Mistake Dooms Tigers

CLEMSON – Just when it seemed the Clemson baseball team was ready to put together a solid winning streak heading into the weekend, all that could go wrong did as the Tigers got swept by Georgia. <br>

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Tuesday night, the pitching of the Tigers uncharacteristically let the team down. Wednesday night, the defense made a rare mistake and the offense once again disappeared as the Bulldogs took the 4-1 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The win by the Bulldogs breaks an 11-losing streak at Clemson and is the first victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium since 1993. It is also the first win against a Jack Leggett coached team at Clemson.

"Whatever mistake we make, we seem to be paying for it, whether it be one defensive mistake or a pitch in the wrong situation or an at-bat that's not a good at-bat," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "It just seems to be that we get ourselves in a patter where we make a mistake and we haven't been able to overcome it."

The big miscue defensively came with one out in the top of the fourth inning when Tigers starting pitcher Stephen Faris fielded a groundball and instead of tossing it underhanded to first baseman Andy D'Alessio, he threw it overhanded and it sailed well over D'Allessio's head, which allowed a runner to score from second.

Georgia (17-12) went on to score two more unearned runs in the inning, which gave the Bulldogs a 4-0 advantage.

That was nearly the only thing Faris (2-1) did wrong as he threw a complete game and allowed just five hits and one earned run. It was the first complete game tossed by a Clemson pitcher since Robert Rohrbaugh did it last year against Duke.

"We made one mistake and it was our best fielding pitcher," Leggett said. "It surprised me and I know it surprised him. He should have tossed the ball underhanded. It's too bad because he pitched well enough and he paid the price for it."

And while 4-0 is not a big score to have to overcome, it was on this night as Georgia left-handed starting pitcher Mickey Westphal kept the bats of the Tigers silent. Westphal (2-0) held Clemson (15-13) to just four hits over seven innings, which is the most by a Bulldogs starter this season.

"He was a pretty average lefthander; 80-82 (miles per hour); soft curveball … see it everyday in practice," D'Allessio said. "We see it everyday in practice. When we see pitching like that, we tend to do too much with the ball. We just didn't make the adjustments we needed to."

It appeared that Clemson was about to gets some of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning when Kris Harvey smoked a pitch to left field that looked like it was going to be a two-run homer.

But Bulldogs left fielder Jonathan Wyatt reached over the fence and pulled it back in for an out and to kill the rally.

"I can't believe he caught that ball. Are you kidding me?" Harvey said. "That would have been big and it would have put us down two runs in the fourth inning. It's a little different when you're playing for two instead of playing for four."

Clemson put together another rally in the bottom of the ninth, scoring one run and having the tying run at the plate in D'Alessio, but after fouling five pitches, he ultimately struck out to end the game.

"We've got to go out there and keep plugging away," D'Alessio said. "We've got to sweep Duke (this weekend) and as long as we keep winning our weekend games here at home, we'll be there in the end."

And while the three-game series against Duke might be just what the doctor ordered to get the Tigers back on the winning track, Leggett said don't take it for granted that it will happen.

"We're not a team that can say, ‘We've got three wins in the bag or we've got this and that.' " he said. "We've got to throw one game at a time."

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