Clemson Crushes Georgia Southern 15-1 in Regional


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Clemson's start to college baseball's second season Friday night was strikingly similar to its first.


Harkening back to their dominating offensive displays from earlier this year, the Tigers pounded out 15 hits - including six home runs - in a 15-1 drubbing of Georgia Southern in the opening round of the NCAA Regional Tournament at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.


The victory advances Clemson (48-14) to today's winner's bracket game at 3 p.m., where it will face East Carolina. The Pirates dropped Elon, 13-7, the day's first game.


"It's been a while since we've kind of distanced ourselves from another team," said Clemson head coach Jack Leggett. "We just happened to hit it right and saw both their pitchers pretty well. It felt good to get ourselves into a situation where we weren't having to press and scramble late in a ballgame."


Khalil Greene celebrated being named Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Year earlier in the day with a 5-for-5 performance - a single, two doubles and two home runs. In three games against Georgia Southern (38-24), Greene is 13-for-14 (.928) with four doubles, four homers, 11 RBI, seven runs scored and 29 total bases.


His second home run, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, came on a 3-0 pitch with first base open.


Jeff Baker also homered twice, including going back-to-back with Greene in the fourth inning, meaning he and Greene each have 24 on the year. That ties the Clemson single-season record held jointly by Matthew LeCroy (1997) and Eric Macrina (1991).


"They're both exceptional baseball players," Leggett said of his two sluggers. "I wouldn't normally classify Khalil as a power hitter, but his swing is so good and his bat so quick right now that he can swing the bat with a little bit of power.


"Jeff is one of premier power hitters in the country. If you make a mistake and he's sitting on the pitch he thinks is coming, he's as good as it gets."


Zane Green added a two-run shot to the onslaught, his first homer of the year, and later Kyle Frank also left the yard with a runner on base.


The six home runs doubles the previous Clemson record for long balls in an NCAA Tournament game.


The offensive explosion was a welcome sight to starting pitcher Steve Reba (13-2), who allowed just four hits and a run - Matt Hammond's solo homer in the second inning - in his six innings. Leggett pulled Reba with an 11-1 lead and a hopeful eye on Sunday.


"He was up around 70 pitches, and we felt (Ryan) Childs could finish it out for us," Leggett said. "I asked him how much he could give us Sunday if necessary and he said he could go nine. But we've got to worry about (today) first."


Georgia Southern starter Dennis Dove (7-4) left after just 2 1/3 innings due to tendonitis in his right shoulder. Trailing 5-1 at the time, Scott Tolbert came on and finished the game, absorbing 10 runs in the process but, at the same time, saving the rest of the Eagles' pitching staff for the possibility of two games today.


"You want to get at least 5-6 innings out of your starter...you don't want to go to the bullpen in the second inning," said GSU coach Rodney Hennon. "But one thing Scott did do for us was finish the game, which rested a few arms for (today)."


The Eagles are back at it at 11 a.m. today against Elon in an elimination game. The winner advances to play the loser of the Clemson-East Carolina game at 7 p.m.


Georgia Southern 1 (38-24)

Player              AB  R   H   RBI BB  SO  PO  A   LOB
Hall, Chad 2b       4   0   0   0   0   0   3   4   1
Walker, Chris cf    4   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Spearman, Jemel ss  4   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Herring, Matt rf    4   0   1   0   0   0   5   0   0
Gilligan, Brendan c 3   0   0   0   0   1   7   0   1
Hammond, Matt dh    3   1   1   1   0   1   0   0   0
Love, Carlos 1b     3   0   0   0   0   0   6   1   0
Baker, Rocky 3b     3   0   1   0   0   0   1   2   0
Revere, J.R. lf     3   0   1   0   0   2   2   0   1
Dove, Dennis p      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0
 Tolbert, Scott p   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0
Totals......        31  1   4   1   0   4   24  9   3

Clemson 15 (48-14)

Player              AB  R   H   RBI BB  SO  PO  A   LOB
Valiente, R lf      3   1   0   0   1   0   2   0   0
 DeMaino, L ph/lf   1   1   0   0   1   0   1   0   1
Frank, Kyle cf      5   2   2   3   0   0   2   0   3
Greene, Khalil ss   5   3   5   3   0   0   1   5   0
Baker, Jeff 3b      5   2   2   3   0   1   1   4   2
 Evans, Garrick 3b  0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Johnson, Michael 1b 4   1   1   0   0   0   8   1   0
 Hourigan, Jeff 1b  1   1   1   0   0   0   1   0   0
Schmidt, Jarrod rf  4   1   1   1   1   2   4   0   1
Green, Zane dh      3   1   1   2   1   1   0   0   0
 Miller, Seth ph/c  1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Slevin, David 2b    2   1   0   0   1   1   1   0   0
 Triplett, R 2b     2   1   1   1   0   0   0   0   0
Pyzik, Steve c      1   0   0   0   1   1   3   0   0
 Mahoney, C ph/c    2   0   1   1   0   0   1   0   0
Reba, Steve p       0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0
 Childs, Ryan p     0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0
Totals......        39  15  15  14  6   6   27  10  7

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Georgia Southern.... 010 000 000 -  1  4  2
Clemson............. 014 240 22X - 15 15  2
-------------------------------------------

E - GILLIGAN(8); LOVE(14); EVANS 2(4). DP - Clemson 1.
LOB - Ga. Southern 3; Clemson 7. 2B - GREENE 2(27); 
HOURIGAN(9); TRIPLETT(6); MAHONEY(5). HR - HAMMOND(7); 
FRANK(4); GREENE 2(24); BAKER 2(24); GREEN(1). SH - 
PYZIK(3). SB - BAKER(27); GREENE(15); JOHNSON(11); GREEN(1).

Georgia Southern    IP  H   R   ER  BB  SO  AB  BF  NP
Dove, Dennis        2.1 6   5   5   3   1   13  16
Tolbert, Scott      5.2 9   10  10  3   5   26  30

Clemson             IP  H   R   ER  BB  SO  AB  BF  NP
Reba, Steve         6.0 4   1   1   0   2   21  21
Childs, Ryan        3.0 0   0   0   0   2   10  10

Win - REBA (13-2).  Loss - DOVE (7-4).  Save - CHILDS (1).
BK - DOVE(2); TOLBERT(3).
Umpires - Home:Kevin Gillmore  1st:Paul Guillie
2nd:Ray Belfiore  3rd:Mike Rose
Start: 7:01   Time: 2:38   Attendance: 4980
Game notes:
Game 1 of Clemson (SC) Regional
Clemson will play East Carolina Saturday at 3:00 PM.
Georgia Southern will play Elon Saturday at 11:00 AM.


BONUS COVERAGE


CLEMSON, SC - Clemson established a new school record for home runs in an NCAA Tournament game with six as the top-seeded Tigers coasted to a 15-1 win over fourth seed Georgia Southern in the Clemson Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday night. The barrage was led by Khalil Greene and Jeff Baker, who each homered twice and tied the Clemson record for home runs in a season. Clemson (48-14) will move on to play East Carolina at 3:00 PM on Saturday while Georgia Southern (38-24) takes on Elon in an elimination game at 11:00 AM on Saturday.


Georgia Southern opened the scoring in the second inning with Matt Hammond's solo home run, but Clemson answered in the bottom of the inning with Jarrod Schmidt's RBI-single up the middle. Greene hit his 88th career double to lead off the third inning and Baker followed him by belting a line-drive home run over the fence in center. Baker's 23rd home run of the year was the 58th of his career, tying him for fourth in ACC history, and it gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Three batters later, Zane Green launched his first career home run, a two-run shot, off the batters' eye in center field to extend the advantage to 5-1.


Greene started things again in the fourth inning with a solo home run. The long ball was his 23rd of the year, tying him again with Baker for the team lead. The tie lasted only six pitches as Baker went deep again for his 24th home run of the season, tying the single-season Clemson record. The onslaught continued in the fifth inning. After Kyle Frank's RBI-single, Roberto Valiente scored on a balk. Greene then capped the inning with another home run, this one a two-run homer, that gave him 24 for the season and gave Clemson a commanding 11-1 lead.


The Tigers went deep again in the seventh when Frank launched his fourth homer of the season, a two-run shot that made it a 13-1 game. Russell Triplett and Collin Mahoney came off the bench to add RBI-doubles in the eighth to make the final margin 15-1.


Steve Reba (13-2) threw just 67 pitches over six innings, allowing only one run off four hits while striking out two and walking none, to get the win. Ryan Childs pitched three scoreless innings to earn his first save of the season. Dennis Dove (7-4) got the loss for Georgia Southern.


Greene extended his hitting streak to 28 games with a single in the first inning and went 5-5 with two home runs and two doubles. Baker and Frank each added two hits and three RBIs for the Tigers. The multi-homer performances by Greene and Baker were only the sixth and seventh such efforts in the NCAA Tournament by a Clemson player.

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