May 21, 1998
CLEMSON, SC–Matt White pitched his first complete game of the season and first baseman Jason Harris knocked in five runs, leading Clemson to a 12-3 victory over The Citadel in the first round of the NCAA East Regional at Clemson’s Tiger Field.
It was the eighth straight year that Clemson had won the opening round. the Tiger improved to 43-14 with the victory, while The Citadel fell to 36-23.
Clemson will meet South Alabama on Friday evening at Tiger Field in the second round at 7:00 PM. Earlier in the day, South Alabama, the number-four seed, defeated #3 seed Virginia Commonwealth, 2-1. Also, top seed Southern California erased a 5-1 deficit early to defeat sixth-seed Fordham 10-6.
Friday’s action will begin at 11:00 AM with The Citadel meeting Fordham in a loser’s bracket game. At 3:00 PM Southern Cal will meet VCU. The Clemson vs. South Alabama game is the only game on Friday featuring teams with perfect records.
Clemson got off to a good start against The Citadel. Patrick Boyd singled up the middle with one out in the first. One out later, Harris socked his ninth home run of the year over the screen in centerfield. The homer fired up the Tigers, who had lost seven of their last nine games entering the tournament, mainly due to a lack of big hits. Clemson left only seven runners on base on Thursday.
The Tigers added three more runs off The Citadel starter and loser Brian Rogers, who fell to 7-6. Doug Roper led off the third with a walk, went to second on a sacrifice and to third when Patrick Boyd struck out the ball got away from the Citadel catcher, a play that was scored a wild pitch.
Matt Padgett then singled in Roper on a hit and run play to make it 3-0. Harris followed with his second big hit in three innings, a hit and run single to left. Kurt Bultmann’s sacrifice fly made the count 5-0 after three innings.
Clemson scored one in the fourth on a double by Brian Ellis and a single by Padgett.
The Citadel scored two runs in the fifth with the big hit a two-run single by Terrence Smalls, The Citadel’s fine shortstop, who went to high school with Clemson basketball center Harold Jamison. The Citadel added a run in the sixth on a double by Kevin Durham, bringing the Bulldogs to within 6-3.
Clemson then took control of the game with a six-spot in the bottom of the sixth. Again Roper led off the inning with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice by Ellis. After a walk to Patrick Boyd and a strokeout by Matt Padgett, Harris again delivered a two-out two run single for an 8-3 Clemson lead. The Tigers were not finished however, as Kurt Bultmann had an RBI single, Justin Singleton doubled in two runs and Casey Stone had a two run triple.
White did not allow another run. The junior elevated his record to 5-2 by allowing just sevne hits and three runs, two earned in going the distance. He struck out seven and walked three. He had not pitched over 7 1/3 innings all season.
Harris led Clemson offensively with three hits and five RBIs. Matt Padgett, and patrick Boyd had two hits apiece. Smalls led the Citadel wit ha 2-4 day, while Philip Hartig had two hits.
“It was big to be back in our own ballpark, ” said Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett who has taken Clemson to a regional every year he has been Clemson head coach. “Jason Harris’s home run in the first inning meant a lot because we had been getting off to rough starts recently. We had our best offensive game as far as clutch hits and running the bases aggressively in quite some time. Matt White did an outstanding job throughout the game keeping The Citadel off balance.”
Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett
“We played well in a lot of areas. We threw strikes and we were aggressive offensively. The hit and run worked well.
“Matt White did a great job against a team that puts a lot of pressure on you.
“It was nice to be home. We had a great crowd. I think the homerun put us ahead and kept them out of their game and we did not have to work from behind.”
On South Alabama: “South Alabama is a great baseball team. They have great pitching and will have a lot of confidence coming off today’s win. We will go with Ryan Mottl and try to keep ourselves in the winning bracket.”
Clemson Pitcher Matt White
“(Jason) Harris did a lot for me hitting the homerun. It made me relax and able to pitch my game.”
Citadel Head Coach Fred Jordan
“Clemson played extremely well tonight. They executed the hit and run in the second inning. We did not handle our pitching well. Clemson was great at home, as usual. You can look back over the years and see that it is difficult to beat Clemson at home. They have struggled some lately but Jack Leggett is a good coach and he got them out of their slump.”
Citadel Pitcher Brian Rogers
“I am frustrated with myself. I needed to keep my mind in the game more. I tried to do much there for a while. I would have liked to play better but Clemson swung the bats extremely well.”
“When we got the score to 6-3, we thought we were back in the game, but we made some mistakes and they did well. We will come back fighting tomorrow.”
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