Dantzlers walk-off in 12th continues South Carolinas postseason magic and Clemson heartache
COLUMBIA – Was it going to be any other way?
The fourth installment of the 2012 Clemson-South Carolina rivalry had three lead changes, went to extra innings and had hearts thumping for four hours, culminating with L.B. Dantzler’s game-winning double off of the right-field wall in the 12th inning giving South Carolina a 5-4 win.
To South Carolina went ideal position in tomorrow’s winner’s bracket game at 4 p.m. The Gamecocks added to their record NCAA winning streak, now standing at 18 straight tournament wins. It was South Carolina’s 24th straight tournament win at home.
To the loser, Clemson, went a considerable emotional blow, and an exhausted bullpen that must now meet a more rested Coastal Carolina team at noon Sunday in an elimination game. The winner of the 12 p.m. game will face South Carolina at 4 p.m.
Daniel Gossett and Michael Roth both pitched well but neither factored into the decision.
Gossett was in position for the win before the bullpen blew a ninth-inning lead, leaving with the lead after throwing seven innings, allowing just four hits, two runs, three walks while striking out eight.
The freshman used solid command of his 88-91 mph fastball to keep South Carolina batters honest and his breaking ball had sharp break, often prompting USC batters to swing over the top of it. Gossett induced 12 swings-and-misses of his 103 pitches, which is an excellent ratio.
Clemson coach Jack Leggett said after Friday’s win against Coastal Carolina he was unsure of who he would start against South Carolina. But with Brady limited to bullpen work and No. 2 starter Dominic Leone having struggled at Carolina Stadium in March, allowing six runs in 2 1/3 innings, it was not surprising to see the talented Gossett get the call Saturday.
In his previous three outings, Gossett had combined for a line of 17 1/3 innings pitched, 11 hits allowed, three runs, 13 walks and 16 strikeouts. The prize of Clemson’s last recruiting class has some of the most arm talent on the team as seen by his 16th round draft selection by the Boston Red Sox last June.
Roth, one of the best college pitcher’s in postseason history, entered with a 0.77 ERA against Clemson.
For most the afternoon it appeared to be just another day in which Michael Roth would create postseason magic.
Clemson squandered a rare opportunity against Roth with the bases loaded and nobody out in the second inning. Spencer Kieboom bounced into a fielder’s choice, which McGibbon prevented from becoming a double play with a slide into second. Clemson thought it had scored a run but umpires called interference on McGibbon and Pohl had to return to third due to the interference rule. Roth induced Felder to fly out to center to end the threat.
South Carolina then took advantage of a rare Gossett mistake as Adam Matthews launched a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the fourth to give USC a 2-0 lead.
Clemson didn’t get another chance against Roth until the seventh, and Clemson took advantage. Spencer Kieboom and Brad Felder reached on RBI singles and after a failed sac bunt attempt by Jason Stolz, Wilkerson scored Felder on an RBI double. Thomas Brittle followed with a game-tying RBI singled on Roth’s 111th pitch to tie the score.
Ray Tanner then summoned Matt Price into the game who thought he induced an inning-ending double play as he got Pohl to hit a sharp grounder to second but an errant Joey Pankake throw to first allowed Stolz to score from third to give Clemson a 3-2 lead.
Roth finished with a final line of 6 1/3 innings pitched, six hits and three runs allowed, four walks and one strikeout.
Felder, who made two stellar defensive plays, launched a solo home run in the eighth to give Clemson a 4-2 lead. Felder admired the shot and flipped his bat drawing words from USC first baseman Christian Walker.
Clemson relief ace Scott First entered and faced just two batters, the second being Christian Walker who ripped a RBI double to left to cut Clemson lead to 4-3. But Joseph Moorefield and Jonathan Meyer then came out of the Clemson bullpen in succession to end the threat.
After Meyer allowed the first two runners to reach in the ninth, Leggett summoned Kevin Brady into the game to secure the final two outs.
Brady allowed what looked like a game-winning single to Joey Pankake scoring one run but Chase Vergason was unable to touch home on his slide and was tagged out in the umpire’s box by Spencer Kieboom, creating a 4-4 tie and extra innings.