The same two Tiger teams that combined for 21 runs on 32 hits last evening wasted no time getting their offenses roaring again tonight, scoring 20 more runs on 32 more hits between the two of them. This time, however, it was the Tigers from Clemson that came out on top of the slugfest 13-7. By doing so, Clemson won the Regional Championship and earned a trip to the next round, the Super Regionals.
This time it was the Tigers from Clemson that got the runs rolling early, and once the both teams got involved the cat fight picked up right where it left off. In the first inning, Will Lamb led things off for Clemson with a groundout, but Mike Freeman followed that up with a single to left field, and Jeff Schaus followed that up with another single, this one to left-center field. With two runners on and one out, Kyle Parker would come to the plate. On a night in which he is expected to be drafted in the Major League’s 2010 draft, Parker showed why that is. Kyle blasted a three run shot over the center field wall, putting Clemson up early, 3-0. Brad Miller flied out next, and John Hinson would work a walk but would then be thrown out in a pick off at first base.
Heading to the bottom of the first with a three run lead, the Tigers hoped they would get a good outing from their starting pitcher, Scott Firth. And through the first inning at least, they got just that. Despite throwing two wild pitches that allowed a runner to advance on each, the freshman righty had a relatively easy inning, and got out of the jam without giving up any runs and allowing Clemson to keep their three run lead.
In the top of the second inning, Clemson batters would strike again. Richie Shaffer led things off with a walk, then Wilson Boyd doubled to center field, scoring Shaffer from first. That was all Auburn would get out of their starting pitcher, Jon Luke Jacobs, as both coaches had no choice but to use short leashes in an elimination game.
The next Auburn pitcher, Sean Ray, didn’t really fare much better. With Boyd on second base, the first batter Ray face, Spencer Kieboom, singled through the left side. Next up, Will Lamb was called upon to move the runners into scoring positions with a bunt, and he delivered. With the runners now at first and second and following a Mike Freeman strike out, Jeff Schaus singled to center field, scoring Kieboom and Boyd in the process. Parker would then strike out to end the inning, but not before Clemson had doubled its lead to 6-0.
The bottom of that same inning, though, Auburn would get their bats going too. Ryan Jenkins lead things off with a double before Casey McElroy grounded out pushing him to third. The next batter up, Creede Simpson, walked and then Justin Bryant singled to center, scoring Jenkins. With runners now on first and second, Justin Fradejas singled through the left side, scoring Simpson and ending the night for the Clemson starter, Scott Firth.
Clemson would then bring on another true freshman, right handed Dominic Leone. Trent Mummey was the first batter he faced and he reached on a fielding error, advancing the base runners to second and third, loading the bases for Dan Gamache. Gamache worked a bases loaded walk, scoring Bryant from third for the unearned run. Leone then got out of the inning, striking out Brian Fletcher and getting Hunter Morris to pop out, but not before Auburn had cut the lead in half and now only trailed 6-3.
Clemson would get back one of those three Auburn runs in the top of the third inning on a solo home run by John Hinson, but that would be all the offense of the inning for the Tigers. In the bottom half of that inning, the other Tigers would continue to chip away at Clemson’s lead. Jenkins started things off with a double down the left field line, and was followed up and scored on a double by McElroy. A called balk then moved McElroy to third where he would watch Simpson strike out looking but then would score on a single by Bryant. After Fradejas struck out looking for out number two, Mummey walked, advancing Bryant to second. Those runners would be stranded though, thwn Gamache would ground out. After inning number three, the score was 7-5 Clemson.
After a fourth inning that saw neither team score, each team would get one run apiece in the fifth. Clemson’s run came on a single by Brad Miller that scored Schaus from second where he stood after a lead off double. Auburn would get their run in the bottom of the fifth on two-out, solo home run by Mummey. After five full innings of play, the margin remained two, now at 8-6.
Both teams would again go scoreless in the sixth inning, and again they would both follow that inning up with runs in the seventh. After Jeff Schaus struck out looking for Clemson in the top of the inning, Parker worked a four pitch walk, and Miller followed that up with a bunt for a hit, pushing Parker to second. That would end the night for Auburns third pitcher, and they would bring in lefty Cory Luckie. Luckie faced John Hinson first after entering the game, and he would plunk him on his second pitch. The walk by Hinson would load the bases for Shaffer, and Richie took the third pitch he saw from Lukie for a ride down the left field line for a bases clearing double. The inning ended when Kieboom would strike out swinging, but not before Clemson had again stretched the lead to five runs, 11-6.
Auburn got one run back in the bottom of the seventh, again on a solo home run, this one by McElroy. After that home run, Simpson doubled to right center, ending the night for Alex Frederick, Clemson’s third pitcher. The next guy to take the mound for Clemson was Kevin Brady. The red-shirt freshman righty was able to take care of business and get out of the inning without giving up anymore runs, but Auburn had trimmed the lead to four, 11-7.
After Clemson batters went down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Auburn again threatened in the bottom of that inning. Gamache led it off with a double to left field, but Fletcher followed that up with a strike out looking. The next batter up, Morris lined it right at first base for out number two, and Shaffer was able to get it to short stop Brad Miller to catch Gamache off of second base for out number three.
Heading into the ninth inning with a four run lead, Clemson really wanted and needed to get some more insurance runs to feel comfortable at all. Parker led things off in the inning with a line out directly back to the pitcher for out number one, and then Brad Miller grounded out to third base for out number two. Things didn’t look good for scoring any insurance runs, but that was before Hinson doubled to center field and Shaffer walked.
Auburn then made another pitching change, and the new pitcher Cole Nelson was welcomed with a two out double by Boyd, scoring both Shaffer and Hinson, and giving Clemson the 13-7 lead before Kieboom ended it with a strike out.
In the games final half inning, the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Brady would again take the mound for Clemson, and just like it seems every inning had gone so far in the last two games in this regional, nothing was easy. After striking out Jenkins swinging, Brady gave up a single to McElroy up the middle and then a single to left field by Simpson. Now with runners on first and second, Bryant hit a blooper single into left field, loading the bases for Tony Caldwell. Caldwell struck out swinging, and brought Trent Mummey to the plate, bases still loaded, this time with two outs. Brady got Mummey to ground into the unassisted out at first base, ending the game and wrapping up the regional and the Regional Championship for the Clemson Tigers.
Junior Alex Frederick earned the wins for Clemson, going three innings giving up just six hits and two earned runs.
Jon Luke Jacobs suffered the loss, going just one inning giving up four hits and five earned runs.
During tonight’s game, Kyle Parker was taken as the 26th overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies. Kyle also founded the 20-20 club with that three run homer in the first inning, becoming the first ever player in division one history to throw 20 touch downs for the football team and then hit 20 home runs for the baseball team in the same year.
Jeff Schaus was 3-for-5 on the night, scoring twice and knocking in two RBI’s while Richie Shaffer was 1-for-3 with three RBI’s and also with two runs scored. John Hinson and Kyle Parker both hit home runs in the game.
Kevin Brady pitched a great game out of the bullpen, going three full innings giving up no runs on five hits, and striking out three of the 12 batters he faced.
Clemson now advances on to play the Crimson Tide of Alabama. Alabama knocked off the host of it’s regional, Georgia Tech, on Monday night as well. As of the time this article was done, it looks like Clemson will get to host the Super Regional match up, but nothing official is out yet on that.