CLEMSON - As Clemson made its impressive stretch run which culminated with the team hosting an NCAA Regional this weekend, there was no hotter Tiger than junior pitcher Josh Cribb.
After a bit of a lull during the middle third of the season - a malady which seemed to strike all Clemson starters - Cribb finished with a flourish:
He tossed a complete game shutout at Virginia Tech, picked up a win with three innings of one-run relief at Wake Forest, went seven strong innings (two runs) against Miami in the final regular-season series, and beat the Hurricanes again last Friday in the ACC Tournament with a complete game (one run).
In those four appearances, encompassing 28 total innings, Cribb is 4-0 with a 1.29 earned run average.
Even he is hard pressed to remember a time in his college career when he threw the ball more effectively.
"I don't think so. The last four or five games I've been throwing the ball real well," Cribb said. "But it comes along with the territory. If you hit your spots you're throwing well, and I think that's the main thing I've been doing lately. I'm hitting my spots and been able to throw all my pitches for strikes.
"That helps out in the long run."
Thanks in part to Cribb's success, Clemson won 22 of its final 28 regular season games before going 2-2 in the ACC Tournament.
The strong finish took the Tigers from a team seemingly destined to travel for the regionals to one of 16 hosts across the country. That usually spells good news for Clemson. The Tigers are 27-7 all time at home in the NCAA Tournament, 24-5 under current head coach Jack Leggett - including 13 of its last 14.
All of which made the strong finish that much more important.
"That's one of your goals at the beginning of the season. You want to host a regional," Cribb said. "You get to play at home and get the fans behind you. It's going to be a tough regional, but that's normally how it is when you get to (the final) 64 teams.
"We got to play our best baseball this weekend."
- Clemson will be making its 31st appearance in the NCAA baseball tournament this weekend, one of just six schools to go to at least 30 baseball regionals.
The Tigers have also been to 27 bowl games in its history, making the Clemson sports program one of just six schools nationally to compete in at least 25 bowl games and 25
NCAA baseball tournaments.
The other five schools to compete in at least 25 of each are Florida State, Miami (FL), Oklahoma, Southern Cal and Texas. It is interesting to note that three of the six schools are from the ACC.
- North Carolina A&T, College of Charleston and Oral Roberts will each get their first full workouts at Doug Kingsmore on Thursday.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.