Clemson Crushes NC A&T Late


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - The images kept coming to mind.


Rocky Balboa. The '69 Mets. Giacomo. Shoeshine Boy.


For the longest time Friday night, North Carolina A&T seemed poised to put its name beside some of the greatest underdogs of all time by pulling a monumental upset of host and No. 1 seed Clemson in the NCAA Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.


Instead, dreams of a Jim Valvano-type celebration came crashing down in the seventh inning, when the Tiger offense exploded for eight runs en route to a 12-2 victory over the Aggies. The game was played before an announced crowd of 4,925.


The win advances Clemson (40-21) to the winner's bracket game tonight at 7 o'clock, where it will face the College of Charleston. The Cougars advanced by defeating Oral Roberts in the day's first game, 5-2.



Oral Roberts and N.C. A&T (27-26) play an elimination game today at 3 p.m.


As they have in the last month or so, Clemson looked sluggish returning to action after an extended layoff. The Tigers hadn't played in five days - similar to the scenarios which saw them lose a regular season game at Virginia Tech and the ACC Tournament opener vs. Virginia.


Fortunately for Jack Leggett's team, this hangover lasted six innings rather than nine.


"It was a tough ballgame. My hat's off to North Carolina A&T," Leggett said. "I thought their kid pitched extremely well. They did what they had to do by putting a little pressure on us early in the ballgame. They made all the plays defensively.


"I was pleased with how our team played, especially considering we haven't played great coming off four or five days of rest. It took us a little while to get into it...(But) we were very patient and kept our poise."


Of course, Clemson's layoff was minor compared to the plight of the Aggies.


Its conference tournament completed May 1, A&T had played a grand total of one game in the past 32 days entering Friday. Yet for much of the evening the Aggies were the sharper, more aggressive team.


But Clemson, which just missed on a number of earlier opportunities to take control of the game, finally caught fire in the seventh inning.


The Tigers sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight runs, battering Aggie starter Michael Hauff (8-5) and reliever Richard Hawk. Taylor Harbin tied the game 2-2 with a bloop single, a base hit which opened the flood gates. A two-run triple by Tyler Colvin, an RBI single from Travis Storrer and a run-scoring ground ball by Stan Widmann made it 6-2 Tigers.


Herman Demmink later put on the exclamation point, drilling a three-run triple to the wall in right-center for a 9-2 advantage.


"It was natural for a lot of us to get pretty anxious at the plate," Demmink said. "We had a couple of bad breaks in the field. We may not have read some balls as well as we could have. At the plate, we were starting to swing at balls out of the zone.


"Coach Leggett was trying to keep us calm, which I thought we did. We started seeing balls up in the zone and capitalized on it."


The Tigers added three insurance runs in the ninth inning, getting run-scoring doubles from Storrer and Andy D'Alessio and another RBI from Widmann.


The Aggies rallied from an early 1-0 deficit with single runs in fifth and sixth innings off Tigers' starter Stephen Faris.


They might have led earlier in the game were it not for some questionable base running. But inside the first two innings the Aggies had one runner thrown out at the plate by Colvin on a single to shallow left, and two other would-be base stealers gunned down by Tigers' catcher Adrian Casanova - one at second base and one at third.


"We decide before a game that we're going to make them make plays," said Aggies' coach Keith Shumate. "Clemson's left fielder did a great job of throwing the ball to home plate. That's the way we got here; we put pressure on people.


"We've had a bit of a layoff and when your facing a club of the caliber of Clemson, you have to make things happen. Your power hitters are going to be a little bit off. They haven't played in four or five weeks."


Meanwhile, Clemson missed blowing the game open earlier by mere inches on more than one occasion.


The first came in the fourth inning when, with one out and the bases loaded, Widmann sent Aggie left fielder Phillip Brewington to the wall to catch his bid for a grand slam home run. Kris Harvey did score on the play to provide Clemson with the short-lived 1-0 lead.


An inning later, Brewington made a running, leaping catch at the fence of a drive by Harbin with a runner on first. And both Colvin and D'Alessio just missed home runs in different innings when their drives curved outside the foul pole down the right field line.


It was enough to bring the word snakebit to mind.


"You have to give them credit," Leggett said. "(N.C. A&T) played a tough ballgame."


Faris again pitched well for the Tigers and on another night would have been an easy winner.


As it was he allowed two runs, eight hits, struck out 10 and walked just one in 6 2/3 innings. Daniel Moskos (2-2) came on in the seventh with runners at first and third and two outs to retire the only batter he faced - getting Jeremy Jones to end the inning with a ground ball to Harbin at second.


Stephen Clyne pitched the final two innings, allowing just two hits.


Hauff was charged with five runs (four earned) in 6 1/3 innings for the Aggies.


Clemson can advance to the championship game with a victory tonight over the College of Charleston. The Tigers are 14-0 all-time vs. the Cougars, including an 8-5 victory earlier this season at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.


NOTES


- Clemson's win was its 40th of the season, eclipsing the 39 mark it had attained in each of the last two years. The Tigers now have won at least 40 games in 18 of the last 20 years. The Tigers are now 28-7 all-time in home NCAA Regional games - including wins in 14 of their last 15 - and 85-64 overall in the NCAA Tournament.


- Demmink's single in the fifth inning extended his hitting streak to 12 games. His three-run triple in the seventh put him at 4-for-6 and 10 RBI this season with the bases loaded.


- Faris' 10 strikeouts were a career high.


- Friday was N.C. A&T's first-ever NCAA Regional appearance.


North Carolina A&T 2 (27-26)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Nic Mayo 2b..............  5  0  3  1   0  0  0  4   0
Phillip Brewington lf....  5  0  0  0   0  4  5  0   4
Jeremy Jones cf..........  3  1  2  0   1  0  1  0   2
Charlie Gamble 3b........  4  0  2  0   0  0  2  0   0
Patrick Oates 1b.........  4  0  0  1   0  1  4  0   0
Joe McIntyre dh..........  4  0  0  0   0  1  0  0   1
Raul Santiago rf.........  4  0  0  0   0  2  3  0   2
Chris Williams ss........  4  0  0  0   0  1  4  1   0
Neil Rosser c............  4  1  3  0   0  1  5  1   0
Michael Hauff p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  1   0
 Richard Hawk p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Eric Neal p.............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Andy Peascoe p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 37  2 10  2   1 10 24  7   9

Clemson 12 (40-21)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Herman Demmink 3b........  3  0  2  3   1  1  1  2   0
Brad Chalk cf............  3  1  0  0   2  1  0  0   1
 David Williams cf.......  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  0   0
Taylor Harbin 2b.........  5  1  1  1   0  0  2  4   1
Tyler Colvin lf..........  4  2  1  2   1  0  1  1   2
Kris Harvey dh...........  4  2  1  0   1  0  0  0   0
Travis Storrer rf........  4  2  2  2   1  1  0  0   0
Andy D'Alessio 1b........  3  1  2  1   2  0 11  0   0
 Ben Hall 1b.............  0  0  0  0   0  0  2  0   0
Stan Widmann ss..........  4  1  1  3   0  0  1  3   2
Adrian Casanova c........  1  0  0  0   1  1  8  4   2
 Jesse Ferguson ph.......  0  0  0  0   1  0  0  0   0
 Daniel Pritchard pr.....  0  2  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Gene Pierce c...........  1  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   1
Stephen Faris p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Daniel Moskos p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Stephen Clyne p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  1   0
Totals................... 32 12 10 12  10  4 27 15   9

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
North Carolina A&T.. 000 011 000 -  2 10  1
Clemson............. 000 100 83X - 12 10  2
-------------------------------------------

E - WILLIAMS(15); HARBIN(9); D'ALESSIO(6). LOB - 
N.C. A&T 9; Clemson 9. 2B -STORRER(15); D'ALESSIO 2(11). 
3B - MAYO(1); DEMMINK(1); COLVIN(2). HBP - PRITCHARD. 
SH - DEMMINK(7). SF - WIDMANN(5). SB - MAYO(20); DEMMINK(8);
HARVEY(1); WIDMANN(6). CS - JONES(8); GAMBLE(5).

North Carolina A&T     IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Michael Hauff.......  6.1  5  5  4  7  3 22 31
Richard Hawk........  0.2  2  4  4  2  1  4  7
Eric Neal...........  0.2  3  3  3  1  0  5  6
Andy Peascoe........  0.1  0  0  0  0  0  1  1

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Stephen Faris.......  6.2  8  2  2  1 10 28 29
Daniel Moskos.......  0.1  0  0  0  0  0  1  1
Stephen Clyne.......  2.0  2  0  0  0  0  8  8

Win - MOSKOS (2-2).  Loss - HAUFF (8-5).  Save - None.
WP - HAWK(4); FARIS(3). HBP - by HAWK (PRITCHARD). 
PB - ROSSER(8); CASANOVA(7). Umpires - HP: Jay Asher  
1B: Steve Ricciarini  2B: Scott Cline  3B: Mark
Ditsworth  Start: 6:57   Time: 2:53   Attendance: 4925

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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