Missed Opportunities Cost Clemson in Extra Innings Loss to Gamecocks

South Carolina beat Clemson 3-2 with a walk-off hit in the 11th inning on Saturday in the first of three games the teams will play this season.

Add one more drama-filled chapter to what many already consider the best rivalry in all of college baseball.

South Carolina and Clemson squared off for the first time this season on Saturday at Fluor Field, and it turns out nine innings wasn't enough to decide this one, as the Gamecocks knocked off the Tigers 3-2 on a walk-off RBI single by Andrew Eyster in the bottom of the eleventh.

"They've got a great club, got a very potent offense," Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. "They just came up with the big hits when they needed to and unfortunately for us we were unable to."

The Tigers once again got strong performances from the pitching staff. Davis Sharpe, Mack Anglin, Rashesh Pandya, and Geoffrey Gilbert combined to strike out 21 South Carolina hitters while walking just three. 

"Davis Sharpe battled his butt off for us," Lee said. "He really competed for us tonight to give us a chance and then our bullpen again was just absolutely phenomenal. Certainly, our pitching staff gave us a chance to stay in the ballgame and if we do that on a consistent basis all year long, you really like the position that could put us in."

However, as strong as the pitching was, there were some missed opportunities for Clemson. The Tigers made multiple mistakes that cost them on Saturday, ranging from getting picked off, to stepping off the bag at an inopportune time, to failing to get a bunt down in a crucial situation.

The biggest missed opportunity might have come in the top of the eleventh after Dylan Brewer drew a leadoff walk. Bryar Hawkins ripped a single through the right side of the infield and Brewer inexplicably tripped halfway to third and would then retreat back to second base.

Instead of runners at the corners with no outs, the Tigers had runners at first and second. James Parker then grounded into a double play, with Jonathan French also grounding out to end the inning.

"We had some opportunities, had some tough luck," Lee said. "Brewer was trying to go first-to-third there in the eleventh on Hawkins base hit, tripped rounding second base. That was tough luck there. 3-2, ball four, you start the runner, umpire calls him out on ball four. Again, a tough situation."

"Again we had some tough luck, we didn't help ourselves. We didn't get a bunt down when we needed to. Just little things on the offensive side of things that we need to do a better job of."

The loss drops Clemson to 3-1 on the young season, while South Carolina improves to 5-0. The two teams will meet again tomorrow at Founder's Park in Columbia with the first pitch set for 1 p.m.