GREENVILLE - He's never been the same since having Tommy John surgery after his freshman season. He knows that. But that's not going to keep him from trying to be as good as he once was.
Adam Westmoreland is at least off to a strong start.
The fifth-year senior relieved struggling starter Colby Holmes in the fifth inning of Saturday's 6-3 loss to Clemson and while he immediately gave up a two-run single, he settled down to throw 4 1-3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball. The other two hits were in the ninth, when he gave up the Tigers' final run, but Westmoreland also struck out seven and didn't walk any.
The Gamecocks couldn't make it count, but they remained in the game due to Westmoreland. He kept Clemson off the scoreboard while USC scored three runs and squandered several other opportunities, until he was finally touched for another run in the ninth.
"It feels good," Westmoreland said. "I'm just trying to go out and keep us in it, give us a chance to win. Give our hitters a chance and try to keep it close. It feels real good."
Westmoreland looks more comfortable and smooth than he has in years. He only received spot duty last year, pitching in seven games, none later than April 17.
His work on Saturday earned him more looks.
"Adam's been throwing very well," coach Chad Holbrook said. "Four innings and seven Ks, no earned runs, couldn't ask for (more than) that. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance. That performance warrants more opportunities in bigger situations down the road."
UNDER PRESSURE: USC has not lost the season series to Clemson since 2006. It puts that streak on the line on Sunday.
2006: 3-1 Clemson
2007: 3-1 USC
2008: 4-0 USC
2010: 3-2 USC (includes College World Series)
2011: 2-1 USC
2012: 4-1 USC (includes NCAA Columbia Regional)
2013: 1-1 (one game to play)
IF IT AIN'T RAININ,' USC AIN'T PLAYIN,': The game was delayed for 55 minutes after a brief wintry mix invaded the area, making it what felt like approximately the 88th straight game that a USC game has been affected by rain. It began at the Georgia series last year and hasn't shown any sign of stopping.
IS GRASS WARM?: The TD Ameritrade Bank berm in left field was filled early with fans and blankets, covering all shades of garnet, black, orange and purple.
WINNING SOMETHING: Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich and USC AD Ray Tanner each threw out ceremonial first pitches. Radakovich's was a high looper that got to the plate, but would have been ball one. Tanner, a veteran of 30 years of throwing batting practice, had his familiar arm raise, head tilt and fire, a slider that hit outside black for a strike.
OR MAYBE NOT: Cocky and The Tiger had a footrace around the basepaths before the game, with The Tiger winning by a few steps. Cocky immediately asked Billy Anderson for a workout plan.
SUN DELAY: When the weather finally cleared, Fluor Field's brass made sure that the pre-game ceremonies would challenge for another rain delay. Each team's full roster was introduced, through the residue of a smoke machine that often obscured the players. Then fireworks were blasted for the introduction of each name in the starting lineups.
Following that, a country music artist performed an extended version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," then the ground crews had to clean up the used fireworks shells.
FOOLED YOU: Pitcher Nolan Belcher, known for performing a backflip during USC's pre-game huddle in 2012, got into the middle on Saturday and turned his cap backward, as if he was going to do it again. Instead, he gave a simple crow-hop as his teammates swarmed him.
Belcher is slated to pitch the series finale on Sunday.
THE RIVALRY SCOREBOARD: Clemson beat USC 6-3 in the second installment of the annual three-game baseball series and trimmed the deficit to 6-4 in the all-sports season series. One more win clinches the season series for the Gamecocks for the sixth straight year, barring any postseason matchups.
Date Sport Winner Score
9-1 WSoccer CU 1-0 (2OT)
9-7 Volleyball USC 3-0
9-18 MSoccer USC 1-0
10-26 WDiving USC 26-12
11-18 WBasketball USC 64-43
11-24 Football USC 27-17
12-2 MBasketball CU 64-55
2-3 WTennis CU 6-1
3-1 Baseball USC 6-0
3-2 Baseball CU 6-3
*NOTE: Only head-to-head matchups are counted. Track meets or golf matches where USC and Clemson, plus other schools, competed are not eligible.
Kentucky 7, Akron 0
Mississippi State 4, St. Joseph's 1
Tulane 6, Alabama 2
Clemson 6, South Carolina 3
Vanderbilt 5, Illinois-Chicago 3
Ole Miss 8, Florida International 3
Tennessee 6, Massachusetts 4
Georgia 6, UAB 2
Auburn 14, Eastern Illinois 7