Tigers roll in season opener

CLEMSON - On a picture perfect afternoon for baseball, opening day at Doug Kingsmore Stadium ended with a 14-3 rout of visiting Eastern Michigan.

BOX SCORE: Clemson 14 Eastern Michigan 3

Only two pitches into Clemson's first trip through the lineup, rightfielder Chris Epps sent a solo homerun over the left-centerfield wall. Fifteen hits and 13 runs later, the Tigers had their first win of the 2011 season.

So much for those aluminum bats that were supposed to put a premium on runs, right?

Wrong.

Despite the football-like score, college baseball's newly regulated bats did indeed make a difference on Friday. Of the 16 Clemson hits, only three went for extra bases.

"They played a little more lively today because the wind was blowing to leftfield, from the 400 sign to the left, so the field played a little bit smaller," said head coach Jack Leggett. "You're still going to get your hits. You're just not going to see as many long balls in the long run."

Epps admitted that his shot did indeed get a little help.

"I swung first pitch. I was pretty aggressive on it," he said. "I came around it, so I figured he would try to go away, because the first pitch was inside. I just tried to bury my front shoulder a little bit. He threw it down there away so I just took a pretty good swing on it and the wind helped me out a little bit."

A leadoff sixth inning triple from third baseman John Hinsonwas the Tigers' first extra-base hit since Epps' leadoff homer. Freshman first baseman Jay McGibbon, who went 2-for-2, had the other extra-base hit, an eighth inning double.

Clemson relied on singles, sacrifices and walks to drive in a majority of the runs.

"Offensively, I thought we were real good tonight. I thought we executed well," Leggett said.

After Epps' first inning shot, shortstop Brad Miller drove in a run on a bases loaded walk. A sacrifice fly to right field from third baseman John Hinson scored the third run of the inning. Catcher Spencer Kieboom, who drove in four, knocked in his first run with a sacrifice fly to right.

The Tigers added two more in the third with RBI from centerfielder Will Lamb and Kieboom.

Kieboom chased in another with a single in the fourth. Designated hitter Phil Pohl and second baseman Jason Stolz also platted runners during the three-run inning.

In the sixth, Pohl singled in Hinson for the only run of the inning.

The Tigers struck for three more in the seventh with another RBI from Kieboom, who was hit by a pitch. Hinson and freshman infielder Steve Wilkerson drove in the other two.

"At the end of last year I got on a roll a little bit," Kieboom said. "This year, I just want to keep it going."

Eastern Michigan first baseman Robert Wendzicki supplied the Eagles' offense with a three-run homer in the second off Scott Weismann.

Weismann, who lasted five innings, gave up the three runs over five hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

"It was good to get out there for the first time. The first time is always different," he said. "To get the first start out of the way feels good. I had that rough inning, but I felt like I finished strong."

David Haselden, Justin Sarratt and Joseph Moorefield combined for four innings in relief. The trio of relievers gave up just two hits and struck out two.

Dominic Leone is scheduled to start Saturday's 1 p.m. tilt against the Eagles. Kevin Brady gets the nod for the series finale on Sunday.


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