Tigers Take Series Over #10 UNC

In a battle for second place in the ACC standings, Clemson outlasted #10 North Carolina 4-2 in 10 innings Sunday afternoon in front of 1,653 fans at Boshamer Stadium. With the victory, Clemson took the series 2-1 and moved into second place in the ACC standings.

The Tigers improved to 22-14 overall, 8-4 in the ACC. The Tar Heels fell to 27-10 overall, 9-6 in ACC play.

North Carolina entered the series 6-0 in games decided by two runs or less, but lost games by one and two runs. It was also 3-0 in extra innings entering Sunday's game. Clemson entered the series just 2-8 in games decided by two runs or less, but won both close games. It was also the Tigers' first extra-inning win in three tries this year.

Reliever Steven Jackson (2-1) earned the win in relief, as he pitched 1.2 scoreless and hitless innings. In one week, Jackson earned victories at #6 South Carolina and #10 North Carolina. The Tar Heels used seven pitchers, including Friday's starter Daniel Bard. Bard (6-2), a freshman, allowed both runs in the 10th inning and suffered the loss, his second as a Tar Heel and second of the weekend.

The Tigers got off to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Herman Demmink slapped his first hit of the series, a double, down the left-field line and advanced to third when Kris Harvey's slow grounder was booted by second baseman Craig Corrado. It was the Tar Heels' first error of the series. Brad McCann then hit a grounder to third base that was not fielded cleanly by Bryan Steed at third base. Steed recovered in time to retire McCann at first, but Demmink scored from third.

The Tigers threatened again in the second inning, but came up empty. Russell Triplett drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a slow single through the right side by Andy D'Alessio. After Garrick Evans struck out looking and Demmink was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Harvey grounded out to end the inning.

North Carolina had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second, but three good defensive plays saved at least one run. Mike Daniel battled off several two-strike pitches before lining a soft single to center to lead off the frame. Daniel then stole second and tried to advance to third when catcher Lou Santangelo's throw went into centerfield. But Evans made a perfect throw to McCann to cut down Daniel at third for out #1. After Bryan Steed followed with a walk, D'Alessio made a nice stab of a hard grounder by Chase Younts for the second out, as Steed advanced to second. Then Corrado lined what looked like a single to left, but Russell Triplett snagged the liner for the inning-ending out.

The Tar Heels got on the board in the third inning, but the Tigers avoided the big inning. Jay Cox hit a one-out double down the right-field line and Chris Iannetta walked. Hubbard then laced a double past D'Alessio at first, plating Cox and advancing Iannetta to third. The hit chased Stephen Faris and brought Tony Sipp to the mound. Sipp promptly struck out the next to lefthanded-hitting Tar Heels to end the inning.

Thanks to three Tar Heel errors in the fifth inning, the Tigers scored a run. Harvey reached on another fielding error by Corrado and McCann reached when Steed committed an error at third base. Daniel, the left-fielder, booted the ball that got past Steed, allowing the runners to move to second and third. Santangelo then grounded a slow roller to second base with the infield playing back to plate Harvey. However, John Ingram grounded out to end the inning. Through five innings, the Tigers were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

The Tigers escaped a two-out Tar Heel rally unscathed in the bottom of the fifth inning. Demmink snagged Cox's liner for out #2, a play that proved big in the inning. Iannetta and Hubbard followed with line-drive singles. Pinch-hitter Mell Adams then hit a liner to left, but right at Harvey for out #3.

North Carolina came right back in the sixth inning. Pinch-hitter Blair Waggett hit the first pitch of the inning softly to left-center for a leadoff single. Steed sacrificed Waggett to second with a bunt back to the pitcher, then pinch-hitter Ross Cook grounded slowly back to Sipp for out #2, as Waggett advanced to third. Sipp came through again when he got Corrado to fly out to Evans in right-center to end the threat.

Evans led off the seventh with an infield single to third base, but stumbled past the bag and went down with a leg injury. He laid on the ground for several minutes before he was carried off the field by two of his teammates. Demmink moved pinch-runner Zane Green up a base with a sacrifice bunt, then Harvey flied out to center. After intentionally walking McCann, Santangelo hit a grounder up the middle, but Corrado was playing him there and stepped on second for the inning-ending out.

Clemson put runners on first and second with no outs thanks to back-to-back, leadoff walks by pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin (on four pitches) and Storrer. Storrer was actually squared around to sacrifice Colvin on every pitch of his at-bat. Then Triplett attempted to sacrifice the runners up, but for the second at-bat in a row he bunted back to the pitcher, who threw to third for out #1. Then D'Alessio hit a sharp grounder, but right at the shortstop, who began the 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

Wes Moyer led off the eighth inning with a single to right on an 0-2 pitch. Then on another 0-2 pitch, Waggett successfully bunted Moyer to second base. Steed followed with a line-drive double down the left-field line on a 1-2 pitch to plate pinch-runner Garry Bakker and tie the score 2-2. It was the freshman's first double as a Tar Heel and second extra-base hit as well. After Collin Mahoney relieved Sipp, he struck out Cook on three pitches and Corrado looking to end the inning.

Mangum nearly ended the game when he led off the ninth inning with a deep drive to right-center, but Sipp made the catch on the warning track for out #1. The Tigers brought in Steven Jackson out of the bullpen in relief of Mahoney after he walked Cox. Sipp made another good run and catch of a blooper in shallow centerfield off the bat of Iannetta for out #2, then Hubbard drew a two-out walk. Freshman Brack Massey, a late-inning defensive sub who entered the game 2-for-14 with no RBIs on the season, grounded two balls just outside the base lines that would have ended the game. But Jackson battled and struck Massey out looking on a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner.

After McCann sharply grounded out to third base to leadoff the 10th inning, Santangelo hit a line-drive, opposite-field home run down the right-field line to put the Tigers ahead 3-2. Santangelo, a junior transfer from Seton Hall, had played at Boshamer Stadium in three-game series both in 2002 and 2003 as a Pirate. It was Santangelo's 10th homer this season and came off Bard. It was also the first and only homer of the series by either team. Jackson hit for himself and nearly grounded the ball past the third baseman, but was retired at first.

Ryan Hub began a two-out rally in the 10th inning when he drew a walk and Triplett followed with a sharp single to center, advancing Hub to second. D'Alessio followed with a hard ground ball up the middle that took a bad hop over the glove of Mangum at shortstop. The hit was Clemson's first in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Hub scored from second, Triplett advanced to third, and D'Alessio went to second on a throwing error by Waggett in centerfield. However, the Tigers stranded two more runners in scoring position when Sipp grounded out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Waggett struck out on a 1-2 breaking ball low and away for out #1. Steed then flew out to Harvey in left-center for the second out, and Cook grounded out to Jackson to end the game.

D'Alessio led the Tigers with two hits, while Santangelo had two RBIs. Hubbard led the Tar Heels with three hits and an RBI in four at-bats. Clemson was aided by five Tar Heel errors, while the Tiger defense was errorless.

Clemson will next play host to The Citadel Tuesday at 7:15 PM at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. It will the first game of a 14-game homestand for the Tigers.

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