Five-run Eighth Inning Powers Clemson Over Illinois, 9-3


by - Correspondent -
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Kevin Lynn pitched the final 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win.
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CLEMSON, SC - There's the possibility of a Justin Singleton hiding in every NCAA regional.

Singleton, a lefty who was injured for most of the regular season for Clemson and used sparingly against left handers, was a late-inning defensive replacement and faced Illinois lefty Joe Sprengard in the eighth inning with two men on and Clemson leading 4-3.

Illinois coach Richard Jones thought he had the odds in his favor.

Singleton then ripped a Sprengard pitch to the gap in right center for a triple to drive in two runs and break open a close game Saturday in front of 3,702 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Clemson (47-16) went on to win 9-3 to advance to today's 2 p.m. game against either Illinois or Middle Tennessee State. The two teams played Saturday evening.

"With the left against lefty matchup, I liked our odds," said Jones. "We played the percentages and it didn't work out."

It would have been hard for Jones to know Singleton was 5-for-12 against lefties this season and that his average (.268) was largely the result of a season-opening slump (1-for-28).

"Justin is the kind of kid that's is always ready," said Clemson coach Jack Leggett. "He doesn't tuck his head in his tail because he isn't starting."

Singleton's triple gave Clemson a 6-3 lead. He scored from third on an error by first baseman Andy Schutzenhofer.

Clemson catcher Brian Ellis scored on a squeeze bunt by Casey Stone and Ryan Riley scored on a wild pitch. Suddenly Clemson was cruising 9-3.

"That's the position I want to be in," said Singleton. "In games that I don't start, I'm thinking that I want to be the one that breaks it open. Even when I'm starting, I think about it."

For seven innings, however, Illinois played well enough defensively to make up for four wild pitches.

Clemson took a 3-1 lead after two innings and led 3-2 when Illinois threatened to take the lead in the fourth on Clemson starter Scott Berney. Berney retired the first two Illinois batters before he hit Rob Fischer with a pitch and then walked both Joe Parenti and Chris Basak to load the bases. Kevin Lynn (4-1) came in for Berney and quickly quieted the rally. Brady Ballard flew out to center to end the inning.

Clemson added and run in the top of the seventh. Brian Ellis reached on a error by the first baseman. He was sacrificed to second by Ryan Riley and reached third on a groundout. He scored when Illinois starter Andy Dickinson threw another wild pitch.

Illinois scored in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 4-3. Ballard led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a ground out. He scored then Clemson centerfielder Patrick Boyd dropped a fly ball.

In the top of the eighth, however, Clemson blew the game open.

"Eventually I thought something was going to fall for us," said Leggett. "I thought if we could keep pressing, then something would happen. I didn't happen until the eighth."

A win in the 2 p.m. game on Sunday against MTSU would send the Tigers into the super regionals next weekend. A loss would force another game at 7 p.m.

Clemson will pitch Jarrod Schmidt (8-0) in the first game. ***


BOXSCORE

Clemson at Illinois
May 27, 2000 at Clemson, SC (Kingsmore Stadium)

Clemson 9 (47-16)                                                  

Name (Pos)                 AB  R  H RBI  BB SO PO  A LOB   Avg
--------------------------------------------------------------
Stone, Casey lf...........  4  1  2  1    0  0  5  0   1  .361
Boyd, Patrick cf..........  4  0  1  0    1  0  7  0   0  .276
Greene, Khalil 3b.........  5  0  0  0    0  1  2  3   2  .366
Baker, Jeff ss............  4  0  0  0    0  1  0  3   0  .323     
Calitri, Mike 1b..........  2  1  0  0    2  0  6  2   0  .283     
 Johnson, Michael ph/1b.... 1  0  0  0    0  0  0  0   0  .308     
Schmidt, Jarrod dh........  2  1  1  1    2  0  0  0   0  .230     
 Stanley, Henri ph/dh...... 0  0  0  0    1  0  0  0   0  .276     
LeCroy, Bradley rf........  3  0  0  0    0  0  1  0   3  .286     
 Singleton, Justin rf...... 1  1  1  2    1  0  0  0   0  .280     
Ellis, Brian c............  2  3  0  0    3  0  3  0   2  .288     
Riley, Ryan 2b............  3  2  1  0    0  0  1  1   0  .301     
 Holstad, Brian 2b......... 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0   0  .188     
Berney, Scott p...........  0  0  0  0    0  0  1  1   0           
 Lynn, Kevin p............. 0  0  0  0    0  0  1  0   0           

Totals.................... 31  9  6  4   10  2 27 10   8           


Illinois 3 (41-22)

Name (Pos)                 AB  R  H RBI  BB SO PO  A LOB   Avg
--------------------------------------------------------------
Basak, Chris ss...........  4  1  2  0    1  0  2  6   2
Ballard, Brady cf.........  5  2  1  0    0  0  1  0   3
Schutzenhofer, Andy 1b....  4  0  1  0    0  0 13  1   0
Simmons, Luke dh..........  3  0  1  2    0  0  0  0   0
Svihlik, D.J. 2b..........  4  0  0  0    0  1  4  5   2
Marquie, Craig 3b.........  4  0  2  0    0  0  0  6   0
Gertz, Jeff c.............  4  0  0  0    0  2  2  0   0
 Arlis, Patrick c.......... 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0   0
Fischer, Rob lf...........  3  0  0  0    0  0  2  0   0
Parenti, Joe rf...........  2  0  0  0    1  0  1  0   1
 Belcher, Greg ph.......... 1  0  0  0    0  0  0  0   0
Dickinson, Andy p.........  0  0  0  0    0  0  2  0   0
 Sprengard, Joe p.......... 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  1   0
 Arft, Kevin p............. 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0   0
 Trayser, Tom p............ 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0   0

Totals.................... 34  3  7  2    2  3 27 19   8

Score by innings:                      R  H  E
----------------------------------------------
Clemson               120 000 150   -  9  6  2
Illinois              101 000 100   -  3  7  3
----------------------------------------------

E - BAKER(20), BERNEY(1), SCHUTZENHOFE 2(7), SVIHLIK(9).
DP - Illinois 3. LOB - Clemson 8, Illinois 8.
2B - MARQUIE(10). 3B - SINGLETON(2).
SB - STONE(22), BOYD(17), STANLEY(14), FISCHER(5).
SH - STONE(14), RILEY(5). SF - SIMMONS(3).

Clemson                IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  AB BF   ERA  NP
--------------------------------------------------------------
Berney, Scott.......  3.2   5   2   2   2   1  16 19  3.26   -
Lynn, Kevin.........  5.1   2   1   1   0   2  18 19  4.05   -      

Illinois               IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  AB BF   ERA  NP
--------------------------------------------------------------
Dickinson, Andy.....  7.1   5   7   4   7   2  26 34         -
Sprengard, Joe......  0.2   1   2   0   1   0   3  5         - 
Arft, Kevin.........  0.2   0   0   0   2   0   1  4         -   
Trayser, Tom........  0.1   0   0   0   0   0   1  1         -
Win - LYNN 4-1.  Loss - DICKINSON 8-3.  Save - None.
WP - BERNEY(3), LYNN(3), DICKINSON 3(9), SPRENGARD(5). 
PB - GERTZ(12).
HBP - by BERNEY (FISCHER), by ARFT (BAKER).
Umpires - Home:John Kleis  1st:Frank Sylvester  2nd:Joe Burleson  
3rd:Shawn Vellek
Start: 3:03   Time: 2:38   Attendance: 3702

Game Notes:
Clemson will play Illinois-Middle Tennessee winner Sunday at 
2:00 PM EDT.
Illinois will play Middle Tennessee Saturday at 7:00 PM EDT.
Khalil Greene's 20 game-hitting streak ended.

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