Stunner at The Joe: Bulldogs pull off upset of third-ranked Gamecocks
The Citadel 2, No. 3 South Carolina 0
Third-ranked South Carolina was without two starters and looking forward to a weekend showdown with No. 1 Vanderbilt when the Gamecocks hit Riley Park on Tuesday night.
But coach Ray Tanner said none of that mattered much in the face of the best pitching performance of 18-year-old Logan Cribb's life.
In his first college baseball start, the freshman from Rock Hill shut out the defending national champions for eight innings, and reliever T.J. Clarkson escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth as The Citadel stunned the defending national champions, 2-0, before 5,032 fans.
Cribb, a left-hander whose fastball tops out in the low 80s, kept the Gamecocks off balance, allowing eight hits (seven of them singles), walking three and striking out three while throwing 120 pitches to even his record at 1-1.
"He just did a super job," said Tanner, whose 26-6 team hit into a double play and stranded 11 runners. "We hit too many balls in the air, but that was probably by design on his part. We took some pretty good swings, but we didn't get much to show for it. It was an incredible performance by Logan Cribb."
Cribb, who lowered his ERA from 4.70 to 3.09 in one night, said that with the wind blowing in at
Riley Park, he didn't want to give USC anything free. He didn't walk a batter until the seventh.
"We had the wind in our favor, so I was just trying to get the ball in the strike zone and let them hit it," said Cribb, who pitched 2 2/3 innings in The Citadel's 6-4 loss at USC on March 30. "You just have to stay calm out there. You just have to worry more about the strike zone than who's batting or who you are playing."
Cribb gave up a single and a walk to start the ninth, and reliever Jeremy Long walked another batter to load the bases with no outs. Clarkson struck out pinch-hitter Michael Roth and got Pete Mooney to pop up and Scott Wingo to ground out to finish off The Citadel's first shutout of USC since a 2-0 win on April 28, 1971.
"TJ came in about as tough a situation as you can and got us out of it," said Citadel coach Fred Jordan, whose 13-20 team was without center fielder Nick Orvin and closer Drew Mahffey. "I am just glad we didn't have to see Jackie Bradley Jr. again."
The USC star was 0 for 4, and only catcher Brady Thomas (4 for 4) had more than one hit for the Gamecocks, who were without starting outfielder Jake Williams and third baseman Adrian Morales. Williams was suspended indefinitely Tuesday for an violation of team rules, while Morales sat with a sore wrist.
"That didn't help, but I don't know if it made any difference," Tanner said. "Logan Cribb would have gotten those guys out, too."
The Citadel scratched out single runs in the first and fourth, Brad Felder leading off the game with a single and scoring on Matt Simonelli's groundout. In the fourth, William Ladd singled and scored on Justin Mackert's single to left.
The Citadel could have made it 3-0 in the seventh, but shortstop Mooney gunned down Hughston Armstrong at the plate when he tried to score from first on Felder's double over the head of center fielder Bradley.
--USC's Jake Williams, a junior batting .286 with two homers and 18 RBI, might not return to the lineup any time soon, judging from Tanner's demeanor after the game.
"It's very unfortunate," Tanner said of Williams' suspension. "I'm very disappointed. We didn't need that situation to arise, but that's the way it is."