out two over the final three innings. He picked up his third save of the season in as many opportunities. Saturday was the first time he allowed a base runner in 5 innings on the season.


“Joel has been terrific,” Holbrook said. “He’s a veteran, he’s older, been in the program and knows what’s going on. He’s got good stuff and he’s a tough nut. It’s what you want in the back of the bullpen.”


South Carolina added plenty of insurance runs in the top of the ninth when junior Connor Bright lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Schrock. DC Arendas and Mooney worked bases-loaded walks.


Wilkerson made Clemson’s fourth and final error when he took a routine ground ball off the chest that allowed two runs to score. As Leggett protested Arendas being called safe at the plate, Okey threw to third base to nail Mooney for the final out of the inning.


Baum, Clemson’s third baseman, stood over the top of Mooney taunting him before coaches and players joined umpires in restoring order.


“It’s Clemson and South Carolina,” Holbrook said. “Emotions are going to get high from time to time.”


South Carolina will start freshman Wil Crowe while Clemson will counter with junior Jake Long in Sunday’s series finale at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C.