CLEMSON -- There's nothing like confidence for a baseball team. Clemson's
got enough now to share with the other 16 teams left in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers swept through the NCAA regional with an 8-2 win over
fourth-seeded Seton Hall on Sunday in front of 4,134 at Doug Kingsmore
Clemson (41-20) will travel to face the Miami Hurricanes at Mark Light
Stadium starting Friday in a best two-out-of-three Super Regional for a trip
to the College World Series.
"I just think all season long we've been struggling to get going offensively
and defensively at one time," said Clemson coach Jack Leggett.
Clemson committed just one error while hitting .351 in three games. The
Tigers came in hitting .301 and had committed 75 errors in 58 games during
the regular season.
"When you're hitting, you love this game a lot more," said Leggett. "When
you're struggling, it's more difficult as an individual and as a team. We
believe in ourselves a lot more now."
Johnson was named Tournament MVP. |
Clemson left seven men on base through the first five innings. Tournament
MVP Michael Johnson's two-run homerun gave Clemson a 2-1 lead going into the
sixth, when the Tigers took control of the game.
Chad Coder led off the inning with a single to left. He was bunted over to
second by Kyle Frank and driven home on a single by Seith Miller.
Seton Hall (34-23-1) could have easily limited the damage to one run.
However, some sloppy fielding opened the way for four more runs.
Miller stole second on a 2-2 pitch with two outs to Casey Stone. Seton Hall
catcher Adam Arsianian didn't look like he was expecting Miller to steal and
threw wildly into center field. Miller immediately took off for third.
Center fielder Mike Bascom's throw was late.
After Stone walked, Jeff Baker hit a slow roller up the middle that was
fielded behind the mound by shortstop Chris Carter, who threw the ball into
the dugout, allowing Miller and Stone to score.
"It was a play that Carter's going to make ninety-nine percent of the time,"
said Seton Hall interim head coach Rob Sheppard. "Unfortunately, today
wasn't one of those days."
Khalil Greene steals second. |
Khalil Greene then drove home Baker with a home run over the 400-foot sign
in center field to give Clemson a 7-1 lead.
Seton Hall scored one run in six innings off Clemson starter Matt Henrie
(6-3). Brian Leighton hit a home run in the seventh off Clemson reliever
Patrick Hohan and Joe Cuervo's double led to a run in the ninth off Josh
Cram. However, Clemson's sixth-inning outburst provided enough cushion to
send the Tigers to Miami for a Super Regional next weekend.
"I like our chances if we play like we've been playing," said left fielder
Clemson had scored 24 against the Pirates on Saturday, but starter Brett
Hoffman (0-3) slowed Clemson's run-scoring pace. He didn't allow a run until
Johnson's two-run homerun with two outs in the third.
The Pirates scored a run in the fourth when Cuervo reached on a single with
two outs. He stole second and then was drive in on a single to right by Mike
Hoffman held the Tigers to two runs through the fifth. In the sixth, he was
taken out after Carter's error gave Clemson a 5-1 lead. He was replaced by
Elvys Quezada, who gave up the homerun to Greene and then settled down. He
gave up just one other hit, a homerun to Baker in the eighth.
However, Seton Hall had no one that could completely shut down the Tigers -
not that anyone could have pulled that trick this weekend as confident as
the Tigers were. There's little for Leggett to do now other than keep his
team's spirits up this week.
"There's one team standing in our way from going to Omaha and we're looking
forward to that already," said Leggett.
Winning Coach (Jack Leggett, Clemson)
"It was a different ball game than yesterday, and I expected that. I
liked the way we responded late in the ball game. I thought Matt
Henrie did a good job even though he didn't have his best stuff. He
battled out there and got us through six innings and then our relief
pitching was good after that. We played great defense all weekend
long. We just made one error in three ball games."
"Our hitting is starting to come along. We got some big hits today.
Michael Johnson's two run homer was very big to break the ice. Seth
Miller's hit was a big hit to put us up 3-1 after they had made it
2-1. Kahlil Greene's hit, the two run homer was big. Casey Stone
has been a catalyst for us all season long. I was pleased to see
Michael Johnson step up and be the MVP of the tournament, he deserved
"I'm pleased with how our team's playing right now. We've got one
team standing in our way right now from going to Omaha. We've got a
big challenge ahead of us and we're looking forward to that already."
"It's a great accomplishment for our program to have won three
regional championships in a row. It was not easy. When you get into
a tournament like this you have got to be playing your best baseball.
I think we're doing that right now. The team is coming together.
The team chemistry is coming together. I can see and feel that
happening. The focus is a lot stronger. The confidence level is
higher. The purpose in taking the field every day is a lot more
meaningful. I think they see what they can accomplish if they pull
together and play real well together down the stretch here. I'm
pleased more than anything with the attitude and enthusiasm of this
baseball team right now. We were tough this weekend."
Losing Coach (Rob Sheppard, Seton Hall)
"I would just to thank the people of Clemson and the NCAA for running
a first class regional this weekend. This was our second year in a
row going to a regional and I am extremely proud of our guys. They
knocked off the number-one in the opening round and they battled hard
"We played a very good Clemson team today that I am sure will go
along in the tournament from this point on. I really think the game
would have had a different complexion if we had been able to score a
few runs in the first couple of innings. Clemson really bared down
when they had to, though, and they did what they had to do to win."
Seton Hall 2 (34-23-1)
Player AB R H BI
Joe Cuervo rf 5 1 3 0
Mike Bascom cf 5 0 1 1
Casey Grimm lf 4 0 0 0
Brian Leighton 1b 5 1 3 1
Adam Arslanian c 4 0 0 0
Kevin Leighton dh 3 0 0 0
Josh Schuck 2b 3 0 0 0
Joe Scott 3b 3 0 0 0
Chris Carter ss 2 0 0 0
Brett Hoffmann p 0 0 0 0
Elvys Quezada p 0 0 0 0
Totals...... 34 2 7 2
Clemson University 8 (41-20)
Player AB R H BI
Ryan Riley 2b 5 0 0 0
Casey Stone lf 4 1 0 0
Zane Green lf 0 0 0 0
Jeff Baker 3b 3 3 2 2
Khalil Greene ss 5 1 3 2
Michael Johnson 1b 3 1 2 2
Jarrod Schmidt dh 3 0 0 0
Chad Coder cf 4 1 1 0
Kyle Frank rf 3 0 1 0
Seth Miller c 4 1 2 1
Jon Smith c 0 0 0 0
Matt Henrie p 0 0 0 0
Patrick Hogan p 0 0 0 0
Nick Glaser p 0 0 0 0
Josh Cram p 0 0 0 0
Totals...... 34 8 11 7
Score by Innings R H E
Seton Hall.......... 000 100 100 - 2 7 2
Clemson University.. 002 005 01X - 8 11 1
E - Schuck(6); Carter(23); BAKER(21). LOB - Seton Hall 11; Clemson 8. 2B -
Cuervo(20). HR - B. Leighton(5); BAKER(23); GREENE(12); JOHNSON(17). HBP - K.
Leighton; SCHMIDT. SH - FRANK(6). SB - Cuervo(23); Schuck(7); STONE(25);
GREENE(17); JOHNSON(11); MILLER(1).
Seton Hall IP H R ER BB SO WP BK HP IBB AB BF FO GO
Brett Hoffmann L,0-3 5.2 9 6 6 3 1 1 0 1 0 25 30 9 7
Elvys Quezada 2.1 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 9 10 4 3
Clemson University IP H R ER BB SO WP BK HP IBB AB BF FO GO
Matt Henrie W,6-3 6.0 5 1 1 4 4 1 0 1 0 23 28 3 10
Patrick Hogan 1.0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 3 0
Nick Glaser 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 3 0 1
Josh Cram 1.0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 4 5 2 1
WP - Hoffmann(4); HENRIE(7); CRAM(7). HB - Hoffmann; HENRIE.
Strikeouts - Cuervo; Schuck 2; Scott 3; SCHMIDT. Walks - Grimm; Schuck; Scott;
Carter 2; STONE; BAKER 2; JOHNSON.
Umpires - Home:Wade Ford 1st:Mark Ditsworth 2nd:Dave Smith 3rd:Lee
Prejean Start: 1:00 PM Time: 2:57 Attendance: 4134
Clemson Regional Game 6
NCAA CLEMSON REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Position Player School
First Base Michael Johnson Clemson
Second Base Ryan Riley Clemson
Third Base Jeff Baker Clemson
Short Stop Brendon Harris William & Mary
Outfield Joe Cuervo Seton Hall
Outfield Chad Coder Clemson
Outfield Cameron Likely South Alabama
Catcher Warren Hanna South Alabama
Pitcher Steve Reba Clemson
Pitcher B.J. Benik Seton Hall
DH/Utility Jarrod Schmidt Clemson
MVP Michael Johnson Clemson
Clemson, SC- Tournament MVP Michael Johnson slammed his third home run
in three games, and Matt Henrie allowed just one run in six innings
of pitching, leading Clemson to an 8-2 victory over Seton Hall in the
championship game of the Clemson Regional of the NCAA baseball
tournament at Kingsmore Stadium.
The Tigers will now move on to the Super Regional where they will
face the winner of the Coral Gables Regional next weekend in a
three-game series. Miami (FL) was playing Stetson for the
championship of that regional at the time of this writing.
Sunday's victory marked the third consecutive year that Clemson has
advanced to at least the Super Regional of the tournament. Clemson
won the Fayetteville, AR regional in 1999 and the Clemson regional
last year. The Tigers have now won eight straight NCAA tournament
games at Kingsmore Stadium.
The Tigers defeated Big East Tournament Champion Seton Hall twice,
24-4 on Saturday and 8-2 on Sunday. Jack Leggett's team opened with
a 4-1 triumph over William & Mary on Friday night behind Steve Reba.
Clemson now advances to the Super Regional with a 41-20 record.
Seton Hall ends its season with a 34-23-1 ledger.
Johnson,a sophomore from Georgetown, SC, won tournament MVP honors
with his three home runs and 11 RBIs. Over the three games he was 7
for 11 at the plate, a tournament best .636 batting average. He also
led the tournament in total bases with 17 in just 11 at bats.
Johnson became the first Tiger since 1993 to slam three home runs in
a regional. Keith Williams, who went on to a Major League career
with the San Francisco Giants, had three in the 1993 regional at
Knoxville, TN. Johnson's 11 RBIs were the most by a Tiger in an NCAA
Tournament since Jerome Robinson had 13 when he won regional MVP
honors in 1996.
Six Clemson players were chosen to the all-tournament team. Joining
Johnson, the selection at first base, were Ryan Riley at second base,
Jeff Baker at third, Chad Coder in centerfield, Steve Reba as a
pitcher and Jarrod Schmidt as the utility player.
Other all-tournament selections were Brendan Harris of William &
Mary (SS), Joe Cuervo of Seton Hall (OF), Cameron Likely of South
Alabama (OF), Warren Hanna of South Alabama (C) and B.J. Benik of
Seton Hall (pitcher).
Johnson was one of three Tigers to record home runs on Sunday.
Khalil Greene had a homer in the sixth and Jeff Baker hit a round
tripper in the eighth. All three players had two RBIs to account for
six of Clemson's eight runs. It was the12th of the year for Greene
and the 23rd for Baker.
Getting the leadoff man on base was the key to victory for the
Tigers, who have a 19-4 record under Jack Leggett in NCAA regional
games at Kingsmore Stadium. In 17 innings against Seton Hall the
Tigers got the leadoff man on base six times. The Tigers scored 29
runs in those six innings. Clemson scored just two runs in the 11
innings it failed to get the leadoff man on base against the
Clemson had outstanding fielding in the three game series. The
Tigers had just one error in the three games of the regional, much to
the delight of the Tiger pitching staff, which yielded just seven
runs in the three games of the regional.
Henrie labored in the early inning, but allowed just one run. Over
the first four innings, Seton Hall left nine runners on base. He
walked the bases loaded in the second inning, but got out of the jam
by striking out Cuervo, who had three hits on the day, and getting
Mike Bascom to ground out to shortstop. For his six innings, Henrie
gave up just five hits, but walked a career high five batters. He
improved his record to 6-3 with the win.
Clemson opened the scoring in the bottom of the third with a two-run
home run by Johnson, the third consecutive game the Tiger sophomore
first baseman had hit a home run to account for Clemson's first runs
of the game. His shot to the scoreboard in right center was his 17th
home run of the year, his sixth in eight games. The homer came off
Seton Hall starter and loser Brett Hoffman (0-3), who was making just
his third start of the year.
Seton Hall cut the margin to 2-1 in the fourth inning. With two out,
right fielder Joe Cuervo singled to left. He stole second and scored
on Mike Bascom's single to right.
The sixth inning has been Clemson's top frame all year, outscoring
the opposition 61-32 for the season. It proved to be pivotal again
as the Tigers put the game away with five runs on four hits. Nine
batters came to the plate.
Chad Coder led off with a sharp single to left. He moved to second
on a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Frank and scored on a single to right by
catcher Seth Miller. Ryan Riley then flew out to centerfield,
leaving the score 3-1 with two out in the bottom of the sixth.
Casey Stone worked a walk and promptly stole second. Baker followed
with a single that scored Miller and Stone. Seton Hall took Hoffman
out of the game and brought in Elvis Quezada, a relief pitcher who
had faced 70 batters for the year without giving up a home run.
Khalil Greene changed all that with a home run over the centerfield
fence, givng the Tigers a 7-1 lead.
Seton Hall added a run in the seventh on a home run by Brian
Leighton,but the Tigers countered with a home run by Baker in the
bottom of the eighth. It was Baker's 23rd home run of the season,
leaving the All-American shortstop just one away from the Clemson
single season mark of 24 set by Matthew LeCroy in 1997 and Eric
Macrina in 1991.