Clark Strikes Again

CLEMSON – Sean Clark has done it again. One week after coming from nowhere to lead Clemson to the ACC Championship, he was even more impressive against UNC Asheville. And the person least surprised by Clark's success is Tigers assistant coach Tom Riginos.

Clark was masterful, throwing only 106 pitches over eight innings, while allowing just three hits and no runs in the No. 1 seed Tigers' 3-0 victory over the No. 4 Bulldogs (28-34) Saturday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

His curveball was sharp, as was his changeup. Clark kept UNC Asheville hitters confused nearly all game. The Bulldogs didn't get their first hit until the sixth inning. Their only other hit came in the ninth.

In his only two starts in his short career at Clemson (48-14), Clark has tossed 16 innings, allowed only one run and has a win in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. "Today, I threw the changeup more," Clark said. "I think I threw it more than I had last weekend and in the past. Some of the lefties were looking fastball and the changeup kept them off balance. The curveball was also working well, so I was able to keep them guessing."

Riginos, Clemson's outfield and hitting coach, thought Clark's last two performances would be the norm rather than the exception.

"This is what I saw when I saw him (at junior college) in Arizona," Riginos said. "This is the Sean Clark that I thought we'd have all along."

After undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder in 2004, Clark (2-0) disappeared for nearly a year and a half until the ACC Tournament. He had pitched a few innings prior to last week, but wasn't sharp in any of them.

But a few weeks ago, Riginios noticed Clark's old form returning, while Tigers coach Jack Leggett and assistant Kevin O'Sullivan were on a recruiting visit.

"I was running practice and we were having an intersquad scrimmage when I noticed Clark looking good," Riginios said. "I called Jack and Sully and said, ‘I think he's back. I really think he's back.' "

Apparently, he is.

"It was sort of an outstanding effort by him," Leggett said. "I guess we're beginning to expect that."

Clemson's offense was provided by another unlikely source as shortstop Stan Widmann hit a two-run homer in the second inning. It was Widmann's first home run of the season.

"It felt great!" he said. "I was ahead in the count, so I was looking away. That's the scouting report that we had, so I just took a swing."

Bulldogs pitcher Chris Nigro (5-11) sustained the tough loss after pitching a complete game.

Nonetheless, UNC Asheville will play No. 3 Mississippi State (35-22) at 3 p.m.

Clemson will battle with No. 2 Elon (45-16) at 7 p.m.

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