After throwing 106 pitches last Wednesday and 63 more in relief on Saturday to clinch a win over Rice in the finals of the Conference USA Tournament, Copeland got the call on Friday and Clemson made him pay in a big way. In just five and one/third innings he allowed six earned runs on nine hits. He didn't strike out a batter and walked two. Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said in watching the game he could see a tired pitcher on the mound and it proved to be too much to overcome for the Golden Eagles.
"That back-to-back off those two kind of showed me something today," Berry said. "It was the pitch count. Not making those plays to keep it down and then late in the game with the heat I could tell it jumped on him. I probably should have gone to the pen earlier but I was trying to hold it to a point where we could catch up to Weismann.
On the flipside Clemson starter Scott Weismann was just the opposite. Earning the win to improve to 7-2, Weismann allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings. Clemson coach Jack Leggett said it was an all-around good win for his team.
"We played a really good ballgame today," Leggett said. "I was very pleased with how we played. We got it started off on the right foot with Scotty on the mound. I thought he pitched very well for us. He threw strikes and battled and threw some good pitches when he had to against a good baseball team."
Facing the 11-0 Copeland, Clemson wasted little time showing who was boss as leadoff man Will Lamb singled to open the bottom of the first inning and scored on a Mike Freeman double for a quick 1-0 lead for the Tigers. Following a groundout, right fielder Kyle Parker's sacrifice fly to right field scored Freeman to give Clemson starter Scott Weismann a two-run cushion to work with.
That lasted until the top of the fifth when Southern Miss finally got on the board with a leadoff double from Joey Archer and a one-out double by Tyler Koelling pushing across the only run of the game for the Golden Eagles. From that point forward it was all Clemson as the Tigers pounded Copeland on the way to the win.
With the lead down to one Lamb again came up big as his one-out home run to right field in the bottom of the fifth may have been the dagger for Copeland and Southern Miss. Later in the inning Parker got his second RBI on a single after Freeman reached on an error and eventually moved around to third base.
Up 4-1 Clemson put the game out of reach in the sixth. With Weismann pitching a gem, the Tigers got a homer from third baseman John Hinson to start the inning. A double by Wilson Boyd, a pair of walks, and three more hits allowed four more runs to score before reliever Mandella Mingo finally got Southern Miss out of the inning.
With a 10-1 lead Weismann got through the seventh inning unscathed before a 34-minute lightning delay brought his day to a close. Relievers Scott Firth and Josh Thrailkill finished things off for Clemson with a scoreless inning each as the Tigers advanced to Saturday's winner's bracket game at 6 p.m. against the winner of Auburn-Jacksonville State.