COLUMBIA – Clemson erupted for five runs in the second inning, thanks to a Phil Pohl grand slam, and added three runs over two innings after a 1:37 rain delay to claim an 11-3 victory over Coastal Carolina in the opening game of the NCAA Columbia Regional Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium.
Coastal Carolina (41-18) will play the loser of tonight's game between South Carolina and Manhattan. First pitch is set for Noon and the game will be televised on ESPNU and online at ESPN3.
Clemson (34-26) scored five of its 11 runs by Tigers who had reached by walk or hit by pitch and one who reached on error. Also, to Clemson's credit, the Tigers scored nine of their 11 runs with two outs. Coastal had two chances to get back in the game, loading the bases in the sixth and seventh innings, but had nothing to show for it as the Chants left 12 runners on base.
In the top of the first, Rich Witten nearly brought home Ted Blackman, who walked to start the game, hitting a high fly to shallow right field. Both the right fielder and first baseman had trouble judging the ball, but the right fielder would make a diving catch. In the home half, Clemson did nearly the same thing, but Coastal could not make the play. Richie Shaffer hit a high fly ball to the same spot, which fell between three Chants and he would get a double. Phil Pohl followed with an RBI single to left field for a 1-0 score.
Clemson added five runs in the second, thanks to a heads-up hustle play. Brad Felder had a one-out single and Jason Stolz followed with a walk. After getting a strikeout, Austin Wallace (5-1) got Thomas Brittle to hit a ground ball to the right side for what could have been the third out, but Brittle beat the throw at first. On the play, Felder never stopped running and would score from second. Clemson would then load the bases on a Shaffer walk. Pohl cleared the bases with a grand slam down the left field line that was just inside the foul pole and just above the wall.
Coastal got on the board, scoring twice in the third. Jacob May, who was 2-for-4, had a one-out single and moved to third on Daniel Bowman's 54th career double, moving him to third on the CCU career list. Witten plated May with a sacrifice fly to right-center field. Alex Buccilli followed with an RBI single to center.
The Tigers got one run back in the home half of the third. After Jon McGibbon drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, Stolz lined a double to left-center to drive in McGibbon .
The game was suspended for 1:37 in the middle of the fifth. When the game resumed CCU pitcher Aaron Burke got two quick outs before Spencer Kieboom and Felder had back-to-back singles. Stolz followed with an RBI double down the right field line to make the score 8-2.
The Chants answered back in the sixth. Tucker Frawley was hit by a pitch to start the frame and moved to second on a ground out. Brian Pruett, who was 2-for-4, lined a single to center, scoring Frawley on the play. Coastal would load the bases after a Blackman single and May walk, but Bowman's hard-hit ball to center was tracked down by Brittle to record the third out.
In the home half, Burke hit the first two batters before Jay Baum blooped a one-out single just beyond Pruett's glove at short, bringing home Brittle. Austin Kerr came out of the bullpen to record a strikeout before Kieboom singled to bring home Shaffer and make the score 10-3.
Coastal would loaded the bases again in the seventh as the first three batters walked before Clemson pitcher David Haselden got a strike out, fly out and ground out to escaped unscathed.
Clemson tacked on a run in the eighth to provide the 11-3 final. Shaffer reached on an error, moved to third on Joe Costigan double and scored on Kieboom 's sacrifice fly.
Wallace suffered his first loss of the season. He allowed a season-high three walks, six hits and six runs with one strikeout.