Hinson a triple short of the cycle

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com breaks down the key players and moments from Clemson's 11-1 NCAA regional win over Sacred Heart.

POSITION PLAYER OF THE GAME - CLEMSON - JOHN HINSON: A triple shy of the cycle, Hinson reached base in all four plate appearances. The redshirt junior co-captain went 3 for 3 with a home run, three RBI, three runs scored, a walk and a stolen base.

Neither Hinson nor head coach Jack Leggett realized that he only needed a triple for the cycle.

"It's [Leggett's] team. Whatever he wants to do is 100 percent fine with all of us," Hinson said. "It's not about getting the cycle. It's about winning and making it to Omaha."

PITCHER OF THE GAME - CLEMSON - SCOTT FIRTH: Firth managed to work out of the two jams he found himself into during the fourth and fifth innings.

He gave up singles to the first three Sacred Heart batters in the fourth, but did not allow a run. He recorded the first two outs on pop flies to the outfield and the third on a groundout to short.

Sacred Heart first baseman Rob Griffith, who led-off the fifth with a double, advanced to third when Will Lamb misplayed a pop single by John Murphy. Griffith later scored on a fielder's choice.

"I just kind of knew to stick to the plan," Firth said. "Coach [Dan Pepicelli] always preaches one pitch at a time. That's definitely what I tried to stick to.

"[Chris] Epps here and [Jeff] Schaus made two strong throws to keep that guy at third. We were able to get out of that inning unscathed."

In six innings, Firth (5-1) allowed six hits and one run. He recorded five strikeouts and walked a batter during his seventh start of the season.

"I was excited when coach Leggett and coach Pep told me I was going to start," Firth said. "I knew that I had to go out there and give the team the best chance to win, just go out there, be aggressive and throw strikes."

PLAYER OF THE GAME - SACRED HEART - MATT FITTON: After allowing the three-run homer to Hinson on his first pitch, the junior lefty was solid in relief. Fitton allowed five hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. He was credited with just one run.

"It kept us respectable," Sacred Heart head coach Nick Giaquinto said of Fitton‘s work in relief. "It kept us in the game a little bit, if we put a few runs on the board. His effort was tremendous. That's what we were hoping for, what we needed as a team."

PLAY OF THE GAME: Dave Boisture robbed Richie Shaffer of a two-run home run in the third. Will Lamb tagged up and advanced from first to second.

"That's just a catch that you ream of making…I timed it up right, brought it back," Boisture said. "I felt like Ken Griffey Jr."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We knew they were one of the best teams in the country. We expected them to be the quality team that they are. We expected our team to play a little better." -Giaquinto

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Monday afternoon, just before 1 p.m. That's when the other three teams in the Clemson Regional were revealed. Sacred Heart was overmatched from the word go.

The Tigers' 11-run total could have been higher had Leggett not elected to call off the dogs in the last few innings.

As Giaquinto noted during his post-game press conference, Clemson had no need to get the wheels going on the base paths.

Hinson was the only Tiger that stole a base, upping the team's total to 102.

LOOKING AHEAD: Clemson will advance to play No. 3-seed Coastal Carolina, 13-1 winners over No. 2 UConn in the first game of the day. The Tigers and Chanticleers will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. The Pioneers and Huskies are scheduled to play at 3.

The two teams meet annually, usually for mid-week games. On April 5, Clemson beat Coastal Carolina 5-4 in 10 innings.

David Haselden pitched seven innings in relief of Justin Sarratt, who allowed four runs and six hits. Four Tiger batters recorded two hits in the game, which ended with a pinch hit RBI single by Jon McGibbon.

"They're a good baseball team," Leggett said of Coastal Carolina. "There's no question about it."

Coastal Carolina (42-18) won the Big South Tournament with a 4-0 record.

The Chanticleers are led by second baseman Tommy La Stella, who entered NCAA Tournament play batting .391 with 11 home runs and 63 RBI. He homered twice in the win over UConn.

Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore didn't name a starter before the Tigers' win, but he did say it would be a left-hander.

Clemson's left-handed heavy batting order has faced plenty of lefties all year, according to Hinson.

The likely candidate is Matt Rein, who is 9-2 with a 1.79 ERA and .2011 opponents' batting average in 70 2/3 innings of work.

"We've got a lot of good hitters on our team. Whoever they decide to throw at us, it's going to be a battle," Hinson said.

Before tournament play, Coastal Carolina was tied for 15th in the country with 99 stolen bases. Centerfielder Steve Woodward swiped his 31st bag of the season against UConn. The Chanticleers had added two more stolen bases before the game ended.

"They can put some pressure on you on the defensive side of things, because they run the bases well," Leggett said. "We've got a catcher that can throw back there. We've got a pitcher on the mound that will be aggressive. They've got some good pitching left. It's going to be a good match-up."

Dominic Leone was announced as the Tigers' starting pitcher.

Clemson leads the all-time series 39-7. At Kingsmore Stadium, the Tigers are 29-5. The two teams have met twice during NCAA Tournament play. In the 2007 Myrtle Beach Regional, Clemson won both games (11-8, 15-3).

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