The Tigers, who were 15-13 at the midway point, have put together a second half surge that very few teams in the nation have equaled. All the proof one needs to see just how good Clemson has been down the stretch is to look at the results of its first two games against fourth-ranked Miami.
For the second straight night, the bats of the No. 24 Tigers lit up Miami pitching, while at the same time their pitching completely shut down the Hurricanes offense and Clemson went on to the 9-2 victory Friday night at a wet Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The Tigers improve to 36-19 overall and more importantly 20-9 in the ACC, which at the moment puts them in sole possession of second place in the standings. Clemson moves a half game ahead of the Hurricanes (38-14, 19-9-1 ACC) as well as Florida State, which entered the night tied with the Tigers, but had its game against N.C. State stopped due to rain.
Georgia Tech clinched first place with Miami's loss.
"I always thought from the beginning of the season we had a chance to be a good team," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We just needed to get some confidence and some rhythm going."
Taking the first two games makes very likely Clemson will host an NCAA regional. But Leggett isn't taking anything for granted.
"I guess this just puts us in really good position," he said. "For one, I think we've been playing very well lately … and I think we've gone on a great run the second half of the season. It's out of our control. We've just got to control what we can and that's keep on playing well and keep on playing tough and let the chips fall where they might. But our kids deserve it, I think. But we'll have to see what happens."
Immediately following the game while Clemson designated hitter Kris Harvey was being interviewed on television, fans in the crowd started chanting "One more year! One more year!" And who could blame them after witnessing the junior hit his 20th and 21st home runs of the season and finished with three RBIs.
Harvey becomes just the seventh player in school history to hit at least 20 homers in a season.
"It's all confidence," he said. "Right now we're going to the plate with as much confidence as we've had all year. Even when we're down in the count, we're still hitting the ball hard. It's a good feeling."
On the opposite side of things, Clemson's pitching the first two games has been every bit as good as the hitting. This time it was starter Josh Cribb (6-4) that shut down the Hurricanes.
Cribb went seven strong innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, while striking out nine and walking just one.
"It was one of the big games and coming into the weekend we wanted to sweep," Cribb said. "(Stephen) Faris came out pitched a great game for us last night and you got to be able to take that second game. … I got in a great rhythm after that first inning."
After Cribb allowed a run in the first, the Tigers came back and even things up in the bottom half of the inning, before taking the lead in the second with a run. They added three more in the third to take a 5-1 lead to all be secure the win, especially with the way Cribb was pitching.
Now, Clemson goes for the sweep with a 1 p.m. game Saturday. Robert Rohrbaugh (6-2, 4.83 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Clemson. Miami is still to be determined.
Tigers Pound Miami ... Again
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