Tiger Nation Prepares To Storm Omaha


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Omaha.


It's printed on the back of Clemson's baseball caps every season as a subtle reminder of the team's ultimate goal every year. It's what 64 teams started playing for over a week ago, but what just eight will attain:


A trip to Omaha and the College World Series.


And thanks to great relief pitching from Sean Clark and David Kopp, to go along with clutch hitting from Taylor Harbin and Stan Widmann, the Tigers are one of the eight teams with a ticket punched for Rosenblatt Stadium.


Widmann's two out, two-run single in the top of the eighth inning gave a Clemson (52-14) a 6-5 lead over Oral Roberts Saturday, and Kopp made it stand up with a near-spotless performance on the mound. The one-run win gave the Tigers a 2-0 sweep over Oral Roberts in the Super Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and means the next time the team takes the field in competition it will be at the CWS.


"These were probably two of the toughest ballgames we’ve played back-to-back all year long," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said afterwards. "(Oral Roberts) showed a lot of resolve last night and a lot today. Fortunately, our kids matched it. We played extremely tough.


"You probably saw two of the hottest teams in college baseball on the field this weekend. That’s why the games were so close."


Previous celebrations after winning the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Regionals had been subdued, almost businesslike.


But not Saturday night.


Even before rightfielder D.J. Mitchell squeezed a fly ball from Carter McQuigg for the game's final out, Clemson players erupted from the first base dugout. Once Mitchell made the catch, the pileup began on the third base side of the mound and seemed to last forever.


Hugs were handed out and tears of joy flowed as fireworks went off overhead.


Eventually the mob scene settled down long enough for the playing of the school alma mater, but upon its completion nearly the entire Clemson team made a beeline for the right-centerfield fence to greet the Cheap Seats fans who were partying atop their rickety old bus beyond the wall.


“I can’t describe the feeling. It was amazing," Kopp said. "I wanted to go out there and put the team in a situation to win the ballgame. When Stan (Widmann) came up with his hit, I wanted to go out and attack their hitters and throw strikes. I let the defense do the work behind me.


"It was an unreal feeling (pile-on celebration); something I’ll be able to tell my kids about someday.”


For a while it looked as though any such celebration might have to wait until Monday night.


Oral Roberts (41-16) took advantage of two Clemson errors and a shaky start from Stephen Faris to grab a 4-0 lead after three innings. Three of the runs were unearned because of the fielding mistakes, but Leggett still wasted little time pulling Faris after he allowed the fourth run with two outs in the third inning.


On came Sean Clark, who has turned himself into a Clemson postseason legend in the last three weeks. The righthander didn't disappoint this time, either, calming down matters over the next three-plus innings and giving his teammates time to regroup.


The Tigers took advantage of the second wind in the fourth inning when, with two out and two on, Harbin launched a three-run home run off Chris Ashman into the parking lot in left-center. The blow cut the Golden Eagles' lead to 4-3.


“This team has shown that kind of character all year," said senior Herman Demmink. "It’s been evident in the past few games. Once we were down 4-0 and we were still in the third inning, coach pulled us aside and reminded us that we played a tough ballgame yesterday.


"It was big for us to have Taylor (Harbin) come up and get a three-run home run. Luckily, we came out on top.”


Clark tired in the seventh and left with one out and runners on first and third. Kopp came on and gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3, and retired the next batter to end the inning.


Clemson then put together its final rally in the eighth off ORU losing pitcher Erick Crichton (5-1). Again it was Harbin striking first with a two-out RBI single to drive in one run.


Then, after a walk to D'Alessio loaded the bases, Widmann lined a 1-2 pitch over shortstop to score two runs and give the Tigers the lead, 6-5.


“I wanted to protect; I didn’t want to strike out looking," Widmann said. "He just gave me a pitch over the plate that I could handle. I just put a good swing on it and somehow it got through. They had me guessing the whole weekend. When I was thinking slider, they were throwing fastballs. When I was thinking fastball, they were sliders.


"I was thinking pretty much ‘see the ball, hit the ball’ at the point. It looked like the shortstop was going to catch it, but somehow it was out of reach.”

All that was left was for Kopp to finish it up, and he did virtually unscathed. He allowed a hit in the eighth but ended the inning by inducing a double-play ground ball to Widmann at short. And he retired the Golden Eagles in order in the ninth inning, the final out coming on McQuigg's fly to Mitchell in right.

“Our goal is obviously to win the national championship. We’re going to enjoy this and come back to practice at 2 p.m. on Monday," said Leggett. "We’ll get out there and get ourselves ready to go. We’re playing a very good team (Georgia Tech) that we’re very familiar with. They’re an excellent offensive team and I’m sure they know they are looking at us and know they have a great challenge ahead of them too.


"We’re going out there to win. We’ll get refocused and get squared away about when we’re going to get out there. Then we’ll get zeroed in on what we have to do to get the next prize.”


Clemson will open College World Series play Friday vs.the Yellow Jackets, who swept the College of Charleston in the Atlanta Super Regional.


Game time for Friday has not yet been set.


Clemson 6 (52-14)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Herman Demmink dh........  5  1  2  0   0  1  0  0   1
Brad Chalk cf............  4  0  1  0   1  1  2  0   0
Marquez Smith 3b.........  3  1  0  0   1  0  0  2   0
Tyler Colvin lf..........  4  2  2  0   0  0  2  0   0
Taylor Harbin 2b.........  3  2  2  4   0  0  1  0   0
Andy D'Alessio 1b........  3  0  0  0   1  1  6  0   2
Stan Widmann ss..........  3  0  1  2   1  0  2  2   0
D.J. Mitchell rf.........  4  0  0  0   0  2  4  0   2
Adrian Casanova c........  4  0  0  0   0  0  9  0   0
Stephen Faris p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  1   0
 Sean Clark p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 David Kopp p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  1   0
Totals................... 33  6  8  6   4  5 27  6   5

Oral Roberts 5 (41-16)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Brendan Duffy rf.........  5  1  2  1   0  1  5  0   1
Tim Torres ss............  3  1  1  0   2  0  2  2   1
Jake Kahaulelio 2b.......  4  0  1  1   1  0  2  2   3
Chad Rothford 1b.........  4  0  0  0   1  3  9  0   0
Andy Bouchie c...........  4  0  1  1   0  2  4  1   3
Kelly Minissale cf.......  5  1  2  1   0  1  3  0   0
Carter McQuigg 3b........  4  1  1  0   0  1  1  2   3
Travis DeBondt dh........  4  1  2  0   0  0  0  0   0
Pat Warfle lf............  2  0  0  1   0  1  1  0   0
Chris Ashman p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  3   0
 Erik Crichton p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Sean Jarrett p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 35  5 10  5   4  9 27 10  11

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Clemson............. 000 300 030 -  6  8  2
Oral Roberts........ 211 000 100 -  5 10  0
-------------------------------------------

E - M. SMITH(5); D'ALESSIO(3). DP - Clemson 1; Oral Roberts 1. 
LOB - Clemson 5; Oral Roberts 11. 2B - DeBONDT(14). 
HR - HARBIN(9). HBP - HARBIN; WARFLE. SH - McQUIGG(9). 
SF - BOUCHIE(4); WARFLE(3). SB - DeBONDT(4).

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Stephen Faris.......  2.2  6  4  1  3  3 14 19
Sean Clark..........  3.2  3  1  1  1  6 14 16
David Kopp..........  2.2  1  0  0  0  0  7  8

Oral Roberts           IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Chris Ashman........  6.0  4  3  3  3  3 20 24
Erik Crichton.......  1.2  4  3  3  1  1  9 10
Sean Jarrett........  1.1  0  0  0  0  1  4  4

Win - KOPP (6-1).  Loss - CRICHTON (5-1).  Save - None.
WP - FARIS 2(8). HBP - by CLARK (WARFLE); by ASHMAN (HARBIN). 
BK - ASHMAN(3). 
Umpires - HP: John Kleis  1B: Jim Garman  2B: Darrin Sealey  
3B: Mark Chapman
Start: 4:06   Time: 3:28   Attendance: 5617
Game notes:
Game 2 of Clemson (SC) Super Regional.

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