Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery struggled for the first time this season, but a fifth inning grand slam from Grayson Greiner sparked a South Carolina rally Friday night, and they went on to beat the Tigers 9-6 at Carolina Stadium.
The Gamecocks took an early lead as they capitalized on an error by Clemson catcher Garrett Boulware in the first inning. With Boulware unable to wrangle the ball, Max Schrock made it to first, later advanced to second on a wild pitch, and came home on an RBI single from Kyle Martin.
The lead was short-lived, though. After Montgomery walked Jon McGibbon (who has just one hit so far this season), Weston Wilson tied the game with a single. The run ended the Gamecocks' streak of innings without allowing a run at 52, but Montgomery bounced back with a strikeout to get out of the inning without any further damage.
They stayed knotted at 1-1 until the fourth inning, when Clemson broke things open. After Montgomery walked two batters and a questionable call loaded the bases for the Tigers, Tyler Krieger roped a bases-clearing double that put his team up 4-1. Boulware smacked a double off the wall in left field to make it 5-1 before USC got out of the inning with a fly out.
After increasing their lead to 6-1, Clemson clearly had all of the momentum in the game, but the Gamecocks brought the crowd back to life in the fifth. After Montgomery worked his way out of a jam by striking out the side in the top of the inning, Greiner sent a bomb over the wall in left field for the second grand slam of his career. That brought USC within one run and gave them a boost they desperately needed.
The Tigers struggled in the sixth inning and the Gamecocks took advantage, tying the game and then retaking the lead. Elliott Caldwell and Schrock started things off with back-to-back singles, then Martin walked to load the bases. Connor Bright hit into a fielder's choice, but it brought Caldwell across the plate to make it 6-6. Greiner came through again, tallying another RBI as he hit a ball straight to Krieger, who couldn't field it cleanly.
Montgomery was markedly off tonight, struggling with his command in every inning. He worked 5.1 innings and allowed seven hits, six runs, walked five batters, and struck out nine. Cody Mincey took over on the mound and tossed 2.2 innings and earned the win, his first of the season. Joel Seddon got the final three outs of the game and got his second save.
Can't say I'm surprised by a @GamecockBasebll win against Clemson— Michael Roth (@mtRoth29) March 1, 2014
Clemson starter Daniel Gossett was sharp for the first four innings, but the wheels came off for him in the fifth. Gossett lasted 4.2 innings and surrendered seven hits, five runs, walked three batters, and struck out eight.
The Gamecocks improve to 8-0 while the Tigers drop to 6-2. The two teams will meet again tomorrow afternoon at Fluor Field in Greenville and the first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.