By Trey McCurry.
No. 5 Clemson (3-1) scored in each of the first seven innings and cruised to a 15-4 win over Cincinnati (1-3) in front of 4,804 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in both team’s opening game of the First Pitch Invitational.
Scott Weismann (2-0) threw five innings of two-run ball to earn the win. The junior righty, who retired the first ten batters of the game, allowed three hits and one walk while striking out four. Scott Firth, Addison Johnson, and Joseph Moorefield combined to pitch the final 4.0 innings for the Tigers. Bearcat starter Brad Mergen (0-1) took the loss, allowing four hits, three walks, and five runs with a strikeout in 1.0 innings.
Clemson wasted no time in getting on the board to start the game. Chris Epps led off with a walk and moved to second on a Brad Miller groundout. Jeff Schaus followed with a single up the middle to score Epps and put Clemson up 1-0. Richie Shaffer walked to give the Tigers runners on first and second but Clemson was unable to push across any more runs.
The Tigers were at it again in the second as they put five more runs on the board. Will Lamb led off with an infield single and moved to third on a Phil Pohl double. After a wild pitch scored Lamb, Jason Stolz singled to score Pohl. After Epps and Miller walked, Stolz scored on another wild pitch and Epps came in on when Schaus reached on an error. Shaffer then grounded into a double play, but Miller came in to score. After singles by John Hinson and Spencer Kieboom, Lamb grounded out to end the inning, but the Tigers lead was now 6-0.
Clemson pushed another run across in the third. Pohl led off with a single, Stolz walked, and Epps singled to load the bases. After two outs, Shaffer was hit-by-pitch to score Pohl and stretch the lead to 7-0.
The Tigers added another two runs in the fourth. Kieboom and Lamb each walked to start the inning and Stolz reached on a fielder’s choice when Lamb raced to beat the throw at second. After two outs, Bearcat pitcher Thomas Gentile threw a wild pitch allowing Kieboom to score. The catcher had trouble finding the ball on the play and Lamb was able to score from second on the play, just beating the throw and leaving the Tigers up 9-0 after four innings of play.
After Cincinnati was able to push across two runs in the top of the fifth, Clemson answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. After an out, Shaffer walked and moved to third on a Hinson single. Kieboom followed with a single to score Shaffer and put the Tigers ahead 10-2.
The Tigers used a couple of pinch hitters to get another run in the sixth. Jon McGibbon was hit-by-pitch to start the inning, but was out on Steve Wilkerson’s fielder’s choice. Dominic Attanasio then singled to advance Wilkerson who came in to score on a Miller singled and stretch the Clemson lead by to nine at 11-2.
Clemson wrapped up their scoring with four more runs in the seventh. Shaffer and Hinson each led off with walks and Kieboom singled to load the bases. Pinch hitter Joe Costigan, in his first career plate appearance, walked to score Shaffer. McGibbon followed with a walk of his own to score Hinson. After an out, Attanasio singled for the second time in two at-bats to plate both Kieboom and Costigan to put the Tigers up 15-2 after seven.
Addison Johnson made his first pitching appearance at Clemson in the eighth, and allowed a Bearcat run. After the first three Cincinnati batters singled, Johnson was able to get Justin Riddell to ground into a double play, but a run was able to score on the play and Cincinnati cut the Clemson lead to 15-3 after eight.
The Bearcats wrapped up with scoring with an unearned run in the ninth off reliever Joseph Moorefield to make the final 15-4.
Kieboom three hits led Clemson’s 15-hit attack. Attanasio, Miller, Hinson, and Pohl also all had two hits each. Seventeen different Tigers had at least one plate appearance and the Tigers had 12 walks and two hit-by-pitches.
With tonight’s win, Jack Leggett moved into sole possession of 20th place in the all-time wins list by a Division I head coach with 1,149 wins. He joins former Tiger skipper Bill Wilhelm (tied for 15th with 1,161 wins) in the top-20 list.
Clemson will play their second game of the First Pitch Invitational Saturday at 1:00PM as the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (2-3) travel to Doug Kingsmore Stadium.