The star senior, who was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals with a supplemental first-round pick, allowed just one run on five hits, while striking out 10 in a 137-pitch performance.
McCormick's fastball routinely hit the high 90s, while his curve ball and slider had sharp movement. It was enough to keep the Tigers off balance all day and help lead Baylor to the 7-1 victory in Game 2 of the Waco Super Regional Sunday afternoon in front of 4,424 at Baylor Ballpark to even the best-of-three series at a game apiece.
"He threw all of his pitches for strikes," Clemson third baseman Herman Demmink said. "His fastball was definitely very firm and he threw not only a curveball, but a slider. We were seeing two different types of movement. One was staying a little bit more on the same plane and one had some good depth.
"Most of the at-bats, he started me as well as some other players with different pitches on the first pitch at each at-bat. We weren't necessarily prepared for what was coming."
As of early Sunday night, the time for Game 3 is at 1 p.m. on ESPN. Baylor (43-22) will be the home team because it won the coin toss Saturday before Game 1.
And McCormick (8-3) is the reason there will be a game on Monday. By the middle of the game, Clemson hitters were just shaking their head in bewilderment.
"(Kris) Harvey was swinging at a lot of fastballs up and get frustrated," McCormick said. "I hung (a curveball) and he got a hit. But for the most part, I was just throwing a breaking ball out on the outer half and he was swinging away. I could tell he was frustrated a little bit."
Clemson (43-22) knew there was a great chance McCormick would be on his game. But they also knew he had shown a tendency to be wild at times. They were just waiting to see which McCormick was going to take the mound.
"We knew he had the ability to do what he did today," Demmink said. "We didn't necessarily know which Mark McCormick we were going to see. I tip my hat to him. He seemed to do everything right. When he needed a big pitch, he reached back and got a (strikeout). …
"It was one of those things today, whatever he wanted to do, Mark McCormick did."
Bears coach Steve Smith agreed with Demmink's assessment of McCormick.
"The Baylor players didn't know which (McCormick) they were going to get either," he said. "But at no time in the game did I feel like Mark got out of rhythm or out of sync. They were a good type of team for him to throw against because they don't like to take pitches. They like to swing the bat. That's the kind of team you want to face him. That matchup was good for us."
While McCormick has taken some heat from the local fans and media for his inconsistency at time, Smith wasn't the least bit surprised by his performance.
"I've got about seven or eight weeks worth of tapes in there that are just like what he did today," Smith said. "I think the St. Louis Cardinals got the absolute steal of the draft. With anybody like Mark who is as gifted as he is, the expectations are incredibly high and if he doesn't got out every single time and totally dominate, then they've got to find a way to explain it."
While McCormick was lights out and was able to get out of a few jams by inducing the Tigers into double plays, Clemson starter Josh Cribb (8-5) found the going tough, especially after two outs were already in the books.
The first five runs scored by the Bears all came with two outs, and with the light-hitting bottom of the lineup doing most of the damage.
After the first two batters got out to begin the second inning, Kevin Russo singled to right field with two strikes on him. He was followed by Seth Fortenberry, who entered the game hitting .171 and promptly smoked a double down the right field line to score Russo from first to make it 1-0.
Jeff Mandel, hitting .176, followed with a single up the middle to score Fortenberry and give the Bears an insurmountable 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Mandel hit a two-out, wind-aided, solo home run over the wall in left-center field to make it 3-1. Baylor added two more runs each in the fifth and the sixth innings to put it out of reach.
"All their runs scoring with two outs, that's just something you've got to bear down on," Cribb said. "I was throwing the ball outside and they were taking it the other way. And pitches that I left up in the zone, they were hitting."
The Clemson baseball team will have to wait one more day to see if their season-long quest of making it to the College World Series will come true.
"There might be a little bit of anxiety just because we know we are that close," Demmink said. "However, nine innings is still a long ways away, especially with a team like Baylor in front of us."
Lefthander Robert Rohrbaugh (8-2, 4.03 ERA), who earned the save in Game 1, will start for Clemson. The Bears will start a leftie as well in Cory VanAllen (7-4, 4.00 ERA).
"We've got to flush this one out of system. It's over with," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "They did a good job of flushing it out of their system yesterday and they played well today, and we've come and do the same kind of thing. That's all there is to it."
McCormick Shuts Down Clemson
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