Tigers facing elimination

CLEMSON – Clemson faces an uphill battle in the push to Omaha for the College World Series after Saturday night's 5-4 loss to Alabama.

Backed up against the wall once again, Clemson coach Jack Leggett reminded his team that they've been there plenty of times this season.

"We lost the game in the Regional on Sunday night to kind of put our backs against the wall," he said. "People thought the momentum was with Auburn…nothing this season has been easy."

The toughest task on Saturday night: driving in runs.

The Tigers left 10 runners on base and grounded into inning ending double plays in the fifth and eighth.

"We had plenty of opportunities and unfortunately couldn't get the big hit," Leggett said.

Casey Harman pitched 8-1/3 innings, gave up 10 hits, five runs (one earned), no walks and nine strike outs.

An unfortunate bounce and timely two-out hitting allowed the Crimson Tide to tack on four more in the second.

With the bases loaded in the third, Jon Kelton reached on an error by third baseman John Hinson—Clemson's second of the inning. Andrew Miller followed with a two-run single before Brett Booth plated one more run with a single of his own.

"We had that one tough inning where we gave them an extra out. They capitalized on it," Leggett. "You've got to give them credit for capitalizing on that."

Alabama has capitalized with two outs since the end of the regular season. Of the Crimson Tides' 62 runs scored during post-season play, 32 have come with two outs.

Harman, who pitched a complete game in his previous outing against Auburn, was in command after the rocky third inning.

"It's the time of the year where you've got to gear up," he said. "It's just being more aggressive. That's been my main thing the past couple of games—just going after them and not really giving in to a power hitting team that puts up a lot of runs."

Down 5-0 in the third, Clemson battled back to tack on three runs, thanks to an RBI single from Mike Freeman, Jeff Schaus' sacrifice fly and a Brad Miller RBI single.

In the sixth, Leggett pushed the right button in and pinch hit Chris Epps for Spencer Kieboom. Epps delivered with a triple down the first baseline to score Wilson Boyd and bring the score to 5-4.

An inning later, the Tigers left the bases loaded, squandering one final push to tie or take the lead.

Alabama third baseman Jake Smith, who led off the second with a solo homerun, came on to pitch in the eighth and ninth. He allowed just one hit and struck out Shaus and Kyle Parker.

Schaus, who was called out looking, was thrown out for arguing the third strike call by home plate umpire Dan Mascorro.

"We just have to collect ourselves and be ready to play tomorrow," Leggett said.

Clemson and Alabama play again Sunday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2. Leggett announced Scott Weismann as the starter.


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