The loss snapped the Tigers' six-game winning streak, as Clemson fell to 14-5 overall, while Western Carolina improved to 14-7. The two teams will play again on Wednesday, March 28 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Starter Drew Saberhagen (2-1), son of former Major League righthander Bret Saberhagen, earned the win. The lefthander allowed three runs on three hits in 6.0 innings pitched. Greg Holland pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to record his fourth save of the year. Tiger starter David Kopp (2-2) suffered the loss, as he allowed four runs on four hits in 5.1 innings pitched.
After both teams were hitless in the first two innings, Brad Chalk laced a two-out single down the left-field line in the third inning. The hit extended his hitting streak to 11 games and upped his streak of reaching base via a hit or walk to 46 contests dating back to 2006. Sophomore D.J. Mitchell followed with an opposite-field, two-run homer to right field to put the Tigers up 2-0. It was the Rural Hall, NC native's first career home run.
After Kopp retired the first 12 batters of the game, Blake Murphy led off the fifth inning with a single through the left side. John Ingram's groundout advanced Murphy to second base and Kenny Smith followed with a line-drive single to center to plate Murphy.
For the second time in the game, Clemson scored after the first two batters of an inning were retired. Taylor reached on a two-out walk in the sixth inning, stole second, and scored on Andy D'Alessio's single through the right side.
Western Carolina responded with five runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. Brent Greer, the #9 batter in the order, led off and reached on a hit-by-pitch. Clemson pitchers had gone 13 consecutive games without hitting a batter. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Andy John singled to left field. After Jonathan Greene walked to load the bases, Murphy hit a single to left field to score two runs and tie the score. Ingram, who spent four seasons in the Tiger program from 2003-06 and is a 2006 Clemson graduate, followed with a bloop single over D'Alessio's head at first base to score Greene and give the Catamounts the lead. Smith then laced a two-run double to right-center off reliever Stephen Clyne, giving Western Carolina a 6-3 lead. Clyne, who allowed two runs in the frame, saw his consecutive-scoreless-inning streak end at 31.1 innings.
Clemson missed a golden opportunity to get back in the game in the seventh inning. Reliever Chris Masters walked three consecutive batters with one out, but Holland closed the door, as Chalk's grounder to third forced the runner at home, and pinch-hitter Wilson Boyd struck out.
Clemson did not have a leadoff batter reach base the entire game, while the Catamounts scored their combined six runs in the only two innings (fifth and sixth) their leadoff batters reached base. Western Carolina made good use of its nine baserunners, all of which came in the fifth and sixth innings, as six of those crossed home plate and only two were stranded on base thanks to going 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Three Tiger pitchers (Kopp, Clyne, Daniel Moskos) combined to set the Catamounts down in order in six of the eight innings in which Western Carolina batted. Meanwhile, the Tigers left seven runners on base and were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Both teams played outstanding defense, as Western Carolina did not commit and error and the Tigers' only error was by Mitchell in right field on a solid throw to the plate that could not be scooped by Hogan. Shortstop Taylor Harbin had 10 assists and a putout as well.
Clemson will travel to College Park, MD to take on Maryland in a three-game series starting Friday at 7:00 PM.
Head Coach Jack Leggett will attempt to increase his career-win total of 999 during Clemson's first ACC road series of the season. Leggett's 900th career victory came in the first game of a doubleheader at Maryland on March 26, 2005.
Tigers Fall to Western Carolina
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