- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Grayson Greiner had a grand slam and five RBIs as South Carolina rallied past Clemson for a 9-6 victory Friday night to continue their dominance in the state rivalry.

The Gamecocks (8-0) trailed 6-1 in the fifth inning when the comeback began with Greiner’s shot to left with the bases full. An inning later, Greiner drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single deep in the hole at short that Tyler Krieger couldn’t handle.

“I was fortunate to get it out of the park and feel a little bit of energy back in the crowd,” Greiner said. “I think that was kind of the turning point momentum-wise, after we got that big hit everybody in the dugout thought we could come back and win it.”

Relievers Cody Mincey and Joel Seddon held Clemson to one hit the final 3 2-3 innings to keep the Gamecocks out front. Mincey (1-0) picked up his first college victory while Seddon got his second save of the year.

The comeback was just the latest instance of what Clemson followers must believe at this point to be a hex over their program. The Gamecocks have won 11 of the past 14 games with Clemson (6-2), including six straight at Carolina Stadium.

“That’s baseball,” said Clemson ace Daniel Gossett, who gave up five runs including Greiner’s big blast. “You can’t question it. You’ve just got to live to play the next day.”

The rivalry series, arguably the second biggest sport the Palmetto State schools compete at after football, continues Saturday at Fluor Field in Greenville, the minor league home of the Boston Red Sox South Atlantic League affiliate. It concludes Sunday at Clemson.

The Tigers entered this one hoping to gain the edge it has lost the past few years over South Carolina. The Gamecocks have won 11 of the last 14 games, 21 of the last 29 and six in a row at Carolina Stadium. That run has included ending Clemson’s season with two-game sweeps at the College World Series in 2010 and the NCAA tournament in 2012.

Shortstop Tyler Krieger believes the Tigers will rebound the next two contests. “I expect to win every game we play,” he said, “and I expect us to win tomorrow and Sunday and win this series.”

They won’t if they don’t find a way to get some timely hits.

Clemson seemed poised for a knockout blow when South Carolina starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery walked Steven Duggar and gave up a single to Steve Wilkerson to start the fifth. Montgomery then ranged to his right to field Jay Baum’s sacrifice bunt and threw wide of third to make it 6-1 and put runners on second and third with no outs.

Shaky-looking to that point, Montgomery righted himself and responded with consecutive strikeouts to Jon McGibbon, Weston Wilson and Tyler Slaton to end the threat.

South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said Montgomery’s gritty showing was the true turning point and kept the Gamecocks in it.

“We thought about going to get him and I’m glad we didn’t,” Holbrook said.

Greiner’s blast was his third homer of the year and South Carolina’s first grand slam since Greiner did it in April 2012 against Citadel. Tanner English hit his first homer of season and second of his career in the seventh to make it 8-6.

The Gamecocks came into the contest with a school record of five straight shutouts and 51 consecutive scoreless innings. That ended in the second when Clemson third baseman Wilson drove in Duggar to tie the game at 1-all.

Krieger had a bases-loaded double in the fourth and scored a batter later on catcher Garrett Boulware’s double to put Clemson ahead 5-1.

Clay Bates (0-1), the second of six Clemson pitchers, took the loss.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide