Offense Ignites Win Over Hokies

CLEMSON – A couple of weeks ago, the Clemson baseball team was officially mired in a deep slump.

It had lost five of its last seven and the offense and defense was nowhere to be found.

Now, the No. 9 Tigers are officially out of their slump, as the offense exploded for the third straight night as this time it resulted in an 11-4 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Clemson has scored 10 or more runs in three straight games for the first time since it did it against a team called New York Tech in 2001. The last time the Tigers scored that many runs in three straight games against a non-independent team came in 1999.

"We're swinging the bat a little bit better," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We're a little bit patient. At one point, we had only three hits, but we had 13 base runners."

Again, the competition isn't the best, or even in the middle of the pack, but there is a marked difference when the Tiger hitters step into the batter's box. It's as if they know they're going to get a hit.

And all of this has coincided with the new batting lineup Leggett presented Wednesday night, which is when the scoring barrage began.

"We've got about five or six guys that are feeling confident," Leggett said. "We're just going to stick with it and see what happens."

Maybe the hottest player for Clemson (32-13, 14-6 ACC) is newly appointed third baseman Marquez Smith, who has spent most of the year as the designated hitter.

Since being moved to third base and having first baseman Andy D'Alessio dropped from fifth in the order to hitting behind him in the seventh spot, Smith has exploded.

Smith, a junior, hit two home runs Wednesday, had two hits Friday, and added two more homers Saturday, a two-run shot fourth and three-run homer in the seventh.

"I knew one day sometime this season I'd come around," Smith said. "It's always going to help having D'Alessio and one of the best hitters in the country hitting behind you."

Though not sharp, pitcher Jason Berken picked up the win to improve to 6-3. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings of work.

P.J. Zocchi and Steve Richard combined to allow only three hits, while striking out five over the final four innings. Top Stories