Tigers Lose 3-2 to Okla. St. Saturday Night, Now Must Win Three to Advance


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON - The Clemson Tigers lost a tough one on Saturday night, but the road to redemption, and perhaps even Arizona, will start Sunday afternoon.

The top-seeded Tigers scored just two runs against Oklahoma St. at Doug Kingsmore in Game Four of the NCAA Regionals, eventually falling 3-2 to the third-seeded Cowboys, and now must win twice on Sunday and once on Monday if they hope to advance to the Super Regionals next weekend.

”That was a tough loss for us,” Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said. “Casey pitched a heck of a ballgame. We have to come back tomorrow, put this one behind us, try and win the first one, and try and win from here on out.”

Clemson’s Harman and Oklahoma St.’s Andrew Oliver matched each other pitch for pitch for six innings, and after Oliver shut down the Tigers in the top of the seventh, the Cowboys broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the inning.

Tom Belza, the Cowboy shortstop who hit three home runs on Friday (after hitting two all season), connected on a 1-2 slider and drove it deep down the right field line, the ball staying just to the left of the foul pole, for a home run and a 1-0 Oklahoma St. lead.

A sophomore, Belza came into the regionals with four career home runs, and matched that output through the first two games.

The next batter, Mark Ginther, connected for his fourth homer of the season, a shot deep into left center field, to chase Harman, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up just the two runs while striking out eight and walking two. Going into the Belza at-bat, Harman had retired 12 batters in a row.

Oklahoma St.’s Oliver held the Tigers scoreless for 7 1/3 innings, giving up several hard hit balls that were hit right at people, before faltering in the eighth. Brad Miller singled through the hole between short and third with one out, and John Nester, pinch hitting for Phil Pohl, singled through the middle to put runners on the corners with still the one out.

Chris Epps singled to right on a 3-2 pitch, after being down 1-2 in the count, to score Miller for the first Tiger run of the game. Mike Freeman promptly followed with a single to center, scoring Nester to tie the score at two. The Cowboys escaped a bases loaded jam without allowing any further runs when Parker popped to second with the bases loaded.

The Cowboys went back ahead with a double and a single in the bottom of the inning to re-take the lead at 3-2, however. Michael Dabbs hit a double that fell in between Boyd in center and Schaus in left. The ball appeared to be catchable, but it got between them for the double.

”I don’t know [what happened],” Leggett said of the double. “When it was hit, I thought it had a chance to drop. I don’t think they mis-communicated. I don’t know if he saw Jeff out of the corner of his eye or what happened, but it was unfortunate.”

Two batters later, Neil Medchill hit a rope that bounced off Ben Paulsen’s glove at first, and Dabbs was able to score the tiebreaking run, setting the stage for the Tigers to have another miraculous comeback. Tigers went down weakly in the ninth, however, and will now have to win three games to advance to the Super Regionals.

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said the Tigers hit the ball hard at times, but need more production if they want to advance.

”We put some good swings on the ball,” Leggett said. “We hit some balls hard, but we gotta find some holes. If we find one or two holes it is different. We have to get hits with men on base [Clemson left six men on base Saturday night] and get more productive. I think that is our biggest issue right now.”

Clemson will play Tennessee Tech at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Doug Kingsmore, with the winner of that game advancing to play Oklahoma St. at 7 p.m. The winner of the Clemson and Tech contest needs to beat the Cowboys Sunday night, then on Monday in a Game 7 to advance.

Leggett said that Chris Dwyer (3-3, 5.59 ERA this season) will start Sunday’s first game, and that the Tigers have plenty of arms rested to carry Clemson through three games.

”We have some pitching left, so we will be ok,” Leggett said. “We will throw Chris Dwyer tomorrow and just take it one day at a time, one game at a time. I think we have enough arms, we just have to hit the ball. Hopefully the fans will come out and support our kids.”

Clemson 2 (41-20)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Chris Epps dh............  3  0  1  1   0  1  0  0   0
Mike Freeman 2b..........  4  0  2  1   0  0  3  1   1
Jeff Schaus lf...........  4  0  0  0   0  3  1  0   0
Ben Paulsen 1b...........  3  0  2  0   1  0  7  0   0
Kyle Parker rf...........  4  0  1  0   0  2  1  0   3
Wilson Boyd cf...........  4  0  0  0   0  1  3  0   1
Jason Stolz 3b...........  2  0  0  0   0  1  0  1   1
 Matt Sanders ph/3b......  2  0  0  0   0  1  0  1   0
Brad Miller ss...........  3  1  1  0   1  0  0  3   0
Phil Pohl c..............  2  0  0  0   0  0  8  0   0
 John Nester ph/c........  1  1  1  0   0  0  1  0   0
Casey Harman p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  1   0
 Ryan Hinson p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Matt Vaughn p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 32  2  8  2   2  9 24  7   6

Oklahoma State 3 (34-22)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Micheal Dabbs cf/rf......  3  1  1  0   1  1  2  0   0
Tyrone Hambly 3b.........  4  0  0  0   0  0  1  0   0
Neil Medchill lf.........  4  0  2  1   0  2  2  0   1
Kevin David c............  4  0  0  0   0  1  8  2   2
Tom Belza ss.............  3  1  1  1   0  0  2  1   0
Mark Ginther dh..........  3  1  1  1   0  1  0  0   0
Davis Duren 2b...........  2  0  0  0   1  0  3  2   0
Doug Kroll rf............  3  0  0  0   0  2  0  0   1
 Dusty Harvard cf........  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  0   0
Dean Green 1b............  3  0  0  0   0  2  8  0   0
Andrew Oliver p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Randy McCurry p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 29  3  5  3   2  9 27  5   4

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Clemson............. 000 000 020 -  2  8  0
Oklahoma State...... 000 000 21X -  3  5  0
-------------------------------------------

DP - Oklahoma St. 2. LOB - Clemson 6; Oklahoma St. 4. 2B - FREEMAN(14);
PAULSEN(17); DABBS(14). HR - BELZA(6); GINTHER(4). HBP - EPPS. CS -
MILLER(5).

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Casey Harman........  6.1  3  2  2  2  8 22 24
Ryan Hinson.........  1.0  1  1  1  0  1  4  4
Matt Vaughn.........  0.2  1  0  0  0  0  3  3

Oklahoma State         IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Andrew Oliver.......  7.1  8  2  2  1  6 27 29
Randy McCurry.......  1.2  0  0  0  1  3  5  6

Win - McCURRY (4-1).  Loss - R. HINSON (2-1).  Save - None.
HBP - by OLIVER (EPPS). BK - HARMAN(4).
Umpires - HP: Randy Wetzel  1B: Dave Buck  2B: Perry Costello  3B: Mike Gillis
Start: 7:06 PM   Time: 2:29   Attendance: 5740
Game notes:
Game 4 of Clemson Regional.
Game televised by CSS.

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