A pitchers' duel took place in the opening game of its rivalry series against South Carolina on Friday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The only runs in the 2-0 game were scored by the Gamecocks with two outs in the top of the sixth, when Clemson’s K.J. Bryant misplayed a fly ball in right field, allowing Matt Williams and TJ Hopkins to run for home.
Clemson had 13 baserunners in the game, while South Carolina had only six, but the Tigers left 11 runners on base.
"We had our opportunities," said Clemson coach Monte Lee. "Four out of the first five innings, we had the leadoff guy reach base, and we were unable to score.
"I thought we played fairly well in a lot of areas. We just couldn't come up with the big hit with runners in scoring position, and we made a couple errors that cost us."
South Carolina starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt reached the 100-pitch mark in 5.2 innings, as he allowed four hits and seven walks. But the Gamecocks’ junior right-hander struck out five and forced the Tigers to ground into three double plays, including one by Bryant in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out.
"We thought the fourth inning was our opportunity right there to get Schmidt possibly out of the game," Lee said. "His pitch count was getting high, and we hit in the double play, and he did what good pitchers do — he hung in there even when he wasn't probably at his best."
Left-handed reliever Josh Reagan allowed just one hit in 2.1 scoreless innings for the Gamecocks. Right-handed closer Tyler Johnson earned the save with a scoreless ninth, which ended with a diving catch by Hopkins on a ball hit to center by Reed Rohlman with Seth Beer in the on-deck circle.
Clemson starting pitcher Charlie Barnes took his first loss of the year, but drew a standing ovation from the crowd after a 109-pitch, 7.1-inning performance in which he struck out seven while allowing only three hits, two walks and zero earned runs.
"Charlie did a great job," Lee said. "I don't know that he could have thrown any better ... it's just a little frustrating on my end that we couldn't help him more."
Five Clemson players had one hit each, including Chris Williams, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and lined a single to left field in his first plate appearance of the season. Williams, who missed the beginning of the Tigers’ season with a hand injury, said "it felt really good" to be back at the plate.
A crowd of 6,212 – 312 fans less than the record-setting attendance at last year’s rivalry game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium — was on hand for Friday night’s game despite chilly temperatures that dipped into the 40s.
The Reedy River Rivalry continues on Saturday at Fluor Field in Greenville, where first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Dan Hope, The Anderson Independent-Mail