Originally created 03/03/03

Baseball: South Carolina tops Clemson



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina's Aaron Rawl didn't want to go another month without beating Clemson. So Rawl made sure it didn't happen.

The sophomore righty held the Tigers to six hits and got his second career complete game in the Gamecocks 6-4 win Sunday that evened the weekend rivalry series at a victory each.

Tyler Lumsden four hit South Carolina in a Clemson's 8-0 win at the Upstate campus Saturday.

"They beat us yesterday and they had only one day to enjoy it," said Rawl (4-0), who's other complete game was a 9-5 victory over Georgia Tech at last year's College World Series. "Now we've got a month to enjoy one win."

Freshmen Michael Campell and Trey McDaniel had solo home runs for the Gamecocks (9-2), Brian Buscher had two RBIs on a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk.

And Rawl's performance made it stand up.

He cruised through the first six innings, allowing only one hit and only once permitting a runner to reach second. Rawl faded down the stretch, but still had enough to hold off the Tigers (3-3).

South Carolina coach Ray Tanner considered taking Rawl out as Clemson rallied on Michael Johnson's two-run homer in the eighth and Kyle Frank's two-run homer in the ninth. "But you'd like to have one of toughest guys on the mound at the end," he said.

Sure enough, Rawl followed the gopher ball to Frank with strikeouts of catcher Collin Mahoney, pinch-hitter Ryan Hub and designated Garrick Evans to end the game.

Rawl, who had eight strikeouts and four walks, threw 135 pitches and said he didn't feel taxed at the finish. Beating your state rival takes some of the sting away.

"That's the thing about football and baseball," said Rawl, recalling South Carolina's 27-20 loss to Clemson on the football field last November. "They got to wait until next year. We get to wait a month and go at it again. This is a big momentum change for us."

The two teams face each on consecutive Wednesdays next month, April 2 here at Sarge Frye Field and April 9 at Clemson. But by then, the Gamecocks will be fighting for the Southeastern Conference title and the Tigers dealing with Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Indeed, the whole state practically stopped to watch last June when South Carolina won two straight to eliminate Clemson from the College World Series.

"They're big games and I think everybody kind of turns it up a notch," said Johnson, a senior who's got eight homers and 15 RBIs in 14 career games with South Carolina. "When we play each other, it's just a big rivalry."

That made it extra important not to get swept by the Tigers, South Carolina second baseman Kevin Melillo said. "You've got to build your confidence," he said. "We've played a lot of good teams but none as good as Clemson. To come out here and beat them in front of your home crowd is big."

South Carolina's scoring began strangely. With Melillo on second in the fourth, Buscher smashed a hard shot to shortstop for what looked like the second out. But starter Jeff Hahn (1-2) was called for a balk, sending Melillo to third and giving Buscher new life.

Buscher took advantage with a sacrifice fly to put South Carolina up 1-0.

Clemson coach Jack Leggett said the ump told him Hahn didn't come set. "I didn't see it that way, I didn't see it," Leggett said. "That's a tough call to make in that situation, to be honest with you."

South Carolina added three runs in the fifth, highlighted by Campbell's second homer of the season.

The Tigers looked like they would get back in it in the seventh on a leadoff single by Roberto Valiente and an error by third baseman Buscher that left runners at first and third. However, a sinking liner by pinch-hitter Jeff Hourigan was snagged by a sliding Campbell to end the inning.

"I thought I had it all the way," Campbell said. "I knew if I laid out, I would have it. I knew if I made that catch, it would stop the Clemson momentum."

The Tigers now have to wait a month to get it back.