Harman pitches first career complete game, Tigers closer to regional title


by - Senior Writer -
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AUBURN, AL – Another hot start at the plate and a second consecutive dominant pitching performance have the Clemson Tigers on the verge of an NCAA Regional win.

The Tigers jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning and starter Casey Harman picked a great time for his first career complete game in leading Clemson to a 5-2 win over the host Auburn Tigers Saturday night at Plainsman Park in Auburn, leaving Clemson just one win from a trip to a Super Regional next weekend.

Harman gave up just five hits while striking out eight and walking just one in throwing 129 pitches.

“We played a really good ballgame, and it started on the mound,” Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said. “Casey pitched a great ballgame and we played good defense behind him, and then Wilson Boyd made a game-changing defensive play behind him. We got some runs early, which is what you need to do when you’re competing against a good baseball team.”

Clemson greeted Auburn starter Grant Dayton with a big first inning. Will Lamb led off the frame with an infield single to the middle of the diamond. The next hitter, Mike Freeman, battled back from 0-2 count to 2-2, and then drilled a Dayton fastball high over the right field wall for a home run, his eighth of the season, and a 2-0 Clemson lead.

With one out, Kyle Parker walked and then advanced to second on a ground out by Brad Miller. Next up was John Hinson, and he hit Dayton’s 32nd pitch of the inning into right for a solid single that scored Parker for a 3-0 Clemson lead.

The score stayed that way until the fourth inning, when Richie Shaffer launched a one-out double high off of the Green Monster in left field, and Wilson Boyd followed that up with a run-scoring double into left-center. With two outs, Lamb drilled a shot to third that third baseman Dan Gamache threw into the dirt at first, allowing Boyd to score Clemson’s fifth run, with Lamb advancing to second after the ball hit the wall behind first base and trickled into shallow right field.

Harman had a no-hitter and a shutout through four innings, but Auburn’s Tony Caldwell drilled a long homer to left to break up both leading off the fifth inning. Harman escaped the rest of the fifth unscathed, however, and Clemson led 5-1 at the end of five innings.

Auburn had a runner at first with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, when Auburn’s Brian Fletcher drilled a shot to center field, brining the Auburn crowd to its feet in anticipation of a two-run homer, but Boyd jumped high and slammed into the wall, bringing the ball down for an out and preserving the four-run Clemson lead.

“I don’t know if it would have been out [of the ballpark] or not, but as soon as the ball was hit I knew it was gonna be a close play,” Boyd said. “I knew I had to go after it or it was going to be a momentum-changing play in the game, and when you’ve got a guy like Casey out there battling his butt off, you know you’ve got to make a play. Luckily it was within reach and I made a play on it.”

Harman got into another tense situation in the bottom of the eighth when a single and a hit batter put runners at first and second with one out. The batter that was hit, Justin Fradejas, was trying to bunt but insisted he was hit by the pitch. The home plate umpire initially overruled him, but the field umpires said the pitch did hit Fradejas, and Leggett came out to argue to no avail.

Harman responded by striking the next two hitters out, the last one on his 120th pitch of the night, to quell the threat.

SEC Player of the year Hunter Morris led off the bottom of the ninth against Harman with his 22nd homer of the year, a long drive over the Green Monster in left. The next hitter smashed a solid single to center, and Harman was visited on the mound by pitching Dan Pepicelli, and the conversation worked because Harman induced the next batter into a double play, and then got the final batter to fly out to right and secure the 5-2 win.

Pepicelli said there wasn’t any magic in what he told Harman during the mound visit.

“I just went and tried to get him to catch his breath,” Pepicelli said. “I tried to let him know, and the infield know what we’re looking to do with the next hitter. I just tried to stay positive, and told him to let his arm do the work, because when you get fatigued, you arm slows down.”
Leggett said there was never any hesitation in leaving Harman in to finish the game.

“He came in after the eighth and said ‘I want it. I want the ball.’ “ Leggett said of his junior. “He was pitching well, and had the lefty leading off the inning, so we left him in there. But he was focused out there, and you could tell he wanted it from the beginning.”

Harman said getting the early runs was a plus, and from there it was simply a matter of having all of his pitches working.

“It was just one of those nights when everything was working,” Harman said. “The biggest thing was going out there early and getting those runs. It got me excited. And the most important part of the game was Wilson’s catch in right-center. That really got us going. They came in here with a high. Very good reputation, leading the NCAA in home runs, but we had a game plan and stuck to it. Attack them, and make your pitches, and limit the mistakes. That worked out well for us. This is the best I have felt all the way through – this game was just about putting all of the pieces together and going after them the whole game.”

Harman’s best previous start of the season happened on March 19th against Virginia Tech, when he pitched 7.1 innings of shutout baseball, giving up just one hit to the Hokies.

The Tigers will await the winner of the Auburn-Southern Miss elimination game, which will be played at 2 p.m. The championship game will be between the winner of that contest and the Tigers, and is slated for a 6 p.m. start. The Tigers only need to win once to win the regional, while the opponent would have to beat Clemson twice in order to win. If the opponent wins Sunday’s 6 p.m. game, the final game of the regional would be played at 7 p.m. on Monday.

**NOTE – Auburn head coach John Pawlowski, who coached with Leggett at Clemson, fell to 0-14 all time against Leggett.


Clemson 5 (40-21)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Will Lamb dh.............  5  1  1  0   0  0  0  0   0
Mike Freeman 2b..........  4  1  1  2   0  2  1  3   2
Jeff Schaus lf...........  4  0  0  0   0  1  3  0   0
Kyle Parker rf...........  3  1  0  0   1  1  5  0   0
Brad Miller ss...........  4  0  1  0   0  1  2  1   0
John Hinson 3b...........  4  0  2  1   0  1  0  0   0
Richie Shaffer 1b........  4  1  1  0   0  2  7  0   3
Wilson Boyd cf...........  4  1  2  1   0  2  2  0   0
 Addison Johnson cf......  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Spencer Kieboom c........  4  0  0  0   0  0  7  2   0
Casey Harman p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  1   0
Totals................... 36  5  8  4   1 10 27  7   5

Auburn 2 (41-20)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Justin Fradejas rf.......  3  0  1  0   0  1  3  0   0
Trent Mummey cf..........  3  0  0  0   1  2  4  0   0
Brian Fletcher lf........  4  0  0  0   0  1  1  0   3
Hunter Morris 1b.........  3  1  1  1   0  0  5  0   1
Tony Caldwell dh.........  4  1  2  1   0  0  0  0   0
Dan Gamache 3b...........  4  0  0  0   0  2  0  0   0
Ryan Jenkins c...........  4  0  0  0   0  0 11  0   1
Casey McElroy ss.........  3  0  0  0   0  0  0  4   0
Justin Hargett 2b........  1  0  0  0   0  1  2  1   0
 Justin Bryant ph/2b.....  2  0  1  0   0  1  1  1   0
Grant Dayton p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Sean Ray p..............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 31  2  5  2   1  8 27  6   5

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Clemson............. 300 200 000 -  5  8  1
Auburn.............. 000 010 001 -  2  5  1
-------------------------------------------

E - MILLER(26); GAMACHE(16). DP - Clemson 2. LOB - Clemson 5; Auburn 5. 2B -
SHAFFER(9); BOYD(11). HR - FREEMAN(8); MORRIS(22); CALDWELL(10). HBP -
FRADEJAS; MORRIS.

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Casey Harman........  9.0  5  2  2  1  8 31 34

Auburn                 IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Grant Dayton........  7.2  7  5  4  1  9 31 32
Sean Ray............  1.1  1  0  0  0  1  5  5

Win - HARMAN (7-2).  Loss - DAYTON (8-3).  Save - None.
HBP - by HARMAN (MORRIS); by HARMAN (FRADEJAS).
Umpires - HP: Randy Bruns  1B: Randy Wetzel  2B: Kelly Gonzales  3B: Steve Corvi
 Start: 8:15 PM   Time: 2:24   Attendance: 4096

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