Staying Alive

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's no secret that Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett is one of the more intense coaches around. On a few different occasions this year, he's ripped into the team with hell and fury. But following his team's embarrassing loss in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, Leggett took a different approach.

He met with the team and had a cool and calm talk with them about being relaxed and playing the way they had during their nine-game winning streak to end the season. There wasn't any yelling. It was a motivational speech.

"It wasn't like he got down on us, it wasn't like some of the conversations we may have had earlier in the year when we weren't playing so well," said Clemson third baseman Herman Demmink. "It was more to let us know he's still behind us, he recognizes the fact that we can come back and we have a chance to win it."

And it worked to perfection as the No. 2-seed Tigers came out and right from the top of the first inning totally dominated No. 3-seed Miami to get a 9-1 victory Thursday afternoon in a loser's bracket Thursday at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

"Our goal right now is to just work our way back into the tournament," Leggett said. "We didn't want to pack up at the hotel and jump on a bus and go home. That would have been a bad feeling."

For the fourth time in a week, Clemson (38-20) shut down the vaunted hitting attack of the Hurricanes (38-18-1). This time it was starting pitcher Josh Cribb that did it.

Cribb (7-4) pitched a masterful six-hit, one-run, complete game. And the two hits he gave up in the ninth inning were infield singles. He also struck out eight and had no walks.

"I thought Josh was outstanding," Leggett said. "Maybe the best game I've seen him pitch."

Tyler Colvin slides safely into second with a seventh-inning double as Miami's Walter Diaz cannot handle the throw.
Cribb threw mostly fastballs, but he was hitting his spots perfectly and would throw in some off-speed pitches to keep the Miami hitters off balance. He could throw any pitch he wanted regardless of the count.

"You have to be able to come through and make big pitches when you have to and I think that's what I did today," he said. "I came out and made some big pitches when I had to. … One of the main things you want to do is get into a rhythm as a pitcher. …

"You get a little more motivated in games like today. You lose and you go home. You've got to come out with your "A" game. If you don't, you'll lose and go home. I think with me coming out and pitching the way I did and having the offense and defense play behind me, I think it kind of gives us a little bit more momentum coming into tomorrow's game."

Where the offense couldn't get that big hit against Virginia on Wednesday, it more than made up for it against the Hurricanes.

Demmink stroked a huge two-out single to left to score two runs in the bottom of the second to push the Clemson lead to 4-0. Then in the fourth, shortstop Stan Widman smoked a two-run homer to left to make it 6-0.

The Tigers added another run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to put it totally out of reach and ensure Miami's first six-game losing streak since 1966.

Clemson will now play Friday at 4 p.m. against the loser of Thursday's N.C. State-Virginia game. Robert Rohrbaugh (6-2, 4.70 ERA) will get the start for the Tigers. Top Stories