Clemson and South Carolina are, in addition to being very good baseball teams, bitter rivals. The two teams put on a show in front of a packed house in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday in their NCAA Tournament matchup, with USC pulling out the 5-4 victory in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Both teams won the first game of their regional, so this was not an elimination game, but it was still a massive game. Clemson now has to fight for their tournament life on Monday, while South Carolina gets a day off and only needs to win once more to advance to the Super Regionals.
Adam Matthews put USC up 2-0 with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 4th and his team held that lead into the 7th inning. Starter Michael Roth had a strong outing and carried a shutout through six innings, but gave up two runs and was responsible for the runner who scored the third in Clemson's big three-run 7th inning. They extended that lead to 4-2 in the 8th inning through a monster solo home run by Brad Felder, who had a great day. The Tigers' right fielder was 3-5 and and scored twice.
South Carolina chipped away at the lead in the 8th inning with a one-run double by Christian Walker, scoring Evan Marzilli to make it 4-3. They got off to a brilliant start in the bottom of the 9th, getting the lead runner on. Chase Vergason came up to bunt, but was walked. Dante Rosenberg came up next and put down a successful sacrifice, giving the Gamecocks runners at second and third with one out.
That brought up leadoff hitter Joey Pankake, who singled up the middle. Pinch runner T.J. Costen scored easily, tying the game, but there was a play at the plate as the potential winning run came in. Thomas Brittle's throw was off, but Vergason missed the plate with his slide, allowing Clemson catcher Spencer Kieboom to apply a tag, rescuing his team. Marzilli came up next and lined out, sending the game to extra innings.
Some good pitching got both teams out of jams multiple times in extras, but the home side finally came through in the bottom of the 12th inning. Pankake got on to start the inning and he executed a perfect hit and run with Marzilli on the next at bat, advancing to third base on a single up the middle. Walker couldn't drive him in, but L.B. Dantzler came through in the next at-bat, driving a deep ball that dropped at the warning track to score Pankake and give USC the win.