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Columbia Regional: Game 1 Recap

COLUMBIA, S.C.  – Phil Pohl drove in five runs and hit a second-inning grand slam as Clemson defeated Coastal Carolina, 11-3, in Friday’s first game of the NCAA Columbia Regional at Carolina Stadium.

Pohl was one of five players to contribute two hits apiece to Clemson’s 13-hit attack.

“I think it was huge,” Pohl said of the Tigers’ early offensive success after a series of late-season games where runs were hard to come by.  “The last few games I wouldn’t say we’ve been struggling, but we haven’t been as on-point as we would like to.”

“Offensively we had a good day,” said Tigers coach Jack Leggett. “We got some big hits with two outs and some two-out RBIs. Defensively we played well overall and we did some nice things on the mound.”

Defensive lapses by Coastal Carolina (41-18) helped Clemson build a 6-0 lead after two innings.

“The difference between winning and losing at this level is guys being so confident they just go out and make plays,” said Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore. “We just didn’t make them; it’s as simple as that.”

Richie Shaffer hit a two-out first-inning popup that drifted away from Chanticleers first baseman Rich Witten and fell in for a ­­double. Pohl followed with a single to give Clemson (34-26) a 1-0 lead.

“Two people should have had that ball all day long, every day,” Gilmore said.

“It was tough read off the bat,” Witten said “It was a little bit of a high ball. I was expecting some help but I was going after it as aggressively as I could.”

With two on and two out in the Clemson second, Thomas Brittle reached when Chanticleers pitcher Austin Wallace was slow covering first on an infield grounder to Witten. Brad Felder scored from second on the play.

“We don’t cover first base and open up the whole inning,” Gilmore said. “You can’t do that against good people and get away with it.”

Shaffer drew his 59th walk of the season to lead the bases and Pohl lined a grand slam off the top of the left-field wall to make the score 6-0. It was Pohl’s ninth home run of the season and his second career grand slam – both at Carolina Stadium. He had a grand slam against South Carolina in 2010.

“The game should have been scoreless – or maybe we’re up 1-0 – after two innings,” Gilmore said. “You’ve got to give Clemson credit. If you don’t make a play, they punch you.”

The game was delayed for 1:37 because of rain in the middle of the fifth inning.

Clemson starter Kevin Pohle (7-4) didn’t return after the rain delay. He allowed four hits and two runs in five innings. David Haselden went the final four innings to get his first save of the season.

Clemson advances to a 4 p.m. Saturday game against the winner of the Manhattan-South Carolina game played later Friday. Coastal will face the loser of  the Manhattan-USC game at noon Saturday.