"We're at home," said senior and designated hitter Herman Demmink. "Up until today, I couldn't have told you what the difference is between playing at home and on the road. It's the fans."
There's a lot of truth behind that statement, especially for the Tigers, who have now won an amazing 20 of their last 21 postseason games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
In fact, during its NCAA Tournament streak of 20 consecutive appearances, Clemson is 26-25 on the road in the first two rounds and an astounding 31-5 at home.
The last home loss came to Arkansas in 2002 in the opening game of the best-of-three Super Regional.
The team appears poised to not let what happened last year at Baylor happen again, when the Tigers won the first game and lost the next two.
"I think the difference is we have a lot more confidence," said Clemson second baseman Tyler Harbin. "Coming off that win last year, we knew we were still at Baylor and that we were in for a battle.
"The confidence we have right now is unbelievable because we're playing at home. We've played well at home all year."
The two previous times Clemson has hosted a Super Regional, it's advanced to Omaha.
Up until 1:20 p.m., Clemson coach Jack Leggett was unsure whether sophomore shortstop Stan Widmann was going to be able to play. But after he took some infield and swung the bat, Widmann told Leggett he could play.
"The more he kept moving, the better he kept feeling," Leggett said. "We would have been OK if we would have had to put Taylor at short and Demmink at second."
Widmann finished the day 1-for-4.
Berken Still Winless
Tigers starting pitcher Jason Berken once again was the recipient of some bad luck. After only pitching an inning last Friday before the game was suspended due to rain, he only lasted an inning this time.
In the top of the second, Oral Roberts' Kelly Minissale hit a hopper to Clemson first baseman Andy D'Alessio, who promptly bobbled it. So instead of being able to handle the out his own self, Berken raced over from the mound to field his throw and step on first.
However, the throw was bad and it arrived right at the same time Minissale was getting to first. The poor throw caused Berken to lose his balance and fall and Minissale wound up kicking him in the face with the lower part of his leg.
Berken sustained a bloody nose, but went back to pitch after a few minutes of collecting his wits.
He walked the next batter and eventually gave up a three-run homer, which caused Leggett to pull him from the game. There's no telling if the play at first base caused Berken to falter.
"He caught a tough break," Leggett said. "I probably left him in one pitch too many."
Berken now has four career postseason starts and no wins. In fact, he is 0-0 with an 8.93 ERA.
Clemson is now 14-1 with reserve freshman D.J. Mitchell starting in right field. … Demmink hit a leadoff home run for the second consecutive game and the fifth time in his career. The Tigers are 5-0 in those games. …
Colvin's walk-off homer was the first by a Clemson player in an NCAA Tournament game since May 20, 1977, when Bill Foley hit a solo shot to beat Mississippi. It was also the first walk-off grand slam in Tigers history. …
Clemson did not have a walk-off hit in the first 50 games this season and now has had three in the last 15 games. … Colvin extended his hitting streak to 24 games, which ties him for fourth in school history with Chuck Baldwin, who did it in 1987. Colvin has 10 to go to reach Khalil Greene, who has 34 and is in third place. …
Tigers centerfielder Brad Chalk extended his hitting streak to 12 games. … Clemson catcher Adrian Casanova was 0-for-16, one for his last 24 and four for his last 40 before getting a single to right in the sixth.
Super Regional Insider News & Notes
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