WP: Billy Buckner (3-0)
LP: Jason Berken (1-1)
Junior righthander Billy Buckner struck out 16 Tigers to lead #5 South Carolina over #18 Clemson 5-2 Saturday afternoon in front of 6,307 fans at Sarge Frye Field. South Carolina improved to 11-0, while the Tigers fell to 4-4.
Buckner (3-0) earned the win for the Gamecocks by pitching 7.2 innings. He struck out a career-high 16 batters and walked just one. The 16 strikeouts was one short of the school record. The Conyers, GA native also allowed two runs on three hits, while throwing 117 pitches. Chad Blackwell pitched the final 1.1 innings, striking out two, to earn his fifth save of the year. The 18 strikeouts by Gamecock pitchers tied a single-game record. Tiger starter Jason Berken (1-1) suffered the loss.
South Carolina jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on only one base hit. Tommy King and Bryan Triplett led off with walks, the first two by Berken in 2004. After a balk moved the runners up 90 feet, Steve Pearce laced a double over Tony Sipp in left field to score a run. The ball was hit hard right at Sipp, as he misjudged the flight. Landon Powell then brought another run home with an RBI groundout, and Kevin Melillo followed with a sacrifice fly to center that was booted by Garrick Evans in centerfield to up the Gamecock lead to 3-0.
Triplett added to the South Carolina lead in the fifth inning when he led the inning off with a home run to left field, his third of the season. The hit extended his hitting streak to 11 games. After a single by Pearce, Powell hit a double to left-center. Melillo then hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, moving both runners up, to give the Gamecocks a 5-0 lead.
The Tigers finally got on the board in the sixth inning. With two outs, Sipp broke up Buckner's no-hitter with a line-drive single to right. Travis Storrer followed with an opposite-field, two-run homer to left to get Clemson on the board. It was Storrer's second home run of the season.
Clemson and South Carolina will rematch Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson at 2:00 PM. A limited number of tickets will be available at the left-field ticket gate starting at 12:00 PM Sunday.