on March 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Farotto lifts Gamecocks over Clemson

CLEMSON — When everyone looks at the box score from Saturday’s 3-1 South Carolina victory over 19th-ranked Clemson, other than the 5,000 fans that were at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, they will believe DeAngelo Mack’s ninth inning home was the reason for the Gamecocks’ fifth straight win in the series.

But what they will not know is that left-hand pitcher Alex Farotto’s is the real hero for USC.

The senior, who entered the game with the bases load and one out after Nolan Belcher walked three straight batters in the seventh, induced a double-play against former Riverside High School teammate John Nester that got USC out of jam and set up Mack’s late game heroics.

“When I walked up onto the mound, I thought, ‘yeah it figures I will have to pitch against a Riverside boy,’” Farotto said.

Farotto did pitch to him and the end result was the play the Gamecocks needed. Nester hit a slow roller to the third and USC third baseman Andrew Crisp turned the double play to end the threat. After neither team could do much in the eighth inning, Mack took a one-out pitch from Graham Stoneburner to left, which the wind appeared to help carry over the fence.

“I thought it was a double at least and I just kept running,” Mack said.

The home run gave USC (4-0) a 2-1 lead. It then added to its lead with three straight base hits up the middle by Crisp, Justin Dalles and Bobby Haney.

Crisp came home for the game’s final run on Haney’s single to make the score 3-1.

“It was a big win,” Farotto said. “It is always fun to come in here and get a win… I remember what it was like to pitch here before and I remember that it is really intense. It is a great rivalry.”

The rivalry hasn’t been too kind to Clemson the last couple of years. The Gamecocks have now won eight of the last nine meetings, and the Tigers (4-1) have scored just four total runs during the five-game losing streak to South Carolina.

“(USC) pitched well, but two hits are not going to get it done,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “We did not have the leadoff man on base the whole night.

“It was tough to get anything going offensively. We could not get any bunting going and we could not get any guys on base and that makes it difficult.”

The only thing the Tigers did get was a solo home run from Matt Sanders in the bottom of the sixth that tied the game at 1-1. Other than that, Clemson got a double from Wilson Boyd with one out in the fifth inning.

USC starter Sam Dyson, who gave up the home run to Sanders, allowed both of Clemson hits, while striking out five batters in 6.1 innings of work.

USC coach Ray Tanner pulled Dyson for lefty Nolan Belcher with one out in the seventh inning, but Belcher struggled to find his command and walked three straight batters. But reliever Farotto was able to save the Gamecocks.

“That was gigantic,” Tanner said. “It was a situation where we were going to go with Farotto late, but we needed to hold a guy and Belcher was the guy and he missed the zone a couple of times and we put Alex in a bad situation there.

“He was able to get his breaking ball over it and rolled over it and got a double play ball.”

Lost in the game was the performance of Clemson’s pitchers Trey Delk and Casey Harman. Delk, the starter, pitched four solid innings and gave up just one run and four hits, while Harman was nearly flawless with no runs allowed and six strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work.

“Our guys actually pitched pretty well too and did some good things that way,” Leggett said. “The defense was good on both sides, but they got just a couple of more timely hits than we did.”

The timeliest hit probably came in the first inning when centerfielder Whit Merrifield got a triple when he actually should have been retired a few pitches before. But Sanders lost a foul ball in the gray and foggy sky along the third base side that gave Merrifield a second chance.

Jeffery Jones brought Merrifield home a few moments later when he took Delk’s pitch to the same spot for a double. After that Delk settled down and the Gamecocks did not score again until Mack’s home run in the ninth.

Clemson will try to end its losing streak to USC when it puts freshman left-hander Chris Dwyer on the mound Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Columbia, while South Carolina will counter with righty Blake Cooper.