MYRTLE BEACH – Brad Chalk appears to be back to his old self, which is a great thing for the Clemson baseball team, which needs all the offensive production it can get.
Chalk missed 15 straight games and 19 overall with a stress fracture in his lower back. And during those games, the Tigers were in disarray at the top of the lineup. They tried everything and nearly everyone, but nothing seemed to be as effective as Chalk.
And his proved his worth once again by getting the game's biggest hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to score two runs and give the No. 2-seeded Tigers the 3-2 victory over No. 3-seed St. John's in the Myrtle Beach Regional in the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon at Coastal Federal Field.
Clemson now advances to the winner's bracket championship, where it will play the winner between No. 1-seed Coastal Carolina and No. 4-seed Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday at 4 p.m.
After sitting so long on the bench, it took some adjusting for Chalk to get back to his old ways. Last week in his first games back since the injury, the centerfielder went 2-for-12.
Against St. John's, he went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
"I'm seeing the ball better and I feel more comfortable at the plate," Chalk said.
The Tigers (39-21) scored two runs in that last inning after catcher Doug Hogan stroked a one-out triple down the right field corner and scored one batter later on a wild pitch to tie things at 2-2.
Then with two outs and runners on first and second, Chalk hit a Colin Lynch (1-2) fastball deep in the hole to the left side of the infield and saw it skip off the glove of shortstop Jeff Grantham, which slowed the ball's roll into leftfield.
The slowness of the ball into left was just enough to allow Boyd to score from second, just ahead of the tag from catcher Brendon Monaghan for the game winner.
"It was just another epic battle we've been in for the last few months," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "We know how to respond. …
"There wasn't any hesitation because I knew he would have been out (at home). It just kicked up at the right time. I knew it was going to be close, but I knew it was time to end this thing."
St. John's (40-18) took the lead in the top of the ninth when former South Carolina player Ryan Mahoney drew a walk with two outs. Grantham then singled him to third before he scored on an infield hit by Brian Kemp to give the Red Storm a 2-1 lead.
And with the way Clemson's offense has been all year, it looked as though that score would hold up.
However, the Tigers have also been as equally resilient.
"It's not going to be easy," Leggett said. "We've just been grinding it out. It is a character builder every time we're out on the field. I tell my team that if you have one quality, you have to have toughness and this team has toughness."
Despite giving the Red Storm (40-18) the lead in the top of the ninth, Alan Farina picked up the win in one inning of relief to improve to 6-3 on the season.
The two starting pitchers were special, with Clemson's Daniel Moskos allowing just one run over eight innings and St. John's Scott Barnes allowing just one run over seven and two-thirds.
David Kopp (6-2) will get the start Saturday for the Tigers, who are attempting to reach their third straight Super Regional.
"We're going to have to scrap in every ballgame," Leggett said. "We're just piecing things together as best we can."
Tigers Rally in 9th
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