The No. 2 Tigers had won six straight games trailing after five innings, but that was against lesser talent and Leggett understood all too well it would be much more difficult to mount such a comeback against teams with quality pitching.
The No. 4 Gamecocks are one of those teams.
South Carolina scored two in the first and three more in the third to quickly build a lead and run away to the 12-0 victory Saturday afternoon at a full Doug Kingsmore Stadium to take the first of a two-game series.
The Gamecocks blasted three multi-run homers and had three pitchers combine to allow just two hits. The shutout by the Gamecocks (9-1) is their first against the Tigers since 1986 and their first at Clemson since 1974.
"Everything they did today was just right," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "They're a good baseball team and they played the perfect storm today."
Harris Honeycutt got the win for South Carolina by allowing just two hits and striking out seven, all looking, over seven innings pitched. He improves to 4-0 on the season and 12-0 on his career.
"We definitely tried to make a statement out there by starting out on the right foot," Honeycutt said. "Every win counts, but it's always good to beat Clemson. …
"I was just trying to paint the corners and hit my spots. I felt good and tried to let the defense work a little bit."
David Kopp (1-1) took the loss for the Tigers (7-2) after he allowed seven runs six hits, three walks and had a balk in five and a third innings.
"I didn't make the pitches when I needed to," Kopp said. "They're a good hitting team and they made me pay. They're aggressive and good hitters and that's the bottom line. I couldn't put them away when I needed to."
South Carolina grabbed a 5-0 lead in the top of the third inning after Phil Disher hit a three-run shot that landed on the roof of the batting cages beyond right-center field. He finished with four RBI.
James Darnell also hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning, while Justin Smoak added a two-run shot in seventh to make it 10-0.
"I did not in my wildest dream see that coming today," Leggett said of Kopp's performance. "I just didn't see that coming."
Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner believes the two runs scored by his team in the top of the first were the biggest.
"I think that helped our guys a bit," he said. "The game certainly wasn't over at that point, but it certainly got us relaxed in the dugout."
Conversely, Leggett was concerned, and had every right to be, about South Carolina's early lead.
"That kind of got them off to a good start," he said. "Then the next thing you know, we found ourselves in the same patter of late and that's down early."
The good thing for the Tigers is they have a chance to redeem themselves tomorrow in Columbia. Game time is 1:30 p.m.
"The whole season is a marathon," Leggett said. "It's just one game in a big, huge season. Hopefully we'll go down there turn the tables tomorrow."
Gamecocks Thump Tigers
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