The Tigers (19-13) hit four home runs which led to six runs, while at the same time starting pitcher Stephen Faris pitched a five-hit complete game to lead Clemson to the 12-2 victory over the Gamecocks on a cold and damp Wednesday night at Doug Kingsmore stadium.
The win is Clemson's fourth straight and it snaps nine straight wins by the fifth-ranked Gamecocks (28-6).
"It feels good to finally get a win against your rival," said second baseman Taylor Harbin, who hit his sixth home run of the season and had five RBIs. "We lost the first two, close games, but we came out today and we did what we set out to do – we swung the bats, played defense and pitched well. We put all three together."
It was the second consecutive complete game by Faris (3-1), who threw one last week in a loss to Georgia. He is the first Clemson pitcher to throw back-to-back complete games since Ryan Mottl in 2000 and the first to toss a complete game against South Carolina since Matt White did it in 1997.
"I'm pretty confident right now, even though I made a few mistakes," said Faris, who had seven strike outs and just one walk. "I threw well, but I think I can do better. I think I can do a lot better."
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner was impressed with the way Faris, a sophomore, was able to keep his hitters off balance by throwing a lot of sliders.
"We ran into a very good team tonight," Tanner said. "Faris was really outstanding. He was great from the get-go."
|Stephen Faris was strong once again Wednesday evening, pitching his second consecutive complete game.|
"It'll be a good problem to try to solve," Leggett said. "He deserves to pitch in some big games. We'll just have to figure out his rhythm to get him into the weekend, if that's what we want him to do."
To his credit, Faris is just happy to be playing, regardless of it's on a Wednesday or Sunday.
"I'm anything," he said. "Whatever they want me to do is fine with me. Whatever they want me to do, I just want to get the job done – starter, relief, closer – whatever they ask me to do that's my job."
While Faris was solid for the second straight outing, the Tigers went through six South Carolina pitchers as they pounded out 15 hits, seven of which went for extra bases. Starter Andrew Cruse (3-1) lasted just five outs before being pulled.
Every Clemson starter had at least one hit, with center fielder Brad Chalk leading the way with three.
"We didn't try to come out and hit (home runs), but we really swung the bats well today," Harbin said. "We focused on getting our pitch and just driving it."
The Tigers struck first in the bottom of the second with three runs and added another in the third on Kris Harvey's ninth homer of the year.
South Carolina added a run in the top of the fourth, but the Tigers responded by adding three more in the bottom half of the inning, two of which scored on a Harbin single to left field to make it 7-1.
After the Gamecocks scored another run in the fifth on a solo home run by catcher Ryan Mahoney, Clemson made it 8-2 on left fielder Tyler Colvin's second home run of the season. The next inning, the Tigers plated four more, three of which came on Harbin's blast.
"This is a good team and we wanted to get out to the lead and be able to relax a little bit and we were able to do that," Leggett said. "Then they started pressing a little bit and our offense and defense and pitching got confidence and then we started rolling. I thought we had a good look in our eyes before we came down here tonight and that we wanted to make a statement that we've got a pretty good ball club ourselves."
Clemson (9-3 in the ACC) now prepares to face Virginia (23-11, 5-8 ACC) for a three-game set starting Friday night at Doug Kingsmore. Harvey (4-1, 3.94 ERA) will pitch in the first game, with Josh Cribb (2-4, 3.83 ERA) going Saturday and Robert Rohrbaugh (4-1, 4.17 ERA) going Sunday.