Tigers end the streak

CLEMSON — Relief. That's the way Clemson coach Jack Leggett described his team's 7-5 victory over South Carolina Wednesday night.

He was relieved because his Tigers ended a six-game losing streak to the Gamecocks, including Tuesday's one-run loss in Columbia.

That last loss had Leggett counting the white lines on the long bus trip back from Columbia and wondering if his team was ever going to find a way to end the streak and win close ballgames when they mattered the most.

"We're happy we won," Leggett said grinning. "Now I'm just glad it is over and glad we can move on. What we've done, we have had some tough losses, not just against South Carolina, but Georgia, North Carolina and the no-hitter we had going against Furman — we have had some tough losses."

The Tigers (21-11) appeared headed for maybe another one to their archrival when USC jumped out to a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning.

But Addison Johnson, a self-proclaimed Clemson fan growing up, evened the game at 2-2 when he took an Adam Westmoreland pitch to right centerfield. Kyle Parker later brought Ben Paulsen home on a double to give the Tigers their first lead of the night at 3-2.

"It hurts losing to USC six straight times. We take losses to the Gamecocks pretty rough," Johnson said. "All you can do is flush it after it is over with and try to come out the next day and get a win."

South Carolina (21-11), of course, did not want the Tigers to flush it. After Clemson took its first lead, the Gamecocks rallied to tie the game in the fourth inning and then took the lead in the top of the fifth thanks to the Tigers' third error of the night.

"We had to show some character tonight and some toughness," Leggett said. "It was a tough loss last night and a long bus ride home. It was a short night and we had to turn around and play again tonight.

"We are glad it's over with and glad we played well and got the W."

The Tigers tied the game, 4-4, when Wilson Boyd, back in the field after missing 13 games while dealing with Bells Palsy, hit a sacrifice fly into left field to score Paulsen, who had reached on a fielder's choice.

Clemson then scored a pair of runs with two outs, as pinch hitter Chris Epps (batting .152 on the season) followed that with an RBI single into right field to score Parker and then Jason Stolz followed with a single up the middle to score Brad Miller for a 6-4 lead.

The Tigers got a bases load walk in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the lead to 7-4. USC cut the lead to two runs in the top of the ninth as DeAngelo Mack – the Game 1 and 2 hero in the season series – had a two-out RBI single to bring the tying run to the plate.

But Graham Stoneburner ended the rally and the game by getting Nick Ebert to look at a third called strike.

Parker led Clemson with a 3-for-4 night at the plate that included an RBI-single. Earlier in the day, the Jacksonville, Fla., native spent two hours on the football fields during spring practice.

Wednesday marked his first win over the Gamecocks.

"It's nice beating the Gamecocks after they have got us so many times so coming in here and getting one from them feels good," Parker said.

Now the 20th-ranked Tigers hope they can get at least two of three against No. 5 Miami at home this weekend.

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