Andy D'Alessio's RBI single in the ninth inning capped Clemson's come-from-behind 3-2 win over Virginia Saturday in front of 5,595 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Cavaliers took a 2-1 lead with two runs in the top of the ninth, but Clemson singled four times in the bottom of the ninth after totaling only three hits through eight innings to come away with the win. It was the Tigers first one-run victory since March 22, when the Tigers won 1-0 at Old Dominion. Clemson, who took a 2-0 series lead, improved to 21-13 overall and 11-3 in the ACC. Virginia fell to 24-13 overall, 5-10 in ACC play.
Virginia's ninth-inning comeback spoiled righthander Josh Cribb's career-long outing. The junior from Lake View, SC pitched 8.0 innings, allowing just six hits, two runs, and one walk with three strikeouts. Reliever Jeff Hahn (2-1) retired the only the only batter he faced in the ninth inning and earned the win. Cavalier starter Mike Ballard also pitched brilliantly, but did not factor in the decision. He faced the minimum in his first seven innings, but could not get an out in the eighth. In 7.0 innings pitched, he allowed just three hits, one run, and one walk while striking out four. Casey Lambert (1-2) allowed two runs on four hits and suffered the loss.
After both team could not even advance a runner past second base in the first seven innings, catcher Ryan Hudson legged out a one-out, infield single to shortstop in the top of the eighth inning. Then on a 2-0 pitched to Mike Campagna, Ryan Hudson broke for second on a hit-and-run. Campagna missed the pitch, however catcher Adrian Casanova's throw to second was high, allowing Hudson to reach second on the steal. Campagna hit a ball to deep right field, but Travis Storrer flagged the ball down for out #2. Kyle Werman followed with a sharply-hit grounder over the first-base bag, but Andy D'Alessio made a diving stop and threw to Cribb for the inning-ending out at first base.
After brining only 21 batters to the plate in the first seven innings, the Tigers finally got to Ballard in the bottom of the eighth inining. Tyler Colvin led off with a hard-hit double past first-baseman Sean Doolittle. Kris Harvey was intentionally walked, and in came Doolittle in relief of Ballard. Storrer was able to lay down a sacrifice bunt on a 1-2 breaking pitch, moving both runners up a base. Doolittle threw two balls to D'Alessio, then the Cavaliers decided to put him on base on an intentional walk. Stan Widmann, who in his last at-bat lined out right back to the pitcher, walked on four pitches after balls three and four just missed the strikezone, bringing home Colvin from third to give Clemson a 1-0 lead. Pinch-hitter Ben Hall reached on a fielder's choice, but Harvey was retired at the plate for out #2 on Hall's chopper to third base. Herman Demmink then grounded out to second base to end the inning. It was the first three Tigers left on base all game.
But the Cavaliers would not go quietly. Tim Henry led off the ninth with a single up the middle. Ryan Zimmerman then singled through the left side on a 2-2 pitch, moving Henry to second. Instead of bunting the runners up, Doolittle lined the first pitch he saw to the wall in left field for a double, scoring Henry and advancing Zimmerman to third with no outs. After Daniel Moskos relieved Cribb, Josh Darby gave Virginia the lead when he hit a 1-2 pitch to deep left field, scoring Zimmerman on the sacrifice fly. Doolittle advanced to third on a wild pitch. Tom Hagan followed with a grounder to D'Alessio as Doolittle broke for home. The first baseman threw a strike to home plate to retire Doolittle for out #2. Two batters later, Hudson popped up to the end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Virginia brought in Lambert, who had eight saves in 2005. Brad Chalk led off with an infield single to the shortstop. Taylor Harbin moved Chalk to second on a sacrifice bunt. Colvin then lined the first pitch he saw over Werman at second base. Chalk, who had to wait and see if the liner would be caught, got a late jump, but was still able to score just ahead of the throw from right-fielder Matt Street. Harvey then hit a soft single just over the glove of Campagna at shortstop, as Colvin advanced all the way to third base with one out. Lambert intentionally walked Storrer to load the bases, then D'Alessio hit a well-placed single through the right side to bring home Colvin and win the game for the Tigers.
It was the Tigers' first walkoff hit to win a game in 2005 and 28th under Head Coach Jack Leggett. It was also the first walkoff single by the Tigers against the Cavaliers since May 13, 2001, when Zane Green gave Clemson a 5-4 win thanks to his walkoff single at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Chalk, Colvin, and Harvey all had two hits to lead the Tigers, while D'Alessio's game-winning single was the other hit. Six different Cavaliers had one hit apiece.
The two teams will play game three Sunday at 1:00 PM.
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