Just when you thought the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry couldn't get more emotional, tensions ratcheted up to a fever pitch this weekend. South Carolina took offense when Clemson coach Jack Leggett questioned Jackie Bradley's bat after a home run Sunday, and the Gamecocks bristled more when Clemson's Will Lamb called South Carolina lefthander Tyler Webb "soft" after the game.
Due to Saturday's rain postponement, the Gamecocks had a day to stew before the finale was played Tuesday in Greenville. Starters David Haselden (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) of Clemson and Adam Westmoreland (5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) both pitched well in no-decisions, but the Gamecocks surged ahead on Jake Williams' pinch-hit three-run homer in the seventh. Clemson battled back with three runs in the ninth, but Gamecocks closer Matt Price struck out pinch-hitter Jon McGibbon with the tying run at third base to close out a 5-4 win. The Gamecocks have now won 14 of their last 20 against Clemson, but Tuesday's victory was among the most emotional. The Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mail provides a great overview of the entire controversy; here are a few highlights from Tanner's postgame press conference:
"The whole thing was a bunch shenanigans,” Tanner said. “I don’t think that’s what this rivalry should be about. It’s two very good baseball teams at the collegiate level playing against each other. That’s where it should start and that’s where it should end. That’s the way I feel."
"(Leggett) called the bat out. I guess when (Clemson’s Richie) Shaffer hit one 600 feet (Tuesday) I should’ve gone out there. I didn’t appreciate it, I’m offended by it. I don’t cheat. I don’t allow my players to cheat. I haven’t done anything wrong. I felt like we were called out a little bit.”
“I don’t appreciate what Will Lamb said about one of my pitchers. He’s entitled to say whatever he wants to say. I don’t appreciate it. My players didn’t like it.”
“Our guys are not very happy they got called out. I don’t think that’s part of the game and we tried to come in here and play aggressive and play with emotion. It’s not something we want to do all the time but I’m proud of our players.”
“I don’t think it’s what it was, there’s no question about it,” Tanner said about his relationship with Leggett. “I’m not happy with the situation and maybe nobody cares. That’s fine, but I just don’t think what happened was appropriate. I don’t think it’s what this rivalry is about.”
Here are some other highlights from Tuesday's action:
• No. 1 Florida lost its second straight midweek game, 7-0 against Georgia Southern. Chris Beck, Josh Adams and Matt Murray held the Gators to just three hits while striking out 11, and Florida's defense committed four errors. The loss snapped Florida's school-record 24-game home winning streak.
• Oregon's offensive woes continued in a 4-1 loss to rival Oregon State. Tony Bryant and Matt Boyd limited the Ducks to three hits over 4.2 shutout innings of relief to nail down the victory. OSU improved to 10-3, while Oregon dropped to 5-7.
• Cole Green rebounded from a rough Saturday outing with four innings of one-hit ball against Texas-San Antonio, striking out nine without issuing a walk. The Longhorns won 8-5 on Tant Shepherd's walk-off three-run homer in the 11th.
• Sam Houston State improved to 11-2 with a 7-0 win against Rice, as Cody Dickson and Justin Jackson combined on a five-hitter.
• Purdue also continued its hot start, toppling Louisville 6-4 behind 8.2 strong innings from Joe Haase. The Boilermakers improved to 9-2.
• UC Irvine beat No. 19 Connecticut, 5-4. After UConn tied the game in the top of the eighth, Irvine's Drew Hillman hit a towering double off the left-field wall in the bottom of the frame and scored the winning run on Sean Madigan's RBI double.
• California's bats woke up after a rough weekend in San Diego, erupting for 21 hits in a 20-5 win over Santa Clara. Tony Renda led the onslaught, going 5-for-5 with a double, a homer, three runs and six RBIs for Cal.
• Kennesaw State catcher Ronnie Freeman extended the nation's longest hitting streak to 41 games, but Georgia Tech beat the Owls 7-4. Luke Bard threw four shutout, one-hit innings for the save.
• Fresno State beat Cal State Bakersfield, 9-2, to stop the Roadrunners' winning streak at 10 games. Last year's national home run leader, Jordan Ribera, hit his first long ball of the year for the 9-1 Bulldogs.
• MIami needed 11 innings to beat Illinois State, 5-4, to snap its four-game losing streak in coach Jim Morris' return to the dugout. Morris had missed the previous six games after having surgery to remove his gall bladder, and a subsequent infection.
• Georgia earned a big win against Mercer, 8-6, behind four hits from JOnathan Hester. The Bulldogs improved to 4-8. "Tonight was a big win for the team because we wanted to come through for J.T. (Johnathan Taylor)," Georgia coach David Perno said, referencing the Bulldogs outfielder who suffered a serious neck injury this weekend. Taylor had neck surgery Monday and will be moved to Atlanta's Shepherd Center later this week for rehab. You can leave messages for Taylor's family here.
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