Parker's Big Hit Sends Tigers to Super Regional


by - Senior Writer -
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Clemson celebrates its trip back to the Super Regionals. (Photos: fotoman)


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CLEMSON – Kyle Parker still has a little baseball left to play.

Parker jumped on an 0-1 breaking ball, lining a two-run, two-out single down the left field line, turning a 5-4 eighth inning deficit into a 6-5 Tiger lead and propelling the top-seeded Tigers past third see Oklahoma St. in the championship game of the NCAA Regionals at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Clemson now joins college baseball’s Sweet 16 and will travel to Tempe, Arizona on Friday to take on Arizona St. in the Super Regional in a Best-of-3 series that will determine a spot in the College World Series.

Parker did not start the contest, entering as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, and was just 17-for-96 (.177 average) since mid-April after a 40-for-117 (.342) start to the season, and hit a foul fly to first base in his first at-bat to make him just 1-for-10 in the regional.

Redemption was not far behind, however, as Parker jumped on a hanging breaking ball to plate the two runs, and showed his excitement when he reached first base with several fist pumps.

”You are definitely just in the moment,” Parker said later. “It is just exciting that we got the lead and ended up winning. I have been feeling comfortable; it’s just that things haven’t been happening for me. That is how baseball is.”

Parker said that not starting the past two games was disappointing, but he understood the reasons and was glad to get the chance to make amends.

”You know, it is definitely disappointing,” Parker said. “You just have to look at the big picture and that is the biggest thing. I knew I hadn’t been performing the way I was capable of. I knew I was going to get another opportunity. I knew from the get-go of the game that if it came up that we needed a run or needed something, I was going to be the guy, so I just tried to keep my head in it.”

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said he was proud of the way his team battled in the come-from-behind win.

”I am just so proud of our team,” Leggett said. “We battled. Tonight was a battle. It was a measure of toughness, and I am just so proud of how they came along. I thought we went out there, got a little bit behind early, but we got some good hits, some huge hits, and came alive offensively.”

The Cowboys jumped on Clemson starter Ryan Hinson in the top of the second when catcher Kevin David singled up the middle to lead off the inning. Tom Belza doubled to left center to score David, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored two batters later on a Davis Duren single.

The Cowboys upped their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Mark Ginther led off the inning with his fifth home run of the season, a shot down the left field that apparently curved just inside the left field foul pole.

The Tigers finally dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, and they did it with two outs. Chris Epps drilled a double over the left fielder’s head, and then scored when Mike Freeman lined a triple (just out of the reach of a diving right fielder) down the right field line, trimming the Cowboy advantage to 3-1.

Three errors in the seventh inning led to two more Cowboy runs, giving Clemson a 5-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the inning, when the Tigers would strike back.

The first two Clemson batters failed to reach base, but Matt Sanders reached on a throwing error, and Epps promptly took advantage by depositing a home run over the left field wall, contributing to his being named the Tournament MVP . Freeman, an All-Tournament selection, followed that with a double down the left field line, and he scored to make it 5-4 when Schaus lined a single into right center field. Schaus was thrown out trying to take second base on the throw, but the Tigers had their sliver of hope.

That hope was realized in the next inning, with Paulsen leading off the inning with a walk. Boyd struck out looking, and Miller lined out center, but that two-out magic struck again when John Nester doubled to left center to put runners at second and third.

The Cowboys changed pitchers, from Tyler Lyons to Randy McCurry, who got ahead with a quick strike, but Parker jumped on the breaking ball for the hit that sends the Tigers to Tempe.

”John Nester had that big hit, big double, and then Kyle Parker got that huge hit for us,” Leggett said. “We just battled. We deserved to win, we deserved to come back and have another weekend of baseball.”

The Tigers received 4 1/3 innings from Tomas Cruz, giving up one earned run after replacing Hinson in the second inning, then turned to senior Matt Vaughn for the final 3 2/3 innings to pick up the win. Vaughn allowed just the two unearned runs, striking out two and walking one.

Oklahoma State 5 (34-24)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Micheal Dabbs cf.........  5  1  2  0   0  0  2  0   3
Tyrone Hambly 3b.........  4  1  0  0   0  2  1  1   0
Neil Medchill lf.........  5  0  1  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Dusty Harvard pr........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Kevin David c............  3  1  1  1   1  0  6  2   0
Tom Belza ss.............  4  1  1  2   1  0  2  5   1
Mark Ginther dh..........  3  1  1  1   2  1  0  0   3
Davis Duren 2b...........  4  0  3  1   0  0  0  1   0
Doug Kroll rf............  3  0  1  0   0  2  2  1   0
Dean Green 1b............  4  0  0  0   0  1 11  0   2
Tyler Lyons p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Randy McCurry p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Andrew Oliver p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 35  5 10  5   4  6 24 10  10

Clemson 6 (44-20)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Chris Epps dh............  4  2  2  2   0  0  0  0   2
Mike Freeman 2b..........  4  1  3  1   0  0  3  4   0
Jeff Schaus lf...........  4  0  1  1   0  1  3  1   3
Ben Paulsen 1b...........  3  1  0  0   1  1  6  1   0
Wilson Boyd rf/cf........  4  0  0  0   0  3  0  0   0
Brad Miller ss...........  3  0  1  0   1  0  3  2   0
John Nester c............  4  1  1  0   0  0  7  0   2
Addison Johnson cf.......  2  0  0  0   0  2  3  0   0
 Kyle Parker ph/rf.......  2  0  1  2   0  0  0  0   0
Jason Stolz 3b...........  1  0  0  0   0  0  0  1   0
 Matt Sanders ph/3b......  3  1  1  0   0  0  0  0   0
Ryan Hinson p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Tomas Cruz p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  1   0
 Matt Vaughn p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  0   0
Totals................... 34  6 10  6   2  7 27 10   7

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Oklahoma State...... 020 100 200 -  5 10  2
Clemson............. 000 010 32X -  6 10  3
-------------------------------------------

E - HAMBLY 2(5); SCHAUS(2); PAULSEN(8); SANDERS(7). DP - Clemson 1. LOB -
Oklahoma St. 10; Clemson 7. 2B - BELZA(12); DUREN(9); KROLL(8); EPPS(6);
FREEMAN(16); NESTER(10). 3B - FREEMAN(5). HR - GINTHER(5); EPPS(4). HBP -
EPPS. SH - HAMBLY(14); KROLL(4). SF - DAVID(2).

Oklahoma State         IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Tyler Lyons.........  7.2  8  6  3  2  7 31 34
Randy McCurry.......  0.0  2  0  0  0  0  2  2
Andrew Oliver.......  0.1  0  0  0  0  0  1  1

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Ryan Hinson.........  1.0  3  2  2  1  0  6  7
Tomas Cruz..........  4.1  4  1  1  2  4 15 18
Matt Vaughn.........  3.2  3  2  0  1  2 14 17

Win - VAUGHN (4-1).  Loss - LYONS (7-6).  Save - None.
WP - R. HINSON(3). HBP - by LYONS (EPPS).
Umpires - HP: Perry Costello  1B: Dave Buck  2B: Mike Gillis  3B: Jason Rogers
Start: 7:06 PM   Time: 2:38   Attendance: 6217
Game notes:
Game 7 of Clemson Regional.
Game televised by CSS.
Oklahoma State Head Coach Frank Anderson ejected in the ninth inning.
R. HINSON faced 4 batters in the 2nd.
McCURRY faced 2 batters in the 8th.

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