Tigers Drop Series

CLEMSON – There was barely a noise as the majority of the overflowing crowd exited Doug Kingsmore Stadium. There wasn't any sort of gleeful song blaring from the public address system. It was a somber and downright mournful exodus.

But what else would one expect from the throng of Clemson faithful after they had just seen their beloved Tigers fall 5-1 to hated, instate rival South Carolina on a bright Sunday afternoon.

It wasn't a good weekend for No. 19 Clemson (5-2) as it got swept by the No. 10 Gamecocks (5-1) by a combined score of 15-2.

"We didn't hit today," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "We've got to be a little better offensively than we have the last couple of games."

Clemson managed nine hits and two walks, but left nine runners on base, largely due to the fact that eight of the hits were singles.

South Carolina, meanwhile, cranked out 14 hits, but it, too, had trouble getting the runners home. The Gamecocks stranded 12 runners on base due in large part to Clemson starting pitcher D.J. Mitchell working his way out of trouble time and time again.

The junior pitched 5.1 innings and gave up 10 hits, but he allowed just two runs and only one earned run, while striking out six.

"I thought D.J. pitched well for us by getting out of some jams and keeping us in it," Leggett said.

But when Mitchell exited, that's when the Gamecocks did most of their damage. They got a run off of Clinton Mckinney in the seventh, before salting the game away in the ninth, which was rather interesting inning.

After a quick out to start the top of the last inning, South Carolina star first baseman Justin Smoak came face to face the with his best friend and Tigers pitcher Matt Vaughn.

During the time of the at-bat, Vaughn came inside on a pitch, which caused Smoak to dance out of the way and look back at his friend.

A couple pitches later, Smoak got his revenge by hitting a bomb of a homerun that sailed over the Cajun Café section in right field and landed deep within the trees. Smoak made sure he stood and admired the moon shot.

That pushed the score to 4-1.

"Me and him grew up together," Smoak said of Vaughn. "It was definitely kind of weird (facing him), but it was fun at the same time. We're best friends. We always have been and we always will be. ...

"(Watching the homer) was just one of those things. You hit a ball like that (and you have to.)"

The next batter, Andrew Crisp, was greeted with a pitch that hit him, which caused more strife.

As Crisp trotted down to first base, he looked at Vaughn the whole way, which caused three Clemson players to jump from the dugout toward Crisp and scream, which caught the attention of the Gamecocks in their dugout.

The Tiger players were quickly pushed back to the dugout and nothing else happened.

"I know Crisp got hit after the homerun, but that's part of the game," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "I didn't think it was a big deal."

Crisp scored one batter later when Harley Lail doubled to left-center field to make it 5-1 and end the suspense and give the Gamecocks their fifth win over Clemson in the last six meetings and Tanner his 900th career win.

Tigers catcher Doug Hogan said stretches like these where the team can't score are going to be the norm rather than the exception, especially at the beginning of the season, because of the load of youth and inexperience on the team.

"It's only a couple of games into the year and everybody knew we were going to have some growing pains early," he said. "That's something that's going to come with so much youth on this team.

"(South Carolina) has a lot of veteran guys. We're going to have some bumps this season, but I think we've still got a chance to be a pretty good team."

NOTE: Clemson freshman Kyle Parker had a tough two-game series in which he committed three errors at third and went 1-for-8 at the plate. Leggett said he didn't have any other options at third because of the rash of injuries.

Freshman infielder John Hinson has a pulled lower back muscle and is having a hard time breathing. Sophomore second baseman Mike Freeman has a knee problem that is pretty bad, while outfielder Addison Johnson has a wrist injury.

Leggett thinks all three injuries could keep the players out for a decent amount of time.

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