Pitching Carries Tigers

CLEMSON – Even before the season started, Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett said if the Tigers were going to win it was going to have to be with pitching and defense. Friday's game against UC Irvine was a perfect example of what he meant. <br>

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Four Clemson pitchers combined to throw 13 strikeouts and hold the 18th-ranked Anteaters to just seven hits to get the dramatic 3-2 Tigers victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

"We've got to pitch and play defense," Leggett said. "And we did a good job of that tonight."

Clemson starting pitcher Josh Cribb, a redshirt junior, had a career-high eight strikeouts in 6-1/3 innings, but did not get the win. That went to Daniel Moskos, who faced only one batter and got the last out in the top of the eighth.

"I was hitting my spots with my fastball, which is what you have to do with your fastball," Cribb said. "We're going to have to rely on pitching and defense. If it's there, we'll scrap around and get some runs and get some wins."

Redshirt sophomore Stephen Clyne may have provided the game's biggest surprise when he was called on by Leggett to pitch the ninth and get the save. He didn't disappoint as he struck out the side to secure the win.

This was just Clyne's second appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery some 14 months ago.

"I'm just so glad to see Stephen Clyne come in and do a good job for us out there," Leggett said. "He was the right guy at that point. We're kind of doing it by committee. I think we haven't really settled on that yet. Whoever is hot, we'll probably ride him through the end of the game.

"We've just got to find that everyday guy and maybe we found the right guy tonight in Clyne."

Clyne was able to get the opportunity for the save after the Tigers (2-2) went ahead in the eighth inning off two costly errors on the same play.

Clemson's Brad Chalk led off with a walk, which brought up Taylor Harbin, who attempted to move Chalk over with a sacrifice bunt. But pitcher Nash Robertson (0-1) fielded the bunt and threw it to second in an attempt to nail Chalk.

However, the throw short-hopped second baseman Brett Dalton and it squirted just into the grass in right field, which allowed Chalk to run to third and Harbin attempt to get to second.

Centerfielder Erik Johnson finally fielded the ball and rushed his throw to second trying to get Harbin. But once again, the throw short-hopped Dalton and rolled to third, which allowed Chalk to score from third and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.

"We were just fortunate to force a mistake tonight and take advantage of it," Leggett said.

Cribb was a little shaky in the top of the first inning, allowing two doubles and Irvine's first run of the game.

Johnson got a leadoff-double to left field and was then sacrificed over by a bunt by Dalton. One batter later, Mark Wagner grounded out to shortstop, which allowed Johnson to come home and grab a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers, however, tied things up at 1-1 in the second after Tyler Colvin smacked a leadoff-double to left field and trotted home two batters later on a Herman Demmink double to left-center field.

Clemson took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Harbin cranked a 0-2 pitch to right-center field for a triple, which scored Adrian Casanova from third.

The Anteaters rallied to square things at 2-2 in the eighth with a pair of two-out doubles, the second of which was came from Matt Anderson, who finished the day 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles.

The Tigers play Game 2 of the three-game series at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers will send Robert Rohrbaugh (0-0, 1.80 ERA) to face Justin Cassell (2-0, 4.15 ERA).

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