CLEMSON – A season full of what-ifs and now-whats has given the Clemson baseball faithful more to fret than cheer.
As the window closes on a spring to forget at Doug Kingsmore Stadium – and perhaps on a Hall of Fame coach’s tenure – Clemson gave Jack Leggett his 240th career triumph over a ranked opponent by defeating No. 19 College of Charleston 6-3 Wednesday night in front of a relatively partisan crowd of 3,712 fans.
The Tigers tallied a dozen hits, outfielder Steven Duggar drove in a pair of runs, starter Clate Schmidt pitched effectively and Clemson (25-24) avoided reaching 25 losses before 25 victories for the first time in school history.
Charleston designated hitter Bradley Jones deposited a 2-run bomb deep into the left-field seats, becoming the fourth Cougar with eight home runs. But that was about all the Cougars (35-10) could muster offensively, absorbing a blow to their NCAA regional hosting hopes against Clemson’s No. 73 RPI rating.
Jones’ homer tied the game at 2 in the top of the fifth, but Clemson responded with three runs in the bottom half of the frame, led by Duggar’s RBI double.
Charleston loaded the bases in the ninth, sending the tying run to the plate, but Taylor Vetzel earned his second save allowing just one inherited run.
Schmidt (2-3) struck out four men in five innings, and now has a 2.13 ERA in his last four starts – all in midweek games, during which Clemson has struggled. Eric Bauer (3-3) took the loss for Charleston.
This was a reversal of the trends, concerning both teams’ track records against in-state foes. Charleston dropped to 11-3 vs. opponents within the state of South Carolina (snapping its 10-game winning streak) while Clemson improved to 5-6, prevailing for the second time in more than two months.
Clemson also improved to 13-12 at home, ranking among its weakest outputs since moving to Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 1970.
Should Clemson decide to move on from the embattled Leggett after this season, a logical choice to become the Tigers’ third skipper in 59 years might have been on the top step of the third-base dugout Wednesday evening. Cougars coach Monte Lee has led his alma mater to a top-20 ranking, and entering Wednesday an impressive 15-3 road mark in his seventh season.