CLEMSON, SC -- Clemson went too far last year in the NCAA tournament to feel
good about where it landed.
A year later, heading into another super regional - this time at home
against Mississippi State - the memory is still fresh of last year's ninth
After losing its first game by 18 runs, Clemson, a week later, was three
outs from the College World Series.
Clemson came back like Rocky. This time Rocky got kicked in the stomach and
went down for the count in the final scene.
Clemson led 4-3 entering the ninth inning in the third game of the super
regional at Texas A&M last June. A team that was defeated by 18 in the first
game of the regional and by 17 in the first game against Texas A&M was three
outs from the College World Series. A team that had lost 14 of its final 35
regular season games was three outs from the big show. Those facts haven't
made the loss any easier to take for Clemson third baseman Khalil Greene.
"It was a pretty big disappointment," said Greene. "It was tough having to
play baseball all summer with guys that made it to the College World
Greene could only watch Clemson's one-run lead evaporate.
Clemson reliever Chris Heck was ahead of Texas A&M leadoff hitter Steve
Scarborough 0-2 in the top of the ninth. Heck had to throw five more pitches
before Scarborough hit the next one over the left field wall to tie the game
in front of 7,645 at Olsen Field in College Station, Texas.
"I was just trying to calm down after the first one," said Greene. "The
place just exploded."
No. 9 hitter Chad Hudson lined out to left field before Heck faced center
fielder Steve Truitt. Truitt hit Heck's creamed first pitch and flipped his
bat about 15 feet in the air as the ball traveled over the left field wall.
"It was a little surreal," said Greene. "When he hit it, it was almost like
they were destined to win it."
It's the kind of moment that will stick with Greene - unless the Tigers win
two games this weekend against Mississippi State and head to the College
"It was tough being three outs away and not going to the College World
Series," said Greene. "This is pretty much it. Just the fact, the finality
of it all, win or lose. Basically, if you lose it's going to be a big
disappointment for a whole year."
Clemson had two men on when Patrick Boyd struck out swinging to end the game
in the bottom of the ninth.
"I really thought we had it," said Clemson coach Jack Leggett after the
A year later, Leggett isn't worried that last year's close call will have an
effect on the team.
"We learned that it's good to win that first game," he said.
Clemson isn't the underdog it was last year. The Tigers swept its way
through the regional last weekend at Clemson. This weekend's game are at
Clemson as well. That won't make things any easier.
"They're playing pretty good baseball," said Leggett. "We've got to play
pretty good baseball."