CLEMSON — Thomas Brittle knows the College of Charleston roster well, having transferred from the school to Clemson prior to the season.
Brittle was especially familiar with the pitcher he faced with the Tigers down one run, with two on and two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning Saturday. The Cougars’ closer, David Peterson, was his freshman roommate.
Brittle fell behind in the count two strikes and no balls to Peterson before lining a game-tying hit to left-field to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. Two batters later, Peterson threw a wild pitch allowing Steve Wilkerson to score from third to give Clemson a 4-3 win.
The College of Charleston entered Doug Kingsmore Stadium having never beaten Clemson. Twenty-two times the Cougars had played the Tigers, and 22 times Charleston has lost to the in-state powerhouse.
And the stakes have rarely been greater between the two schools as both entered the weekend jockeying for NCAA position. The Cougars (31-14) entered the series No. 28 in the NCAA RPI while the Tigers (27-19) were ranked 33rd in RPI entering the weekend.
“Everyone says baseball is a funny game, it always comes back around to you,” Brittle said. “It was nice to be in that big situation and come through….I was just trying to put something in play and hope something good happened.”
Brittle, who in part transferred because he felt his speed and defense approach was a better fit at Clemson, has become a key player defensively in centerfield and offensively atop the lineup for Jack Leggett.
Clemson freshman Daniel Gossett allowed just one run in 41/3 innings of relief, while striking out eight. The lone run he gave up was an RBI double to Daniel Aldrich in the top of the 11th.
Cougars reliever Kyle Owings allowed just one baserunner in three innings of relief.
But C of C coach Monte Lee elected to go to his closer, Peterson, in the 11th.
“Peterson has been my closer all year,” Lee said. “Any save situation we go to Peterson. (Owings) did his job.”
While the game was decided by the bullpens, both starting pitchers pleased the contingent of 10 MLB scouts on hand to watch College of Charleston ace Christian Powell take on Dominic Leone and Clemson.
Powell, who entered with an 8-2 record and 2.37 ERA, settled down after a rocky first inning in which he loaded the bases and allowed two runs to score on one Clemson hit.
He responded by shutting the Tigers out for six straight innings. Powell allowed only two hits but he walked four, and hit four batters, losing control of his 90-94 mph fastball at times. The potential early pick in June’s baseball draft threw 105 pitches.
Matching the Cougars’ ace was Dominic Leone who took the place of No. 1 Clemson starter Kevin Brady who is expected to be out at least two more weeks with a hamstring injury, according to Leggett.
Leone allowed three or fewer runs in a start for the first time since March 31 against Miami. The junior allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out four.
Leone left shortly after surrendering a home run to College of Charleston’s Marty Gantt in the sixth, a towering shot over the left-center field fence, tying the score at 2.