Behind four runs in the first inning and effective relief pitching, No. 14 Clemson edged N.C. State 5-4 in front of 1,149 fans at Doak Field on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers, who swept the series 3-0, improved to 39-17 overall and 19-11 in the ACC. N.C. State ended its season with a 25-31 overall record and 10-20 ACC mark.
The Tigers earned their first and only ACC sweep of 2009. In all,
Clemson won seven of its 10 conference series, as the Tigers had a
1-2 record in each of their three losing series. Clemson's 19 league
wins tied for the most by an ACC team in 2009 as well.
The Tigers finished the regular season by winning each of their last
five games, seven of their last eight games, 11 of their last 13
games, and 14 of their last 17 games. Clemson finished in third
place in the overall ACC standings and will carry a #3 seed into the
Tiger reliever Clinton McKinney (4-0) earned the win, as he pitched
1.2 perfect innings with a strikeout. Tomas Cruz retired the only
batter he faced to record his fourth save of the season. Six Tiger
hurlers combined to hold N.C. State to just six hits.
Wolfpack starter Jake Buchanan (2-6) suffered the loss, as he yielded
five runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Cory Mazzoni pitched
2.2 perfect innings in relief as well.
The Tigers grabbed the game's first lead for the 11th game in a row
when Chris Epps hit the first pitch of the contest over the fence in
left field for an opposite-field home run, his second long ball of
the season. After Mike Freeman followed with a walk and Jeff Schaus
lined out to right, Ben Paulsen reached on an infield single. Two
batters later, Wilson Boyd belted a two-out double to left-center to
score Freeman and Paulsen. John Nester then grounded a single
through the left side to score Boyd, giving Clemson a 4-0 lead.
The Wolfpack responded in the bottom of the first inning when Drew
Poulk lined a solo homer to left field, his ninth long ball of the season.
In the fourth inning, Poulk led off with a walk and Andrew Ciencin
followed with a line-drive single to left field. After Harold
Riggins walked to load the bases with no outs, Cameron Conner lofted
a sacrifice fly to left-center to score Poulk as Ciencin and Riggins
also moved up a base. McKinney entered the game in relief and had
Riggins picked off second base, but shortstop Brad Miller dropped the
ball on what would have been out #2 as Ciencin scored from third when
the ball went into centerfield. But McKinney retired the next two
batters to keep Clemson ahead 4-3.
Clemson doubled its lead in the seventh inning. Nester led off with
a double to right-center and went to third on Miller's
groundout. Nester then scored on a wild pitch on what proved to be
the eventual deciding run.
The Wolfpack came right back and cut Clemson's lead in half in the
bottom of the seventh inning. Chris Schaeffer drew a two-out walk
and went to third on Dallas Poulk's single to
right-center. Schaeffer scored on a wild pitch, then Kyle Wilson and
Devon Cartwright both walked to load the bases. But Wade Moore
grounded out to first to keep Clemson ahead 5-4.
In the eighth inning, Ciencin led off with a line-drive single to
left field and went to second on Riggins' sacrifice bunt. After
Pratt Maynard struck out for out #2, Russell Wilson hit a slow
chopper to short. Miller made the barehanded pickup and threw to
first to narrowly retire Wilson for the inning-ending out.
In the ninth inning, Dallas Poulk hit a one-out single up the
middle. Boyd made a nice running catch in left-center on a ball hit
by Kyle Wilson for out #2, then the Tigers called on Cruz to enter
the game on the mound. Cruz struck out Cartwright on a 1-2 breaking
ball to end the game.
Boyd led Clemson's nine-hit attack by going 2-for-4 with two doubles,
two RBIs, and a run. Nester went 2-for3 with a double and run, while
Paulsen added two hits and a run. Stolz also extend his hitting
streak to 10 games, tied for the longest by a Tiger in 2009, with his
Ciencin had a team-high two hits for N.C. State, who had six hits in the game.
In the series, the Tigers outscored N.C. State 29-17 and outhit the
Wolfpack .342 to .283. Clemson also scored 15 of its 29 runs in the
first inning. Boyd went 6-for-12 (.500) with three doubles and five
RBIs, while Stolz went 5-for-10 (.500) in the series.
Clemson will remain in the area to play in the ACC Tournament at
Durham (NC) Bulls Athletic Park next week. The round-robin tourney
will begin on Wednesday. The Tigers' first game of the tournament
will either be on Wednesday or Thursday. Seedings, game dates, and
game times will be announced by the league office on Saturday night.
Tigers sweep N.C. State
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