June 19, 2002
By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. – Getting knocked out of the College World Series would have been bad enough for South Carolina.
Having it done by state rival Clemson was just unacceptable.
“If you’re from Carolina you want to beat Clemson worse than you’ve wanted to beat anybody in your life. It’s that big a rivalry,” said Trey Dyson, who hit two two-run homers as South Carolina won the latest round 12-4 Wednesday night and stayed alive in the CWS.
Clemson and South Carolina will play one more time Friday with the winner advancing to Saturday’s title game.
“It’s very, very intense and it’s going to be even more so on Friday,” Dyson said. “It’s a one-game shot at the national championship.”
“If you’re from Carolina you want to beat Clemson worse than you’ve wanted to beat anybody in your life. It’s that big a rivalry.”
Landon Powell and Steve Thomas added solo homers for the Gamecocks (56-17). Matt Campbell (4-2) shut out the Tigers over the final 5 1-3 innings and struck out a career-high eight.
The rivalry got even more intense Wednesday when warnings were issued to both dugouts in the first inning after brushback pitches.
The Gamecocks fueled it further with a late steal while leading by seven runs and a couple of bats that were flipped after homers. A few players also tossed their hats out of the dugout when Campbell struck out the side in the fifth.
“We’ve got something for Friday. We’ll be ready to play,” said Clemson coach Jack Leggett, who was most upset about the tribute to Campell’s “hat trick.”
Kevin Melillo throws to first base for a double play in the second inning.
After losing 11-0 to Georgia Tech in the opening game, the Gamecocks have won three straight and are one victory away from playing for the championship.
“We came through the hard way. Now we have an opportunity to play ourselves into Saturday’s game,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said.
The Gamecocks outhit the Tigers 15-9 and Clemson (54-16) left 12 men on, leaving the bases loaded three times.
“If we want to compete for a national championship we’re going to have to come out with national championship caliber competition,” Leggett said.
Zane Green hit the first pitch of the game for a homer and Michael Johnson added a two-run homer in the third for Clemson.
Campbell came on in the fourth and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, then got four straight strikeouts. He held Clemson to two hits and walked two in his longest outing of the season.
Steve Reba (13-4) yielded Thomas’ leadoff homer in sixth that broke a 4-all tie and started a five-run inning. South Carolina added three more runs in the eighth, including Powell’s 12th homer of the season, and improved to 2-3 against Clemson this season.
Trey Dyson smiles as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
Tanner gave Drew Meyer the green light to steal third in the eighth inning with South Carolina leading 11-4. He said he didn’t intend to taunt Clemson and stood by the decision, largely because of the strong wind blowing out to left and the Tigers’ powerful lineup.
“Had the wind been blowing in I probably wouldn’t have done it, but they’re explosive offensively and I didn’t want to second-guess myself for being too conservative,” Tanner said. “I’ve had 10 runs scored on me a couple of times in my coaching career.”
Tanner also said he reprimanded his players for throwing their hats and did not think either team needed any more incentive for Friday’s elimination game.
South Carolina tied the game at 4-all in the fourth when Brian Buscher reached on an error and Dyson hit a high fly that the 23 mph wind helped over the wall in left. Then after Thomas’ homer into the upper level of the left-field bleachers gave the Gamecocks a 5-4 lead in the sixth, Dyson came up again with a man on and pulled a shot to right for his 18th homer of the year.
Justin Harris and Kevin Melillo added RBIs during the sixth.
Clemson took a 1-0 lead when Green’s fly to left-center caught the wind and carried into the first row. The last player to homer on the first pitch of a CWS game was Louisiana State’s Jason Williams in a 9-8 win over Wichita State in 1996.
Johnson made it 3-0 in the third with a two-run shot into the wind in right. It was the 112th homer for the Tigers’ this season.