Steve Pyzik, the #9 batter in the lineup, drove in three runs, including the game-winner in the 10th inning, as #21 Clemson defeated Princeton 7-6 in 10 innings in the Auburn (AL) Regional at Plainsman Park. Clemson improved to 4-1 in extra-inning games and 7-2 in one-run games. Clemson also improved to 39-21 overall, while Princeton fell to 27-23.
Two Tiger relievers, both freshmen, pitched well to keep the Tigers alive. Josh Cribb did not allow an earned run in 2.1 innings pitched and struck out three. Kris Harvey pitched 1.1 scoreless and hitless innings to earn the win, improving to 4-1 on the season. Princeton reliever Thomas Pauly (6-2) suffered the loss.
Clemson took the game's first lead in the third inning after the first two batters were retired. Garrick Evans started the rally with a two-out double to right-center and Zane Green hit the first pitch he saw up the middle to drive home Evans. Michael Johnson then laced an 0-2 pitch to right-center for a double to plate Green.
B.J. Szymanski cut the Tiger lead in half with a long home run over the scoreboard in left-center, this third of the season.
Clemson responded with a run in the fourth inning. The Tigers loaded the bases with no outs, thanks in part to David Slevin's single, extending his hitting streak to 22 games. The streak is tied for fifth-longest in school history. But the Tigers could only manage on run, which came on Steve Pyzik's RBI fielder's choice to the pitcher.
Princeton came right back in the bottom of the fourth when it loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Eldridge fouled off many full count pitches before he blooped a single to right-center. Tim Lahey then singled through the right side and Ryan Reich bounced a grounder over Brad McCann at third. Andy Salini then hit a slow roller to Slevin at second, advancing all three runners. Two batters later, Eric Fitzgerald hit a 2-2 pitch up the middle after being down 0-2 in the count. Lahey scored from third, but Reich was thrown out at the plate on Kyle Frank's throw from centerfield.
Pyzik, a senior catcher from Mount Airy, MD, came through again in the sixth inning to give Clemson a 4-3 lead. With two outs and Triplett on second, he lined a 1-2 curveball to left field to plate a run.
Princeton tied the score 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Fitzgerald led off with a triple to right-center and scored on a wind-aided sacrifice fly to left field by Steve Young.
The Ivy League Tigers looked as if it might take the lead in the eighth inning. One-out singles by Lahey and Reich brought Salini up to the plate. But Clemson turned a double play on his sharp groundball to second base to end the threat.
The ACC Tigers came right back in the ninth inning. Pyzik battled back from being down 1-2 in the count to draw a walk and Evans beat out a sacrifice bunt on a close play at first for a hit. Green then followed suit when he beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt for a hit to load the bases with no outs. Johnson then hit a sacrifice fly to center to advance all three runners and give the Tigers the lead. Then with two outs, the Princeton catcher tried to frame an 0-2 fastball, but the ball tipped off his glove and on to the backstop, allowing Evans to score. It was only Lahey's fifth passed ball of the year.
Princeton rallied to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a costly error by Slevin at second base. With one out, Adam Balkan reached when Slevin booted an easy groundball. Balkan then scored on a double down the left-field line by Young, only his second extra-base hit of the year in 164 at bats. After Young advanced to third on out #2, Miller hit a wind-blown double to left-center to tie the score.
Clemson mounted another rally in the 10th inning. Triplett was hit by a pitch with one out and Ryan Hub lined a single off the left-field wall to move Triplett to third base. Then Pyzik grounded a base hit up the middle to plate Triplett and give the Tigers a one-run lead. Pyzik had two hits and three RBIs in the game. Every Tiger player also had at least one hit.
Princeton rallied again in the bottom of the 10th inning. Harvey hit Lahey with a pitch to leadoff the inning and pinch-hitter Mark Grayson walked. But luck was on Clemson's side this time, as Salini was not bunting and instead lined out to McCann at third, who was playing in on the grass. McCann then doubled off Lahey at second for out #2. Harvey then got Matthew Becker to ground out to end the game and keep the Tigers alive in the NCAA Tournament.
Clemson will play the loser of the Auburn-Ohio State game Saturday evening. The game will start at approximately 7:00 PM.
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