on March 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Going long- Tigers say that’s not the best way to beat South Carolina

CHARLESTON — Clemson shortstop Stan Widmann says the Tigers’ best chance to beat No. 10 South Carolina today and tomorrow, as part of a two-day home-and-home series is to not get into a slugging battle with the high-powered Gamecocks.

But if that’s the case, 19th-ranked Clemson proved again Friday against the College of Charleston that it is more than capable of hanging with the Gamecocks. For the fifth straight game, the Tigers scored at least six runs after J.D Burgess’ two-out, two-run double in the top of the eighth inning lifted Clemson to a 7-6 victory at Patriots Point in Charleston.

“If we get into a slugfest with them, then I think it could be a long day,” Widmann said. “We are going to try and keep it a low scoring game and do our part, and I think we can come out on that one.”

It didn’t look as if the Tigers (5-0) would do their part to enter the USC series undefeated when Charleston scored three-runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. Michael Kohn’s towering homer to left leading off the bottom of the seventh cut Clemson’s advantage to 5-4. The Cougars’ Austin Morgan, who reached on a one-out error, later scored to tie the game at 5-5 on Mike Hentz’s two-out double down the left field line.

Hentz later came around to give Charleston a 6-5 lead through seven.

But in the eighth, Clemson freshman Kyle Parker singled with one out, moved to second on a ground out and eventually stole third. After D.J. Mitchell walked, Burgess doubled to right center scoring Parker and Mitchell for a 7-6 lead. Mitchell’s run was scored thanks a Charleston throwing error.

Alex Martin (1-0) picked up the win for Clemson after retiring the only batter he faced in the seventh. Matt Vaughn struck out three over two scoreless innings of work for his second save. Jesse Simpson (2-1) suffered the loss.

The win now sets the Tigers up for today’s battle with the Gamecocks (3-1) at Sarge Frye Field in Columbia. South Carolina is off to another great start at the plate and is led by first baseman Justin Smoak, who had a strong first weekend when he went 5-for-12 at the plate against East Carolina (.417) with a pair of homers and five RBIs. His two home runs against East Carolina moved him up to a tie for seventh on the all-time Gamecock career list. He is seven home runs shy of the school’s record of 48 set by Hank Small from 1972-75.

“You can’t pitch around him,” Clemson catcher Doug Hogan said. “You stick with your pitchers’ strengths and you utilize their strengths to try and get around as many guys as you can. I don’t think you pitch around him or anybody.”

And that’s because the Gamecocks are so good at the plate. In four games, South Carolina has scored 33 runs off 39 hits and have 9 home runs, while hitting .331 as a team.

“They have a veteran offensive team with some good hitters and some dangerous hitters,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “We have to pitch well, play good defense and not give them any extra outs.”

Clemson will counter on the mound with lefty Ryan Hinson, who is 1-0 already this season following a 12-5 win against Mercer last weekend. In that game, he pitched five innings with four strikeouts and four walks.

“He’s good,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “Hinson is a quality pitcher. He’s been in their rotation. He and (Mike) Cisco locked up over here last year at a low-scoring affair.

“He’s a quality pitcher in the ACC and in the Southeast. He’s good. We’re going to have difficulty with him, not so much because he throws hard, but just because he’s a quality pitcher. It’s a challenge, and I hope that they have trouble against Cisco as well.”

Cisco is coming off a win against East Carolina where he had a 1.80 ERA in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked just one.

Against the College of Charleston, the Tigers got home runs from Wilson Boyd, Hogan and Ben Paulsen to bring their home run total to 13 for the young season.

“We still have to stick with our game plan and I know we haven’t shown it this past week or so, but we are not a home run hitting team,” Hogan said. “That’s not our game. Our game is to execute in different situations and move guys around the bases. We just have to stick to our original game plan and it has proven through Coach Leggett’s career that works so we are going to stick with it.”