Tigers Pound Pack

CLEMSON – While the weather has gotten colder, the bat of Clemson first baseman Andy D'Alessio has no doubt gotten hotter. Entering Friday night's three-game showdown with N.C. State, the junior had been the only power source for the Tigers in the past week.

He continued that trend against the Wolfpack as he cracked a one-out grand slam in the bottom of the first inning that sent Clemson well on its way to a 9-5 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium and give the No. 10 Tigers (14-6, 1-3 ACC) their first conference win of the season.

D'Alessio's shot was drilled just barely to the left of the 400-foot mark in straightaway center field. It was his third home run in as many games and his fifth of the season.

His blast led to five first-inning runs, which No. 20 N.C. State (21-6, 5-2 ACC) was never able to overcome.

"Whatever he's eating, he needs to keep eating it," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.

In all seriousness, D'Alessio has made minor adjustments at the plate, which may account for his recent surge in power.

He's squared his feet up in the box and is standing more on the balls of his feet rather than being somewhat flatfooted.

But what may be the biggest difference is his attitude at the plate.

"He's just more confident right now," Leggett said. "He's pulling the trigger when he has to. He's more aggressive and not laying off pitches."

On this night, however, he wasn't the only one yielding a big stick. The team smacked 11 hits in the first two innings, which led to nine runs.

"It just wasn't my swing, it was the whole team," D'Alessio said. "Then we came back in the second and got four more runs."

Other than D'Alessio, third baseman Herman Demmink, second baseman Taylor Harbin and shortstop Stand Widmann each had two hits.

"We needed something positive offensively," Leggett said. "We needed to crack the bats a little bit."

All the runs helped Clemson starting pitcher Josh Cribb (5-0) relax, allowing him to go right after the hitter and not nibble on the edges of the plate.

"It takes a lot of pressure off," he said of the nine runs. "I think we learned from last weekend that you don't want to come out in the first game and be sluggish."

Also for the third straight night, Clemson got solid relief pitching. This time it came in the form of red-shirt freshman Alex Martin, who didn't allow a run or a hit in three innings of work.

Jason Berken (2-2, 2.82 ERA) will take to the mound Saturday night for the Tigers, while lefty Eric Surkamp (2-0, 3.28 ERA) goes for N.C. State. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.

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