Season ends after bitter defeat

OMAHA, Neb. – Clemson lost for a second-straight night in a row to South Carolina, bowing out of the College World Series on Saturday with a 4-3 loss.

BOX SCORE: South Carolina 4 Clemson 3

After the disappointing end to the up-and-down, roller-coaster of a season, Clemson coach Jack Leggett said he's proud of the 2010 team, despite the back-to-back losses at Rosenblatt Stadium.

"It shows the character of our team, the toughness of our team," he said. "I'm extremely proud of how we battled tonight and last night.

"We got beat, but we're going to hold our heads high. It's a tremendous group of young men. I'm very proud that I can call myself their coach."

South Carolina jumped ahead to a 4-2 lead in the seventh on back-to-back, two-out RBI singles from Christian Walker and Adrian Morales.

Before the hits, Whit Merrifield struck out looking on a full-count and Evan Marzilli attempting to steal second base. Merrifield, who thought the pitch was a ball, started towards first in front Clemson catcher John Nester. The throw sailed into centerfield, allowing Marzilli to advance to third.

No interference was called on the play, bringing Leggett out of the dugout to question home plate umpire Kelly Gonzales.

"You don't have to make any contact for it to be interference," Leggett said. "He saw it differently than I saw it."

Clemson tied the game at 2-2 in the top-half of the inning when Chris Epps scored from second on what would have been an inning-ending double-play. Along with Epps' run, Mike Freeman reached on a fielder's choice to short on after the throwing error from second to first.

South Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after three-straight singles to start the game. Walker, the clean-up batter, grounded into a double play.

Clemson evened the score to 1-1 when Jeff Schaus grounded into a fielder's choice, driving in Will Lamb, who was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a Mike Freeman single.

The Tigers' slugging trio of Schaus, Kyle Parker and John Hinson went 3-for-21 in the two losses to the Gamecocks in Omaha.

"That's impressive," said South Carolina coach Ray Tanner, "because as a coach, you're holding your breath when those guys come to the plate time and time again."

Tanner believes that's the likely source of his team's berth in the finals.

"We kept them at bay to a great extent. And that was probably the key for us having the opportunity to win," he said.

One of the three hits came in eighth when Hinson reached with a triple to lead-off the inning after second baseman Scott Wingo collided with Merrifield right field. Hinson was driven in when Miller grounded out to second.

Clemson starter Casey Harman pitched 6-1/3 innings allowed, three runs, seven hits, including a solo homerun to Walker in the fourth.

Harman struck out five and gave up no walks.

"It's tough to go out like that in the last time of the season," he said. "I don't even know what to say."

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