Clemson Punches Ticket to College World Series

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

Clemson, SC – Richie Shaffer hit two home runs to help build an 8-1 lead and #13 Clemson withstood a nine-inning rally to defeat #16 Alabama 8-6 in front of 5,250 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the Clemson Super Regional on Monday afternoon. The Tigers, who improved to 43-23 on the season, won the super regional 2-1 and advanced to the College World Series with the win. The Crimson Tide ended their season with a 42-25 record.

After Alabama scored an unearned run in the first inning, Clemson scored two runs apiece in the second, third, fourth, and seventh innings to take an 8-1 lead. But the Crimson Tide rallied for five runs in the ninth inning and put the potential tying run at second base before the final out was made to send Clemson to its 12th College World Series in history and first since 2006.

Freshman righthander Dominic Leone (3-1), the first of five Tiger pitchers, earned the win. He allowed just three hits, one unearned run, and one walk with three strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched. Alex Frederick pitched the next 2.1 innings, allowing just one hit, no runs, and no walks with a strikeout. Will Lamb retired the only batter he faced to record his second save of the season as well.

Alabama starter Nathan Kilcrease (8-3) suffered the loss in 5.0 innings pitched. He yielded 11 hits, six runs, and two walks with one strikeout.

The Crimson Tide grabbed the game’s first lead in the first inning thanks in part to a Tiger error. Leadoff batter Taylor Dugas reached on a fielding error by shortstop Brad Miller and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Dugas advanced to third on another wild pitch and scored on Ross Wilson’s one-out single to right field.

In the top of the second inning, Kyle Parker led off with a single through the left side. Two batters later, John Hinson belted a two-run homer to right field, his second long ball of the super regional, his fifth of the NCAA Tournament, and 17th of the season. Two batters later, Wilson Boyd laced a two-out single to right-center, then Spencer Kieboom hit a liner to right-center, but Dugas made a diving catch to end the inning.

The Tigers added to their lead in the third inning. Chris Epps led off with a single through the right side and Mike Freeman followed with a single to center to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Jeff Schaus popped up in the infield for out #1, then Parker flied out down the right-field line. Epps moved to third after the catch and Freeman also moved up a base when Andrew Miller started jogging towards the dugout thinking he had made the inning-ending out. Brad Miller then came through with a two-out double to right-center to score Epps and Freeman. It also extended Miller’s hitting streak to 17 games. Hinson lined a ball headed for left-center, but shortstop Josh Rutledge made a diving catch to end the inning.

Richie Shaffer led off the fourth inning with an opposite-field, solo homer to right-center. Three batters later and after Kieboom grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, Epps walked with two outs and stole second. Freeman then grounded a ball headed up the middle, but Wilson made a diving stop to save a run as Freeman reached on an infield single and Epps advanced to third. However, Schaus came through with a double to right field to plate Epps, giving Clemson a 6-1 lead.

In the fifth inning, Hinson hit a one-out single to right field and Shaffer followed with a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder. However, Rutledge booted the ball and both runners were safe. Boyd walked to load the bases, but Kieboom grounded into another 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Brock Bennett led off the sixth inning with a hit-by-pitch and went to second two batters later on Rutledge’s one-out single up the middle. Two batters later, Clay Jones drew a two-out walk, the first walk issued by a Tiger pitcher in the super regional, to load the bases. After Frederick entered the game on the mound, Jake Smith popped up the first pitch to Freeman at second to end the inning and keep the Tigers ahead 6-1.

In the seventh inning, Hinson lined a one-out single up the middle and Shaffer followed with a two-run homer to center, his second long ball of the game, third of the super regional, and seventh of the season.

In the ninth inning, Smith led off with a walk on four pitches and Jon Kelton flied out to right for out #1. After pinch-hitter Cal Tinsley struck out for out #2, Brett Booth hit an opposite-field, two-run homer down the right-field line, his second long ball of the season. Bennett reached on an infield single, then Dugas singled up the middle. After Rutledge singled through the right side to load the bases, Wilson walked on five pitches to plate Bennett and bring the potential tying run to the plate. On a 3-2 pitch to Jones, he hit a routine grounder to Brad Miller at shortstop, but the ball went through his legs for an error as Dugas and Rutledge scored. Jones, the potential tying run, also moved to second on the play. But Lamb came on to get Smith to fly out to Schaus in left-center to end the game and send the Tigers to the College World Series.

Every Tiger starter had at least one hit, led by three hits apiece by Freeman and Hinson. Hinson went 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs, and two runs, while Shaffer went 2-for-5 with two home runs and three RBIs for Clemson, who outhit Alabama 16-8.

Wilson went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while Rutledge added two hits for the Crimson Tide.

Clemson will play #1 national seed Arizona State in its first game of the College World Series this weekend. The game date and start time will be announced on Monday night.

  • Ben Wagener

    Despite some shoddy fielding and struggling relief
    pitching all year,Clemson had outstanding hitting and
    never gave up.Miller made up for his errors with timely
    hitting all year.Good coaching and focus by the players
    in the regional and super regional. Hinson and Schaeffer
    surprised me with their power.
    However, putting in Cruz at the end of
    the last inning with Alabama at bat was a poor choice.
    I would have used Casey Harmon to seal the win.
    Go Tigers,you can beat Arizona State.