LEGGETT POSTGAME: (5:22)
Wilson Boyd may have summed it up best when the center fielder said the Clemson baseball team was "cursed." Of course, losing record 11 straight overall and getting swept by the instate rival will prompt such thoughts.
The Tigers continued their woes at the plate, mustering just three hits while being shutout in No. 14 South Carolina's 6-0 victory at a surprisingly quiet and less than full Doug Kingsmore Stadium Wednesday night.
As a result, the Gamecocks swept the four-game series and got their most wins in a season series since 1985. In the four games, South Carolina (27-10) outscored the Tigers 28-3.
Moreover, it's also the 11th consecutive overall loss for Clemson (18-19, 6-12 ACC), the longest such streak ever in the 111-year history of the program. The Tigers have never been below .500 this many games into the season.
"I'm open for suggestions," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "It's always tough to lose to them and it's always tough to lose period. But I don't differentiate."
What has absolutely killed the Tigers has been their hitting. During the losing streak, Clemson is hitting a dreadful .190 as a team. It hit .194 in the four games against the Gamecocks.
"I wasn't aware of that," Boyd said of the hitting statistics. "We don't focus on stats that much here at Clemson. But I knew we'd been struggling."
Doing much of the damage for South Carolina was senior pitcher Nick Godwin, who pitched 7.2 innings, allowing no runs on three hits and striking out seven.
In two games over a span of eight days, Godwin (4-2) pitched 15.2 innings, allowing only 1 run, while striking out 15. For his efforts, he received the Tom Price Award, which is given to the South Carolina most valuable player in the series.
The Tigers didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning and didn't get its first ball to the outfield in the air until the fifth.
"Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined us losing like this," said Boyd, who earned the Bob Bradley Award, given to the most valuable player of the Tigers in the series. "It's tough to go out against your rival and struggle four games in a row. The bats have been cold for quite a while."
The Gamecocks broke the game open in the top of the fourth when freshmen Justin Hopper and Scott Wingo hit back-to-back home runs to give the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead.
But South Carolina wasn't done in the inning as three of the next four hitters recorded doubles and the Tigers committed an error to push the lead to 6-0.
Offensively, the Gamecocks pounded out a total of 13 hits, five of which went for extra bases. Whit Merrifield led the way by going 3-for-4, with two runs scored and one RBI. Teammate Reese Havens went 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Clemson pitcher Justin Surratt (1-2), making his first career start, went three and a third innings, and allowed five runs on nine hits.
Nevertheless, Leggett is convinced his team can turn things around and get on a winning streak.
"The tough thing right now is teaching these kids that things are going to get better because they haven't seen it," he said. "I'm doing all kinds of things to try to keep their confidence up."
That road to winning could begin this weekend with a three-game series at Duke, which entered Wednesday 25-12 overall and 5-12 in the ACC.
"This is a big series for us," Leggett said. "We have to go out there and we have to play. We can still get where we want to be. We've still got something to hang our hat on. We're not dead yet."
NOTE: Shortstop Stan Widmann didn't play due to soreness in his neck. X-rays where done and there appears to be no internal damage to any of the areas where he had surgery last year. He is listed as day-to-day.
Also, left fielder and leadoff hitter Addison Johnson has been officially lost for the season after undergoing surgery to remove the Hammet bone in his wrist on Monday. He has yet to play a game this season and will redshirt.
"We're missing a vital part of our offense," Leggett said of Johnson. "I never thought that one guy would be that critical."
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