It is easy to say Clemson just ran out of gas. It is easy to say the Tigers’ pitching was spent after coming all the way through the losers’ bracket on Sunday.
However, Clemson just got beat by a guy name Will Toffey and a pitcher named Matt Ruppenthal as Vanderbilt won the Clemson Regional with a 7-0 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Monday.
“Offensively, they were really good tonight,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “They had the big inning in the fifth inning and we just could not find a way to mount a comeback and put together good at-bats.”
The Commodores (36-23-1) advance to the Super Regional Round where they will play at Oregon State next week, while the Tigers’ season comes to a close for a seventh straight year in a regional, and the second straight they have lost at home.
After another long delay, this time a four and a half hour delay, the Tigers could not carry over the momentum they gained from Sunday’s wins over UNC Greensboro and Vanderbilt.
Toffey, who had 10 hits in the regional and hit better than .550, launched a two-run bomb in the top of third inning to put the Commodores on top 2-0. He later hit a three-run shot in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 5-0, and all but put the Tigers away.
Toffey finished the regional with 10 RBIs.
“Overall, today’s game was about Vanderbilt and their starting pitching and offensively they did a great job and they deserve to win,” Lee said.
While Toffey was doing his thing at the plate, Ruppenthal kept Clemson off balance. He worked the plate as he scattered three hits in six innings of work, while striking out five and walking one.
Clemson, who finished the season 42-21, had a chance to make things interesting in the bottom of the third inning when Jordan Greene reached with two outs, and Logan Davidson followed by ripping a double down the right field line, which appeared as if Greene had scored as he dodged the tag from Vandy catcher Jason Delay.
However, the umpire never made a signal and ruled Greene did not touch home plate. When Delay realized the situation, he chased Greene who was heading back to the Clemson dugout and recorded the out.
Instead of trailing 2-1 with the tying run on second base and putting pressure on Ruppenthal, the inning was over and the Tigers still trailed by two runs.
Trailing 7-0, the Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out, but Seth Beer struck out swinging on Reed Hayes’ off-speed pitch for the second out and then Chase Pinder hit a grounder to short for the final out.
“We just could not come up with a big hit,” Lee said.
Clemson’s 42-21 record in Monte Lee’s second year, gives the Tigers’ head coach an 86-41 mark for his first two years, including last year’s ACC Championship. Though those numbers are impressive, he and his Tigers would still love to be playing next week instead of again coming up just short in a regional.