Sports

Gamecocks win second straight over Tigers

South Carolina's Justin Smoak, right, rounds third base as he celebrates with third base coach Monte Lee after hitting a home run against Clemson in the ninth inning.
South Carolina's Justin Smoak, right, rounds third base as he celebrates with third base coach Monte Lee after hitting a home run against Clemson in the ninth inning.

CLEMSON -- Reese Havens did it again and so did South Carolina.

The Gamecocks' junior shortstop came into the weekend without an RBI in his eight career games with rival Clemson.

A game after collecting five RBIs in South Carolina's 10-1 win over the Tigers (5-2), Havens had the run-scoring single that put the Gamecocks (5-1) ahead to stay in a 5-1 victory Sunday.

The win, along with being South Carolina's fifth in its last six games against the Tigers, brought Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner his 900th career victory.

"It was a good weekend for us," Havens said. "Today, rather than yesterday, we did some bad things and still found a way to win."

Havens even had the chance to duplicate Saturday's grand slam, up with the bases loaded in the second. This time, though, Havens struck out. "You always want to be in that situation as a hitter," he said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get it done that time."

Four innings later, Havens did.

After Scott Wingo's RBI single, Havens slapped a ball to right field that brought in Justin Hopper and put South Carolina up 2-0.

Havens "is off to a great start," Tanner said. "He's feeling good about his game, and playing good defense as well."

Clemson got its only run in its half of the sixth off starter Blake Cooper (1-1). Then Gamecock closer Curtis Johnson held the Tigers to two hits over the final three innings for his first save. He had four strikeouts, including striking out the side in the eighth after giving up a leadoff hit to Doug Hogan.

Tigers' outfielder Wilson Boyd, who had three of his team's nine hits, said the rivalry atmosphere might have overwhelmed some of his younger teammates.

Clemson started seven sophomores or freshmen in its lineup for the second straight game. Again, it appeared to cost the Tigers. Third baseman Kyle Parker committed two errors, giving him three for the series.

Clemson left nine runners on base for the second consecutive game.

"Them not having that experience, just a slow start," Boyd said. "We couldn't really get anything going the first couple of innings."

Tanner took his latest milestone win in stride. He's spent 21 years as a coach, first at North Carolina State and, for the past 12 years, with the Gamecocks.

"I didn't win any games. The players win games," Tanner said. "I'm just proud to be a coach."

South Carolina hasn't had this much success in this intense rivalry -- the Gamecocks came into the weekend with a 17-15 edge since 2000 -- since a similar stretch of five out of six in 2000 and 2001.

The teams play twice more this season, at South Carolina on April 9 and at Clemson on April 16.

After Havens' hit, the Gamecocks added a run in the seventh on Harley Lail's RBI double and two in the ninth on Justin Smoak's long solo homer to right and a run-scoring double by Lail.

After Smoak's blast, his third of the season, Tiger reliever Matt Vaughn plunked the next batter, Andrew Crisp. Umpires rushed over to get between several Clemson players who had left the dugout and headed toward the field.

Then Lail doubled into the left centerfield gap, pumping his fists in celebration when he got to the bag.

Blake Cooper (1-1) got his first victory of the season, scattering seven hits over six innings.

D.J. Mitchell (1-1) took the loss.

Both starters kept things scoreless through five innings.

The Gamecocks broke through on Mitchell in the sixth with RBI singles by Wingo and Havens to lead 2-0.

The Tigers scored when third baseman James Darnell threw wildly to first on Parker's grounder to score Ben Paulsen.

Clemson came into the weekend averaging better than nine runs a game, but managed only two runs total against the Gamecocks.

Tigers coach Jack Leggett says his team was caught with its youth showing.

"We were probably due to run into this," he said.

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