Home Run Derby For Clemson In Victory Over Auburn

Auburn allowed the most home runs in a game since 1998 as Clemson won the first game of a three-game series 14-9.

Clemson, S.C.--It had been 10 games since Auburn pitchers had allowed a home run, but Clemson changed that dramatically with four home runs in the first five innings and five overall in the game on the way to a 14-9 victory in game one of the three game series between the two Top-25 teams. After trailing 9-0 early, Auburn came back to make a game of it late, but Clemson scored in every inning and added three big runs in the eighth put the game away. Auburn starter Cory Dueitt struggled mightily, giving up six hits and eight runs in just four innings to get his first loss of the season.

By contrast Clemson starter Jason Berken was fantastic in the start. He was particularly strong to start the game as he didn't allow an Auburn hit until the third and not another until a Tug Hulett double to open the sixth. and struck out eight in the first four innings. Renfroe said Berken was just too much for Auburn on a day when nothing seemed to go right, but his team never quit fighting. The loss drops #7 Auburn to 14-2 on the year while 25th-ranked Clemson moves to 6-5.

"They came out and just pounded it," Renfroe said. "You get down nine runs and there was just no answer for that early. We battled and got in it and really felt good there. We battled back and we talked. We're not pleased with ‘oh, we battled back'. It was pretty ugly. There were a lot of things that weren't good, but the good thing was we really played hard."

It didn't take long for Clemson to get things going off Dueitt as Travis Storrer hit a one-out home run in the first to make it 1-0. That lead would only build in the second as Andy D'Alessio singled up the middle with one out to put the pressure on Dueitt. Shortstop Russell Triplett then drilled a long fly ball to left field that climbed over the fence for a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third with one out. A ground ball by Herman Demmink would later score D'Alessio and make it 2-0 Clemson.

Things would go from bad to worse for Auburn in the third as Clemson would get their second look at Dueitt and make it count. Tony Sipp earned a walk to start the inning and quickly stole second to get into scoring position. Storrer also walked to bring powerful Brad McCann to the plate. Jumping on a pitch, he drilled it into left for a single to score Sipp. Catcher Lou Santangelo then capped the scoring in the inning with a long home run to left-center, making it 6-0 Clemson.

Following another dominating inning by Berken, Clemson would stretch the lead even more in the bottom of the fourth. With one out Sipp was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a ground ball off the bat of Storrer. He would be able cruise home in style as McCann bombed a long home run over the left field wall to make it 8-0 Clemson. Dueitt would get Santangelo to end the inning, but that would put an end to his day as Grant Cardwell came on for the Tigers.

Auburn finally got to Berken in the fifth, but couldn't make it pay off with a run. With two outs and nobody on Josh Sullivan was hit on the arm by a pitch and stayed in the game, but was later removed in favor of Kyle Mayo. Sullivan had some swelling in his wrist and is day-to-day the rest of the weekend. Hitting star J.T. Williamson then walked and Clete Thomas did the same to load the bases for Ben Sprague. Berken buckled down when it mattered most as he coaxed Sprague into a ground ball to end the inning.

Cardwell had been perfect so far on the season in five innings, but Brady Everett put an end to that quickly with a solo home run to left field to make it 9-0 Clemson. The sophomore left-hander would settle down and retire Clemson 1-2-3 the rest of the way and bring his club to the plate down 9-0 heading to the sixth inning.

Josh Bell hit his sixth home run of the season.

After being stifled by Berken for much of the game, Auburn finally did some damage with the bats as Tug Hulett led off the inning with a long double into center field. Josh Bell then did some long ball play of his own as he drilled an opposite-field home run to right to put Auburn on the board, trailing 9-2. One out later Chuck Jeroloman walked and Derek Sain followed with a double just inside the bag at third base. With runners on second and third Mayo hit a sacrifice fly to score Jeroloman. Williamson then closed the scoring for the Tigers with a double off the wall in left field to score Sain from second. Now trailing 9-4 Auburn would try to make an improbable comeback on the road.

It wouldn't come before Clemson would score another run in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI single from McCann to push the lead to six. Auburn would get out of the inning with no further damage and continued to chip away at the lead in the seventh. Ben Sprague led off the inning with a single to left and Hulett followed with a bunt single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Bell then hit a slow roller to third base where McCann threw to Demmink at second base, but he dropped the ball to load the bases with nobody out.

That would be all for Berken on the day as Scott Rohrbaugh came on in relief to face gamble and promptly threw a wild pitch that scored Sprague from third and moved up Hulett and Bell. Gamble did his job, hitting a ground ball that scored Hulett to cut the lead to four. Facing Clemson's third pitcher of the day, Jeroloman drilled a double to left to score Bell. He would move to third on a wild pitch and score just moments later on a ground ball by Sain. Now trailing just 10-8 Auburn would look to do something they had not done the entire game, keep Clemson from scoring.

Unfortunately, the long ball would again haunt Auburn and freshman pitcher Jared Shore. Facing Triplett, Shore grooved a fastball that the shortstop deposited over the left field wall for Clemson's sixth home run of the game. Down by three once again, Auburn wouldn't give up hope as Williamson again ignited a rally in the eighth with an infield single that he reached second on after an error by McCann. Following a ground ball by Thomas that moved him to third, Williamson would score on a Sprague single to right field.

Williamson had two hits for the Tigers.

Auburn had two chances to either cut into the lead or tie the game with Hulett and Bell up next, but neither could get it done was Hulett hit a ground ball for the second out and Bell struck out against closer Patrick Hogan to end the inning and the Auburn threat. Just like they had done all day Clemson answered back to put the game away.

Sipp reached to lead off the inning and quickly stole second to move into scoring position. One out later McCann hit a high chopper over the head of John Madden on the mound and beat a throw by Hulett to put runners on the corners with one out. That would be all for Madden as Michael Nix came on to face Santangelo. Nibbling to try to get a ground ball, he walked him to load the bases for Everett.

It appeared as if Auburn might get out of the inning as he hit a sharp grounder to Jeroloman at short. After not making an error in his last 53 chances, Jeroloman couldn't handle the ball and Sipp scored to make it 12-9. That would prove costly as D'Alessio doubled to deep left field to score both McCann and Santangelo to give Clemson the insurmountable 14-9 lead.

The two teams play the second game of the series Saturday at 1 p.m. with junior Arnold Hughey going for Auburn against Tyler Lumsden for Clemson. Hughey is 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA this season while Lumsden is 0-0 with a 3.75 earned run average.

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