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McGibbon's walkoff blast keeps Tigers' hopes alive


  by - Senior Writer - Friday, May 25, 2012 8:20 PM
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Clemson's Jon McGibbon (12) jumps into his teammates' arms after hitting the winning homerun during the ACC Baseball Championship. (Sara D. Davis/theACC.com)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jon McGibbonJon McGibbon
So. 1st Base
#12 6-1, 210
Lindenhurst, NY

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stepped to the plate in the late afternoon sun Friday, the bottom of the ninth and his team trailing, and he knew he might have had Clemson’s postseason chances in his hands.

He delivered.

McGibbon drilled an 0-1 slider off of Florida St. reliever Robert Benincasa over the right-center wall for a 3-run homer, carrying the Tigers to an improbable 9-7 come-from-behind win over top-seeded Florida St. in the ACC Tournament at New Bridge Bank Park in Greensboro, giving the Tigers hope that they can still play in the tournament final Sunday afternoon.

For Clemson to make the final, Clemson would have to beat Georgia Tech on Saturday, and then Florida St. has to knock out Virginia later in the day.

“I think our kids really battled hard today,” Clemson head coach Jack LeggettJack Leggett
Baseball Head Coach
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said. “That was a grind from the very beginning. We scored one run, then give up four in the third inning, and we had to battle to keep ourselves in the ballgame. Every time we seemed to get ourselves closer they would grab another run. But I am really proud of how they battled. Our season has been like that, and we have been used to that. And Jon’s home run at the end was big. It was a team effort.”

Florida St. led 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth, and when Richie ShafferRichie Shaffer
Jr. 3rd Base
#8 6-3, 205
Charlotte, NC

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struck out to begin the frame, the Tigers’ chances looked bleak indeed. However, senior Phil PohlPhil Pohl
Sr. Catcher
#9 5-11, 215
Cooperstown, NY

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rapped a single up the middle to begin the rally, and he was replaced by pinch-runner Dominic AttanasioDominic Attanasio
So. Outfielder
#1 5-7, 160
Windermere, FL

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.

Mike DunsterMike Dunster
So. Infielder
#10 5-10, 180
Greenwich, CT

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stepped in as a pinch-hitter, and his high hopper to first wasn’t fielded cleanly by the FSU first baseman, setting up McGibbon’s heroics. He got into a quick 0-1 hole, but then drilled Beninsaca’s second pitch just to the left of the scoreboard, setting off pandemonium among his teammates, who waited for him at home plate.

“It was a slider right down the middle,” McGibbon said afterward. “The scouting report was that he would stay with his slider. The first pitch was a little in, but he came back with it again on the second pitch, and it was right there, down the middle.”

Friday’s blast was the second walk-off homer of his career – he also did last year against Coastal Carolina – but said this one topped that last year’s.

“This one feels a little better,” he said. “I came in here just wanting to focus on hitting the ball hard. He left the pitch right there, and I was fortunate to drive it. That is what I have been doing lately.”


Clemson led 1-0, but trailed 4-1 and later 7-4, but Spencer KieboomSpencer Kieboom
Jr. Catcher
#22 6-0, 220
Marietta, GA

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had a clutch, two-run single that drew Clemson within hailing distance of the Noles.

The Tigers, who would have been knocked from title contention with a loss, will face Georgia Tech at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Leggett said he thinks his team still has a lot to prove.

“I have always believed in our team,” he said. “I think there is so much left in our tank. We have been playing so hard, and had some ups and down. I would think in the postseason, we would be a team that people wouldn’t want to come up against. That’s how I feel about this team. We just need people to step up big, like today. I am excited to get up and play Georgia Tech on Saturday.”



Quotes


Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett

Opening Statement…

“First thing I’d like to say is that we’re missing a very close fan of ours in Gary Girmindl. He died yesterday of a
heart attack on the way home from our game, and we want to give a shout out to him and his family and what
he meant to our baseball program. He was at many practices and always yelling positive for us, and he was kind of watching over us today.
It was a good one for him. On the other side of things, I think our kids really battled hard today. That was a grind from the very beginning.
Every time we seemed to get closer, Florida State would grab one (a run). Our relief pitching was good I thought. Our kids played hard today,
and I’m really proud of how they battled because they could have caved in at several points in the ball game. It was a team effort, and we
did a lot of good things along the way.”

On Jon McGibbon’s walkoff home run…

“Well that was a huge hit. In my mind, I was trying to talk the team into thinking we were going to win the game 6-5, and you have to visualize it. Then Florida State grabs a couple more runs and made it 7-4, and we had to battle our way back. Spencer (Kieboom) got us back in
the ballgame there, and we got a couple of big hits.”

On his team’s mentality as they prepare to face Georgia Tech tomorrow…

“There’s just so much in this team’s tank right now. I’m excited about getting out tomorrow and playing against Georgia Tech. We’ll come
out here ready to battle tomorrow morning.”

Florida State Coach Mike Martin

On the difficulties inherent in taking the field after having been eliminated from title contention

“If you’re not a mentally tough team or if you don’t have experience or leadership, you’re going to walk into that game with a deer-in-headlights
mentality. You don’t take for granted the opportunity to play the game.”

On the shock of the game-ending homer

“That’s baseball. That’s why it’s the greatest game. It can turn that quickly.”

On his team’s play after knowing it had been eliminated from title contention

“I was so proud with the way we played today in a so-called meaningless game. The content of the season, the 56 games you played before
the tournament, is certainly important, but the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament is very important also. And the fact that we knew we
had no chance to win it but still played with that fire and emotion makes me very proud as a coach. I feel badly for them, but I assure you
that somewhere in this country, the sun will rise tomorrow and, God willing, we will play again.



2012 Clemson Baseball
#1 Florida State vs Clemson
May 25, 2012 at Greensboro, NC (NewBridge Bank Park)

Florida State 7 (43-14)

Player			AB	R	H	RBI	BB	SO	PO	A	LOB
Sherman Johnson 3b	3	1	0	0	2	2	2	2	0
Devon Travis 2b		4	2	1	1	1	1	2	1	0
James Ramsey cf		4	1	2	2	1	1	2	0	0
Jayce Boyd 1b		5	1	3	1	0	0	3	2	0
Stephen McGee c		3	0	1	0	1	1	8	0	5
Justin Gonzalez ss	4	1	2	2	1	1	2	0	0
Josh Delph rf		5	0	0	0	0	1	1	0	1
Seth Miller dh		5	0	0	0	0	3	0	0	4
Jose Brizuela lf	3	1	2	0	1	0	3	0	0
Brandon Leibrandt p	0	0	0	0	0	0	2	1	0
 Gage Smith p	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
 Bryant Holtmann p	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
 Robert Benincasa p	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
Totals......		36	7	11	6	7	10	25	6	10

Clemson 9 (33-25)

Player			AB	R	H	RBI	BB	SO	PO	A	LOB
Steve Wilkerson 2b	5	0	0	0	0	1	0	1	0
Thomas Brittle cf	5	1	1	0	0	2	5	0	2
Richie Shaffer 3b	3	1	1	1	2	1	1	0	0
Phil Pohl dh		5	1	2	0	0	1	0	0	3
 Dominic Attanasio pr	0	1	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
Jay Baum lf		3	0	0	0	0	0	1	0	1
 Joe Costigan ph	1	0	1	0	0	0	0	0	0
 Tyler Slaton pr/lf	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
 Mike Dunster ph	1	1	1	0	0	0	0	0	0
Jon McGibbon 1b		5	2	3	4	0	0	5	1	0
Jason Stolz ss		3	2	0	0	1	0	2	1	0
Brad Felder rf		3	0	0	0	1	1	1	0	1
Spencer Kieboom c	4	0	2	2	0	0	11	2	1
Dominic Leone p		0	0	0	0	0	0	1	0	0
 Kevin Brady p		0	0	0	0	0	0	0	1	0
 David Haselden p	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
 Patrick Andrews p	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0	0
Totals......		38	9	11	7	4	6	27	6	8

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Florida State....... 004 010 020 -  7 11  2
Clemson............. 010 120 023 -  9 11  0
-------------------------------------------

Note: 1 out, 0 runners LOB when the game ended.

E - TRAVIS(7); GONZALEZ(18). LOB - Florida St. 10; Clemson 8. 2B -
TRAVIS(21); BRITTLE(8); SHAFFER(19); POHL(11); McGIBBON(6). HR -
GONZALEZ(8); McGIBBON(5). SH - McGEE(3). SB - WILKERSON(10); STOLZ(5). CS -
BRIZUELA(4).

Florida State		IP	H	R	ER	BB	SO	AB	BF
Brandon Leibrandt	6.2	5	4	2	2	3	27	29
Gage Smith		0.2	2	2	2	1	1	4	5
Bryant Holtmann		0.0	0	0	0	1	0	0	1
Robert Benincasa	1.0	4	3	3	0	2	7	7

Clemson			IP	H	R	ER	BB	SO	AB	BF
Dominic Leone		2.1	6	4	4	2	2	12	15
Kevin Brady		1.2	1	0	0	2	2	6	8
David Haselden		3.2	4	3	3	3	5	14	17
Patrick Andrews		1.1	0	0	0	0	1	4	4

Win - ANDREWS (2-3).  Loss - BENINCASA (4-1).  Save - None.
WP - BRADY(6); ANDREWS(7). BK - BRADY(3).
Umpires - HP: Morris Hodges  1B: Danny Everett  2B: Frank Sylvester  3B: Jacob
Asher  Start: 3:22 PM   Time: 3:30   Attendance: 3282
HOLTMANN faced 1 batter in the 8th.

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