Clemson Baseball Swoon May Cost It ACC Title


by - Correspondent -
    |

CLEMSON, SC -- The recent inability to close out innings has been a frustrating
malady for Clemson down the stretch. It also may cost the Tigers the Atlantic
Coast Conference regular season championship.


Second-ranked Florida State scored seven unearned runs with two outs in the
top of the fifth inning, blowing open a close game and rolling to a 12-3 win
over No. 1 Clemson Saturday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The victory
pushes the Seminoles (50-12, 17-6 ACC) one full game ahead of the Tigers in
the race for the conference championship.


The Tigers (44-1, 16-7) also trail Wake Forest (41-9, 16-6) by a half-game,
and find themselves tied with North Carolina (38-17, 16-7) for third. The
Seminoles can with the conference outright with a win in today's series
finale. A Clemson win could trigger a three-way tie for first place if North
Carolina wins and Wake Forest loses.


However a Wake Forest win coupled with a Clemson victory would give the Demon
Deacons the conference title by virtue of finishing with the best winning
percentage. Wake Forest has played one less conference game than the other
schools thanks to a rainout with Georgia Tech on March 17.


Florida State led 3-2 entering the fifth when Bryan Zech reached on second
baseman David Slevin's error to leadoff the frame. Had Slevin made the play
on the routine grounder, the inning would have ended four batters later with
no runs scoring after Ryan Barthelemy grounded out to short.


As it was, Zech scored one out earlier on a single by Stephen Drew, and
Barthelemy's grounder proved to be just the second out of the inning and
allowed Drew - who had stolen second and moved to third when catcher Colin
Mahoney's throw sailed into centerfield - to score. Blair McCaleb's
run-scoring single off losing pitcher Matt Henrie (10-3) made it 6-2 FSU and
chased the Tigers' starter.


Freshman Jeff Hourigan relieved Henrie and faced just five batters, giving up
a single and three consecutive doubles - the last Zech's second plate
appearance of the inning that accounted for four more runs and a 10-2
Seminoles' lead. After a walk to Mike Futrell, Hourigan was pulled in favor
of Thomas Boozer.


Boozer mercifully retired Drew on a grounder to third to end the inning and,
effectively, the game.


Florida State added single runs off Boozer in the sixth and eighth innings.
The Tigers pushed across their final run in the bottom of the eighth on a
Jarrod Schmidt groundout.


Clemson had taken a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jeff Baker crashed his
21st homer of the year over the fence in right. The Seminoles tied it in the
third, but the Tigers went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning when Slevin
scored on an error.


Florida State scored twice fourth to take the lead - the go ahead run coming
on a single by Tony Richie that scored Barthelemy - setting the stage for the
decisive fifth inning.


Seminole starter Blair Varnes (7-3) pitched into the eighth inning for the
victory.


Clemson's Khalil Greene extended his hitting streak to 21 straight games with
a single to center in the third.


The teams wrap up the three-game series - and the regular season - at 2 p.m.
today.

Florida State 12 (50-12,17-6)

Player              AB  R   H   RBI BB  SO  PO  A   LOB
Drew, Stephen ss    5   1   1   1   0   0   2   2   2
McQuade, Tony lf    4   3   2   0   1   1   3   0   0
Barthelemy, Ryan 3b 5   1   2   2   0   0   0   2   0
McCaleb, Blair dh   4   1   1   1   0   1   0   0   0
Brown, Jerrod 1b    5   1   1   1   0   2   3   1   0
Richie, Tony c      5   2   3   3   0   2   9   0   1
Smith, Richie cf    5   2   2   2   0   1   3   0   1
Zech, Bryan 2b      4   1   1   1   0   0   5   0   0
Futrell, Mike rf    3   0   0   1   1   1   1   0   0
Varnes, Blair p     0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0
 Lynch, Kevin p     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Totals......        40  12  13  12  2   8   27  5   4

Clemson 3 (44-11,16-7)

Player              AB  R   H   RBI BB  SO  PO  A   LOB
DeMaino, L.J. lf    5   0   1   0   0   0   2   0   0
Frank, Kyle cf      5   0   0   0   0   1   1   0   0
Greene, Khalil ss   4   1   1   0   1   0   0   6   2
Baker, Jeff 3b      4   1   1   1   0   3   1   1   2
Johnson, Michael 1b 3   0   1   0   1   1   14  0   0
Schmidt, Jarrod rf  4   0   1   1   0   1   1   0   0
Triplett, R dh      3   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Green, Zane ph/dh  0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0
Slevin, David 2b    4   1   1   0   0   0   0   5   5
Mahoney, Collin c   3   0   0   0   0   1   8   0   0
 Miller, Seth ph    1   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0
Henrie, Matt p      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   0
 Hourigan, Jeff p   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Boozer, Thomas p   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Totals......        36  3   6   2   3   8   27  14  9

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Florida State....... 001 271 001 - 12 13  3
Clemson............. 011 000 010 -  3  6  2
-------------------------------------------

E - BARTHELEMY(15); BROWN(7); ZECH(24); SLEVIN(8); 
MAHONEY(5). LOB - Florida St. 4; Clemson 9. 2B - 
RICHIE(13); ZECH(13); JOHNSON(13); SLEVIN(8). 3B - 
McQUADE(3). HR - RICHIE(9); BAKER(21). SH - McCALEB(1). 
SB - DREW(9); SMITH(11).

Florida State       IP  H   R   ER  BB  SO  AB  BF  NP
Varnes, Blair       7.2 6   3   2   3   7   31  34
Lynch, Kevin        1.1 0   0   0   0   1   5   5

Clemson             IP  H   R   ER  BB  SO  AB  BF  NP
Henrie, Matt        4.2 6   7   3   1   1   20  22
Hourigan, Jeff      0.0 4   3   3   1   0   4   5
Boozer, Thomas      4.1 3   2   2   0   7   16  16

Win - VARNES (7-3).  Loss - HENRIE (10-3).  Save - None.
PB - MAHONEY(7).
Umpires - Home:Mark McGill  1st:Scott Erby  
3rd:Scott Graham
Start: 6:59   Time: 2:37   Attendance: 5218
HOURIGAN faced 5 batters in the 5th.


Bonus Coverage


CLEMSON, SC - Florida State used another big fifth inning to take a commanding lead and cruise to a 12-3 victory Saturday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The second-ranked Seminoles improved to 50-12 overall and 17-6 in the ACC while dropping the top-ranked Tigers to 44-11 overall and 16-7 in the ACC.


After scoring six runs in the fifth inning on Friday, Florida State broke open Saturday's game with seven runs in the fifth. The Seminoles earned their 16th straight win and is the first team to take a series at Clemson in 2002.


Blair Varnes (7-3) earned his 38th career win for Florida State, allowing only two earned runs and six hits over 7.2 innings while striking out seven and walking three. Matt Henrie (10-3) allowed seven runs, including three earned, over 4.2 innings in getting the loss for Clemson.


Jeff Baker started the scoring in the second inning with a towering shot to right field. The solo home run was his team-leading 21st of the season and 55th of his career, extending his own school record and good enough for a seventh place tie in ACC history. The Seminoles tied the score at one in the top of the third when Mike Futrell's groundout scored Richie Smith.


Clemson retook the lead in the third. David Slevin led off the inning with a double and scored on an error by Florida State first baseman Jerrod Brown for a 2-1 lead. Florida State answered again in the fourth and took its first lead of the game. After consecutive singles by Tony McQuade and Ryan Barthelemy, the runners scored on a Brown groundout and Tony Richie's single through the left side to put the Seminoles on top 3-2.


Florida State chased Henrie with seven unearned runs in the fifth inning. Stephen Drew's hit an RBI-single to center and scored on a groundout by Barthelemy. With two outs, Blair McCaleb singled in a run before reliever Jeff Hourigan entered the game. The freshman gave up four straight hits, including an RBI-single to Brown, an RBI-double down the left field line to Richie, a two-run single to Smith and an RBI-double to Bryan Zech. Thomas Boozer recorded the last out of the inning, but not after Florida State took a 10-2 advantage.


The Seminoles added a run in the sixth before Clemson scored a run in the eighth on Jarrod Schmidt's groundout. Florida State's Richie hit a solo home run in the ninth to make the final margin 12-3. Khalil Greene extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a single in the third inning, but no Tiger had more than one hit on the evening.


Florida State can clinch the regular season ACC Championship with a win in Sunday's game three. Freshman Tyler Lumsden (2-0, 4.50 ERA) will take the hill for Clemson while Marc LaMacchia (8-1, 3.44 ERA) is expected to start for Florida State.

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