Johnson Powers Tigers Over Gamecocks... Again


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Michael Johnson couldn't have chosen a better time to end his home run drought at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.


Johnson's three-run blast off Chris Hernandez in the fifth inning Wednesday night erased a 1-0 deficit and paced Clemson to a 4-2 victory over South Carolina. The homer was Johnson's sixth of the season, but just his first at home.


It also was his 10th career home run vs. the Gamecocks, his third this year.


"I've come to expect big plays out of myself," Johnson said. "That's what I'm supposed to do on this team. The fact that it came against South Carolina makes it even sweeter."


Johnson's homer was the single biggest blow in a game otherwise dominated by pitching, and came on the second of back-to-back fastballs in the at-bat.


South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner briefly considered walking Johnson with a base open, but opted to pitch to the Clemson slugger rather than put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.


After working the count to 2-0, Johnson swung and missed at an inside fastball from Hernandez (2-2). The USC righthander tried to hit the same spot with his next pitch, but left it out over the plate just enough for Johnson to make solid contact.


"Sometimes you throw the book out the window in that situation," Tanner said of possibly walking Johnson. "Chris made one quality pitch on him, but couldn't do it again."


"They made a mistake on him, and he did exactly what a great hitter is supposed to do," Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said. "He hasn't gotten many back-to-back fastballs all year long, so it probably surprised him a little. I'm just glad he's playing for us."


Johnson's heroics and some solid relief pitching in the late innings made a winner of freshman Jason Berken (4-1).


Berken, spotting his fastball around a good breaking pitch, went 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing just two runs while striking out seven. He turned it over to fellow freshman Robert Rohrbaugh with two outs and two on in the seventh, and Rohrbaugh ended the USC threat by getting Kevin Melillo to ground out to third baseman Brad McCann.


Rohrbaugh got the first two outs in the eighth inning before yet another freshman, Kris Harvey, was brought on to face cleanup hitter Brian Triplett. Harvey did the job by inducing Triplett to fly out to right.


Patrick Hogan worked the ninth for his third save, allowing just a two-out walk to Michael Campbell before getting pinch hitter Demetric Smith to ground out to third for the final out.


"We've got some good young pitching and I've got a lot of confidence in those guys," said Leggett. "Berken's a competitor, a lot along the lines of Hogan, in terms of his aggressiveness. I feel real good with him on the mound."


The Gamecocks had taken a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single from Steven Tolleson. After Johnson's blast put Clemson ahead 3-1 in the fifth, USC countered with a Michael Campbell run-scoring single in the seventh to cut the margin to one.


But Clemson added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Ryan Hub perfectly executed a suicide squeeze to score Johnson.


Both teams now head to Florida for weekend series. The Gamecocks (20-13) will be in Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators, while Clemson (24-7) ventures to ACC rival Florida State in Tallahassee.


NOTES


- Clemson wins the season series between the teams, 3-1. Afterwards, the series MVP awards for both teams were given to Johnson (Bob Bradley Award) and Aaron Rawl (Tom Price Award).


- Johnson finished the four-game series against USC with three homers and seven RBI. His career totals vs. the Gamecocks are 10 and 20, respectively.


- USC is now 2-7 on the road this season.



South Carolina 2 (20-13)

Player AB R H RBI BB SO PO A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Melillo, Kevin 2b........ 4 0 1 0 0 2 3 2 2
Buscher, Brian 3b........ 3 0 1 0 1 0 2 3 0
Powell, Landon c......... 4 0 0 0 0 2 6 1 0
Triplett, Bryan 1b....... 4 0 0 0 0 1 9 1 1
McDaniel, Trey dh........ 3 2 1 0 1 2 0 0 0
Harris, Justin ss........ 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 4 0
Campbell, Michael lf..... 2 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1
Tolleson, Steven rf...... 3 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0
Smith, Demetric ph...... 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Coutlangus, Jon cf....... 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Parks, Hank ph.......... 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Seaton, Tim pr/cf....... 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Hernandez, Chris p....... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bondurant, Steven p..... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Donald, Cliff p......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals................... 31 2 8 2 3 8 24 11 6

Clemson 4 (24-7)

Player AB R H RBI BB SO PO A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Green, Zane rf........... 4 0 2 0 0 0 3 0 0
Triplett, Russell ss..... 4 1 0 0 0 1 4 2 0
Johnson, Michael 1b...... 2 2 1 3 2 0 9 0 0
McCann, Brad 3b.......... 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 0
Frank, Kyle cf........... 4 0 2 0 0 1 2 0 3
Hub, Ryan lf............. 3 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0
Demmink, Herman dh....... 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Hourigan, Jeff ph/dh.... 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Everett, Brady c......... 3 0 0 0 1 1 5 3 0
Pyzik, Steve c.......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Slevin, David 2b......... 4 1 0 0 0 2 1 3 4
Berken, Jason p.......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rohrbaugh, Robert p..... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Harvey, Kris p.......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hogan, Patrick p........ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals................... 31 4 7 4 4 6 27 12 8

Score by Innings R H E
-------------------------------------------
South Carolina...... 010 000 100 - 2 8 2
Clemson............. 000 030 01X - 4 7 0
-------------------------------------------

E - MELILLO(6); BUSCHER(13). DP - S. Carolina 1;
Clemson 3. LOB - S. Carolina 6; Clemson 8. 2B - HARRIS(6).
HR - JOHNSON(6). SH - MI. CAMPBELL(2); HUB(2).
SB - MELILLO(3); MI. CAMPBELL(2). CS - BUSCHER(4).

South Carolina IP H R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Hernandez, Chris.... 7.1 6 4 4 3 5 28 31
Bondurant, Steven... 0.0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
Donald, Cliff....... 0.2 0 0 0 1 1 2 3

Clemson IP H R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Berken, Jason....... 6.2 7 2 2 1 7 24 26
Rohrbaugh, Robert... 1.0 1 0 0 1 0 3 4
Harvey, Kris........ 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Hogan, Patrick...... 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 3 4

Win - BERKEN (4-1). Loss - HERNANDEZ (2-2).
Save - HOGAN (3). BK - BERKEN(1).
Umpires - HP: Jack Cox 1B: Morris Hodges
3B: Eddie Loggins
Start: 7:20 Time: 2:27 Attendance: 4814
BONDURANT faced 2 batters in the 8th.


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