By Trey McCurry.
Clemson used a seven-run sixth inning to defeat Georgia 11-5 on Tuesday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers improved to 14-9 overall, while the Bulldogs fell to 11-14. With the win, Jack Leggett moved into a tie for 18th place on the all-time wins list by a head coach at a Division I school with 1,160 wins.
Kevin Pohle (3-0), the fourth of seven Clemson pitchers, earned the win by retiring the only batter he faced. Will Lamb struck out a career-high six batters in 3.1 innings of relief, as the Tiger pitching staff combined for 12 strikeouts in the game. Six Tiger relievers combined to allow only six hits and two runs in 7.0 innings. Patrick Boling (0-2), the fourth of seven Georgia pitchers, suffered the loss as he walked all four batters he faced and they all came around to score in the Tigers big sixth inning.
Georgia jumped out to a quick lead with two runs in the top of the first inning. The Bulldogs used two hits, a walk, and a failed pickoff attempt to push the runs across in the inning. The Bulldogs added another run in the second with a two-out single.
Clemson was able to get on the board with a single run in the bottom of the second inning. Richie Shaffer led off with a single and moved to second on a Brad Miller walk. After Spencer Kieboom reached on an infield single, Chris Epps hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Shaffer and advanced Miller to third. The Bulldogs were able to avoid further damage when Jason Stolz grounded into an inning-ending double play to keep their lead at 3-1.
After another Georgia run in the fourth to stretch their lead to 4-1, Epps led off the fifth inning with a solo homer to deep right field to cut the lead to 4-2. The homer was Epps fifth of the season, a career high.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Clemson used five walks, a hit-by-pitch, and two hits to plate seven runs. Miller, Kieboom, and Epps led off with walks to load the bases. Stolz drew another walk to score Miller and cut the Bulldog lead to 4-3. After a pitching change, Jon McGibbon followed with a sacrifice fly to bring Kieboom in and tie the game. John Hinson then reached on a fielder’s choice when Georgia second baseman Levi Hyams fumbled the ball and was not able to complete a potential inning-ending double play. After a Jeff Schaus walk, Phil Pohl reached on a hit-by-pitch to score Epps and put the Tigers ahead 5-4. Shaffer followed with his first career grand slam to deep left-center to put the Tigers ahead 9-4. It was Shaffer’s fourth homer of the year and the Tigers second grand slam in 2011. Shaffer’s hit scored the seventh run of the inning for Clemson on the Tigers first hit of the inning.
After Georgia was able to scratch across a run in the seventh to cut the Tigers lead to 9-5, Clemson answered right back in the bottom of the frame. Epps led off with a walk and moved to second on a Stolz single. After a McGibbon sac bunt to move both runners, Hinson lined a sac fly to right-center to score Epps and stretch the Clemson lead back to 10-5.
Clemson added another run in the bottom of the eighth. Shaffer walked with one out and then stole second base, his third stolen base of the season. Kieboom followed with a two-out single down the right field line to score Shaffer and bring the final score to 11-5.
For the game, Clemson totaled 11 hits, 10 walks, and a hit-by-pitch against only two strikeouts. Shaffer went 2-for-4 with a grand slam, three runs, a walk, and a stolen base to lead the Tigers. Hinson was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, while Kieboom was 2-for-4 with a walk and a RBI. Epps went 2-for-2 with a homer, two RBI, two walks, and three runs.
Clemson will be back in action this weekend as they travel to Chapel Hill to take on #6 North Carolina in a key ACC series beginning Friday at 7:00PM.