Clemson's Season Comes to an End

WACO, Texas – The entire season came full circle for the Clemson baseball team. The first half of the season, the offense was the Achilles heel of a team that struggled to get barely above .500 at the midway point. Over the last three weeks, it reared its ugly head again.

Since the start of the ACC Tournament three weeks ago, the Tigers have had difficulties scoring runs, not only in bunches but any at all. And in the end, the starting pitching that carried the team all season long could only do so much as they got no run support for basically the entire three-game series in the Waco Super Regional.

Clemson left eight men on base and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, while a light-hitting Baylor batter, who had just four hits in his previous 42 at-bats, cracked a three-run double to lead the Bears to the 6-1 victory Monday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark to win the series 2-1 and advance to the College World Series in Omaha, and bring to an end the improbable run by the Tigers.

It is Baylor's first trip to the College World Series since 1978 and Steve Smith's first time as a head coach.

"They out-pitched our hitting," said Clemson designated hitter Kris Harvey, who supplied the Tigers' only run with a solo home run in the top of the second inning. "They didn't make any mistakes and they held us to one run in both (losses)."

The odd thing about Monday's defeat is that Clemson (43-23) out-hit the Bears (44-22) nine to eight. The problem was that all the hits were accumulated by only four hitters. The chances of winning are cut extremely short when the second, third and fourth hitters in the lineup go 0-for-11.

"We just didn't really hit with men on base," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "We didn't get the leadoff man on base enough. You just have to make the hits count."

Making the situation even stranger was the fact that Baylor starting pitcher Cory VanAllen wasn't exactly a carbon copy of his teammate Mark McCormick, who was completely dominating on Sunday.

VanAllen got hit hard through the first four innings. Even the outs were screamers. The problem was they were hit right at the defenders. VanAllen was definitely on the ropes but the Tigers couldn't give deliver the knockout punch.

After Harvey's 25th homer of the season to lead off the second, Clemson put runners on first and second with two outs, but catcher Adrian Casanova, who finished the season on a 2-for-32 skid, swung at the second pitch and grounded out to VanAllen to end the threat.

It was Harvey that got things started once again as this time he led off the fourth with a single to left. But before Travis Storrer delivered his single to center, Harvey was picked off at first.

Then with two outs, Stan Widmann was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second for Casanova again. And like the previous at-bat, he swung at the first pitch and hit a weak fly to center to end the rally again.

"Cory didn't throw any differently today, I don't think, than he's thrown most of the year," Smith said. "He gives everybody the sense that it could all go to pieces at any time. He makes a lot of really good pitches then he's going to make some mistakes."

While Clemson struggled to find any semblance of an offense, the Bears, who were regarded as anything but a good hitting team, got the clutch hits for the second straight day when they needed to. And just like Sunday, it was one of the least likely individuals to provide the spark.

With one out in the fourth, catcher Josh Ford tied the game at 1-1 with a solo homer of his own to left-center field off Tigers starter Robert Rohrbaugh (8-3). Ried Brees and Zach Dillon each followed with a single to put runners of first and second, before Rohrbaugh walked Mike Pankratz, who entered the game with a .196 average, to load the bases.

That brought up Kevin Sevigny, who was four for his last 42 dating back to May 15. Rohrbaugh loaded the count and after a few foul balls, grooved a fastball down the middle to the .225 hitter. Sevigny promptly hit a double to the wall in left-center field to clear the bases and give the Baylor a 4-1 lead.

"He kept coming at me with a fastball all day; I hadn't really seen an off-speed pitch," Sevigny said. "I was gearing up for a fastball and when he got behind in the count I zoned in for a fastball even more because I knew he had to come at me. And sure enough, he was chipping away and then he finally threw me one enough over the plate where I could make good contract."

Rohrbaugh, who has likely pitched his last game as a Tiger after getting drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Mariners, refused to meet with the media, Clemson baseball sports information director Brian Hennessy said.

After another Bears run in the seventh, Seth Fortenberry, a .170 hitter, hit a solo homer to right-center field to make it 6-1. It was the nail in the proverbial coffin.

"They're all tough," Leggett said. "If you lose out in Omaha, it's awful. If you lose here, it's awful. If you lose last year in the regional, it's awful. There's nothing good about it. There's nothing easy about it."


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