Tigers Nip # 18 N.C. State 5-4 Friday to Stay Alive in ACC Tournament
Robert Rohrbaugh struck out a career-high 10 batters, and #12 Clemson held off a ninth-inning rally to defeat #18 N.C. State 5-4 Friday afternoon in an elimination game in the ACC Tournament at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Rohrbaugh nearly gave the Tigers back-to-back complete games after Josh Cribb went the distance in a 9-1 victory over #8 Miami (FL) on Thursday. Clemson, the #2 seed, improved to 39-20, while N.C. State, the #6 seed, fell to 40-17.
Rohrbaugh (7-2) retired the first 11 batters and allowed just two hits in the first eight innings. Overall, he pitched a career-long 8.2 innings, allowing just four hits, four runs (one earned run), and three walks with 10 strikeouts to earn the victory. Jeff Hahn pitched the final 0.1 innings to record his third save of the season. Freshman righthander Matt Payne (2-1), who was making his first career start, allowed four runs on six hits in 1.0 innings pitched and suffered the loss. Phillip Davidson stifled Tiger batters in relief of Payne. He allowed just one run on three hits in 6.1 innings pitched.
The Tigers won their eighth game in a row over the Wolfpack in ACC Tournament play, while Head Coach Jack Leggett improved to 7-0 against N.C. State in the ACC Tournament. Clemson also improved to 17-7 against top-25 ranked teams and has won 11 of its last 12 games.
The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning thanks to four two-out hits. Brad Chalk and Taylor Harbin hit one-out singles, and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. The hits extended each freshman's hitting streak to 12 games. After Tyler Colvin struck out for out #2, Kris Harvey picked Colvin up with a two-run double past a diving Matt Devine at third base. Travis Storrer followed with a line-drive single to right field to score Harvey. Andy D'Alessio hit a single to left-center to move Storrer to third, then Stan Widmann lined a single to center to bring home Storrer.
N.C. State cut the Tiger lead in half in the sixth inning. Jonathan Diaz reached when Widmann was unable to catch a pop fly in shallow left field. After Rohrbaugh retired the next two Wolfpack batters, Aaron Bates hit a two-run homer to left-center, his 12th of the season. Both runs were unearned.
Clemson got one of those runs back in the seventh inning. After asking for timeout and not receiving it, Harbin crushed a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left field for a solo homer, his 10th of the season. It was his first long ball since his three-homer game at N.C. State on April 23.
That run proved pivotal, as N.C. State mounted a two-out rally in the ninth inning. Jake Muyco singled through the left side with two outs and scored on Brian Aragon's double to right field. Pinch-hitter Ryan Pond drew a walk to put the tying run on first base, then the Tigers elected to turn to Hahn. Pinch-hitter Lee Mezistrano hit a chopper over the pitchers' mound. Harbin fielded the ball behind second base, but his underhand toss to Widmann was slightly off. All runners were safe on the single, and Aragon scored when the ball got away too far from Widmann. But Hahn struck out Jonathan Diaz to end the game.
Clemson will play Virginia on Saturday at 10:00 AM on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS). Clemson will be designated the visiting team and occupy the first-base dugout. The Tigers must win to remain in the tournament. If the Tigers defeat the Cavaliers on Saturday morning, the two teams will match up again at 4:00 PM on Saturday to determine the winner of the bracket.