Tigers one win away from playing for National Championship

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Alex Frederick had just two saves in the first 42 games of his career, but now has saved the last two CWS games.
Alex Frederick had just two saves in the first 42 games of his career, but now has saved the last two CWS games.

OMAHA, NE - The same Clemson team that lost 15 out of 22 games in late March and into April, the same team that came into Omaha as an afterthought No. 8 seed, is now just one win away from playing for a National Championship.

The 8th-seeded Tigers took another step closer to realizing their dream on Wednesday when they held on against Oklahoma in the continuation of a rain-postponed game, defeating the Sooners 6-4 at Rosenblatt Stadium by getting key relief pitching out of Alex Frederick for the second straight game and now stand just one victory away from winning their side of the bracket.

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said that even during the losing streak, this opportunity was always on his mind.

"Absolutely, you never stop dreaming about it," Leggett said. "Never stop thinking about it. It's a long season. It's frustrating there for a while. But that's behind us. I'm just focused on how we're playing here at the end. And I always think about it. I think about it every day. I think about playing here at Rosenblatt and playing in the College World Series every day."

Third baseman John Hinson said the key was keeping their confidence, even in the dry times.

"We stayed confident through that slip and through that tough spell we had in the middle of the season. But baseball is a crazy game," Hinson said. "Sometimes you lose. But you always have tomorrow. That's the way we look at it. And you've got to take it one game at a time and that's what we've been doing as of late and playing well like that. So, yeah, we had that in the back of our head the entire time to play for a national championship and hopefully we come out and we play well on Friday and just do our thing and get the opportunity."

The Tigers now have two days to sit back and await the winner of Thursday's elimination game between Oklahoma and South Carolina. The winner of that game will meet Clemson on Friday, and a win by Clemson in that game would propel them into the championship round, while the opponent would have to beat the Tigers twice to advance.

The game was started Tuesday evening, but rain and lightning hit the Omaha area at the end of the fifth inning, and the decision was made to re-start the game Wednesday afternoon prior to the TCU and Florida St. game.

At the time of the postponement, the Tigers were leading 6-1.

The teams were scoreless through three innings, but the Sooners used a soft infield hit, a stolen base and a soft single to center to score the first run of the game in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, the Tiger offense finally got off the bus, with a little help from Sooner starting pitcher Bobby Shore.

Shore walked three consecutive batters to open the bottom of the fourth, throwing 14 straight balls at one point, and John Hinson made him pay with a sharp single to center that scored Jeff Schaus with the first Clemson run. Shore was finished for the evening at that point, and he was replaced by righty Jack Mayfield.

Richie Shaffer greeted Mayfield with a sharp liner to center, a sacrifice fly, that scored Kyle Parker and allowed Brad Miller to advance to third. Wilson Boyd walked on four pitches to re-load the bases and Spencer Kieboom made Mayfield pay by drilling a single to right that scored two runs and moved Boyd to third with one out. The Tigers were unable to add more runs, but still held a 4-1 lead at the end of the fourth.

The Tigers got a little two-out lightning and a gift in the bottom of the fifth, with Kyle Parker tripling deep off the center field wall with two down. Brad Miller was next, and he lofted a fly ball to deep left that should have been an easy out to end the inning, but leftfielder Max White let the ball glance off his glove for a two-base error, allowing Parker to score. John Hinson made the error hurt even more when he singled through the right side to score Miller, and Clemson led 6-1 at the end of five innings.

At that point, the rain and lightning showed up and play was suspended until Wednesday, and lefty Will Lamb replaced Weismann on the mound, and he dispatched the Sooners under bright and sunny skies in the top of the sixth. However, the Sooners got a run back in the top of the seventh when Oklahoma first baseman Cameron Seitzer unloaded his 16th home run of the year, a shot into the right center field seats, to cut into Clemson's lead at 6-2. In the eighth, the Sooners struck for another solo shot, this one the 10th of the year by catcher Tyler Ogle, and a walk and a ringing double by the next two batters chased Lamb with the Tigers leading 6-3 and the tying run coming to the plate.

Lamb was replaced by freshman righty Dominic Leone, who battled Seitzer to a 3-2 count before walking him to load the bases. eone got out of the inning, however, by getting pinch hitter Casey Johnson to softly pop out to Miller at short on an 0-1 count to end the inning and preserve the 6-3 lead.

Leone walked the leadoff batter, Chris Ellison, to begin the ninth, and he was replaced by Alex Frederick, the hero of Clemson's first game on Monday. Frederick got Max White on a grounder to Hinson for the first out, struck out Garrett Buechele on just three pitches, but Ogle doubled to deep right center to score Ellison to make it 6-4. Frederick avoided further damage by getting Cody Reine to pop out to left to end the game and pick up his fourth save of the season and second of the College World Series.

"I feel like every time I go out there I just try to do my best no matter what the situation is," Frederick said. "And confidence comes along with how you feel, the people behind you, the support you have, and usually how the pitcher before you is doing. You can just build off the momentum. I feel if I go out there and we're upbeat, ready to play, I'll do my job and I'll try to do the best I can."
Leggett said he was pleased with the way his team responded to the rain.

"It's kind of a tale of different days. Yesterday I thought Scotty Weismann went out and pitched well for five innings," Leggett said. "Would like to squeeze maybe another inning or two before the rain came because he was pitching so well. But we did a nice job I think offensively in the one run, when they scored one run, we bounced back and scored four.

"Their kid had trouble finding the strike zone. We were able to take advantage of that, got some big hits by Spencer Kieboom during that inning. And then we were fortunate to grab the two runs the next inning, Kyle Parker's triple and the ball to left field and John Hinson's ball to the right side. I knew those were going to be two big runs for us when we left the ballpark yesterday. So I"m just pleased we're in the position we're at. Day off tomorrow, we'll be ready to play on Friday. "

Leggett said in the postgame press conference that the coaching staff would sit back and take a look at the matchups, whether they play South Carolina or Oklahoma, before deciding on a starting pitcher for Friday.

Oklahoma 4 (50-17)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
Chris Ellison cf.........  4  1  1  0   1  2  1  0   0
Max White lf.............  5  0  0  0   0  2  2  0   0
Garrett Buechele 3b......  5  0  0  0   0  1  1  0   1
Tyler Ogle c.............  4  1  2  2   1  0  8  2   0
Cody Reine rf............  5  1  2  0   0  1  1  0   1
Caleb Bushyhead ss.......  3  0  1  1   1  1  2  4   0
Danny Black 2b...........  3  0  1  0   0  1  0  5   1
Cameron Seitzer 1b.......  2  1  1  1   2  1  9  0   1
 Erik Ross pr............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Kaleb Herren 1b.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Ricky Eisenberg dh.......  3  0  0  0   0  1  0  0   3
 Casey Johnson ph/dh.....  1  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   3
Bobby Shore p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Jack Mayfield p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 J.R. Robinson p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Jeremy Erben p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 35  4  8  4   5 10 24 11  10

Clemson 6 (45-23)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
Chris Epps dh............  5  0  0  0   0  2  0  0   1
Mike Freeman 2b..........  4  0  0  0   0  2  0  1   1
Jeff Schaus lf...........  2  1  0  0   2  0  3  0   0
Kyle Parker rf...........  3  2  1  0   1  1  2  0   1
Brad Miller ss...........  3  2  1  0   1  0  1  0   0
John Hinson 3b...........  4  1  3  2   0  1  1  2   1
Richie Shaffer 1b........  1  0  0  1   2  0  3  0   1
Wilson Boyd cf...........  3  0  0  0   1  0  7  0   1
Spencer Kieboom c........  3  0  1  2   1  1 10  0   0
Scott Weismann p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Will Lamb p.............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Dominic Leone p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Alex Frederick p........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 28  6  6  5   8  7 27  3   7

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
Oklahoma............ 000 100 111 -  4  8  1
Clemson............. 000 420 00X -  6  6  1

E - WHITE(5); MILLER(31). DP - Oklahoma 1. LOB - Oklahoma 10; Clemson 7. 2B
- OGLE(11); BLACK(11). 3B - PARKER(1). HR - OGLE(10); SEITZER(16). SH -
BLACK(8). SF - SHAFFER(3). SB - REINE(4); HINSON 2(25). CS - BOYD(4).

Oklahoma               IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
Bobby Shore.........  3.0  2  4  4  5  0 10 15
Jack Mayfield.......  0.1  1  0  0  1  0  1  3
J.R. Robinson.......  3.2  3  2  0  2  6 14 16
Jeremy Erben........  1.0  0  0  0  0  1  3  3

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
Scott Weismann......  5.0  3  1  1  2  4 18 21
Will Lamb...........  2.2  3  2  2  2  5 11 13
Dominic Leone.......  0.1  1  1  1  1  0  2  3
Alex Frederick......  1.0  1  0  0  0  1  4  4

Win - WEISMANN (9-2).  Loss - SHORE (10-5).  Save - FREDERICK (4).
WP - SHORE(5).
Umpires - HP: Paul Guillie  1B: A.J. Lostaglio  2B: Jim Jackson  3B: Chris
Coskey  Start: 8:08 PM   Time: 3:26   Attendance: 21527
Game notes:
Due to inclement weather, play was halted at end of the 5th at 10:08 PM.
Play resumed on June 23 at 3:34 PM.
SHORE faced 4 batters in the 4th.
ROBINSON faced 1 batter in the 8th.
LEONE faced 1 batter in the 9th.

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