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March 2, 2014

Diamond Extra: English gets his revenge



CLEMSON, S.C.: Clemson left-hander Clate Schmidt expressed plenty of emotion while shutting out South Carolina in the seventh and eighth innings, and Tanner English and the Gamecocks enjoyed their revenge in the ninth.

With South Carolina down 3-1 in the eight inning and desperately needing to get something going on offense, Schmidt struck out English swinging for the first out. Then he struck out Elliott Caldwell and Max Schrock to retire the side, getting fired up as he led Clemson back into the dugout for the bottom of the frame.

English and the rest of the Gamecocks took notice.

"When pitchers do that, you kind of get a little chip especially as a hitter because you don't really like to see anyone do that to you," English said. "That's kind of why everyone was really champing at the bit to get back in the batter's box because we wanted another at-bat. We wanted another go at it."

English would get that chance when Schmidt returned to the mound for the ninth. With one out remaining, Brison Celek laced a single through the left side to load the bases. Mooney singled to center field a batter later to tie the game at 3-3 and bring English to the plate. And English redeemed himself in his second matchup with Schmidt, roping a double down the third base line to drive in South Carolina's fourth and fifth runs.

"I thought I was seeing him really well, so when Mooney got that hit, Celek got that hit, I was ready to get back in the box," said English, whose double secured the 5-3 win Sunday night. "It was a good feeling to get that hit."

SERIES MVP. Grayson Greiner was named South Carolina's series MVP after a weekend where he hit a grand slam to help the Gamecocks come back from a 6-1 deficit in game one; scored the tying run in the top of the ninth in game three; and went 4-10 with three walks, four runs scored and five RBI overall.

USC head coach Chad Holbrook was proud of how his junior catcher played in crunch time against Clemson.

"Grayson's a tough nut," Holbrook said. "He has courage. He has toughness, and he's a really good baseball player. He's a really good player. He's a guy you want up in a situation like that. A terrific performance all weekend by him."

Tanner English made a bid for the series MVP award himself by driving in the game-winning runs in the ninth inning, but said the award ended up in the right hands after the sweep.

"Gary hit that bomb and really got us back in it at home on Friday night," said English, who batted 4-13 with 5 RBI on the weekend. "He deserved it, every bit of it."

Holbrook said Greiner also contributes in ways most fans don't think about.

"What goes unnoticed is some of the things he does behind the plate for our pitchers," Holbrook said, adding that Greiner gives the pitchers a good target and frames pitches well. "He's a gifted player."


BURNING BRIGHT. Junior outfielder Connor Bright extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single to center field in the second inning. He added a double in the fifth and beat out an infield single in the seventh to finish the night 3-4.

STREAK ENDS FOR CROWE. It was a phenomenal start to his career, but freshman right-hander Wil Crowe finally gave up his first run when Steven Duggar singled up the middle in the first inning Sunday afternoon to score a runner from second.

Crowe had allowed just four hits while striking out 10 batters in 12 2/3 innings before the game. He got a no decision Sunday, allowing three runs off eight hits over 6 2/3 innings.


MOONEY COMES UP BIG. Tanner English wasn't the only player looking for redemption in the ninth inning.

With runners on second and third in the firth, Mooney chopped a comebacker to Clemson right-hander Jake Long, who turned on a swivel and fired to pick Greiner off at third. Despite putting five runners on base, the Gamecocks would plate just one run in the inning.

With runners on the corners in the seventh, Mooney grounded into an inning-ending double play. But faced with a similar scenario in the ninth, the sophomore shortstop didn't flinch.

Mooney strode to the plate with the Gamecocks down to their last out in the ninth, trailing 3-1. South Carolina again had runners in scoring position - this time with the bases loaded - and Mooney delivered, driving a first-pitch fastball into center field to tie the game at 3-3.

"I had two at-bats already with runners in scoring position, and I just did awful," Mooney said. "So I came up with my third at-bat, runners in scoring position. I was like alright, I need to put the ball somewhere in play where there's not a fielder."

As icing on the cake, Mooney got to watch at second base as Greiner scored the tying run.

"I got chills going all through my body," Mooney said.

GETTING THEM IN, PART 2. Though the numbers aren't as disproportionate as they were in Saturday's game, the statistics again show that South Carolina's ability to perform in pressure spots at the plate is translating to victory.

Clemson was better at the plate Sunday, batting .314 while the Gamecocks hit .278, but still managed to lose by two runs. Just as they did in Fluor Field, the Gamecocks were better at stringing hits together to score in bunches, as the numbers show here.

With two outs, South Carolina batted .385, while Clemson batted just .182.

With runners on, South Carolina batted .400 to Clemson's .313.

With runners in scoring position, South Carolina batted .400 to Clemson's .167.

With the bases loaded, South Carolina batted 1.000 while Clemson never loaded the bases.

It all translated to the Gamecocks leaving five men on base and Clemson leaving seven. Those two men turned out to be the difference.




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