May 26, 2001
Post Game Quotes
Clemson, SC – Chris Reilly pitched a gutty 7 2/3 innings and Isaac Pavlik came on to earn his eighth save of the season, leading #4 seed Seton Hall to an 8-7 upset of #1 seed South Alabama in the fifth game of the Clemson Regional at Kingsmore Stadium on Saturday night. Seton Hall now advances to the championship game against host school Clemson on Sunday at 1,00 PM.
Clemson is the undefeated team so Seton Hall would have to beat the Tigers twice on Sunday to advance to the Super Regional against the winner of the Coral Gables Regional.
Seton Hall improved to 34-22-1 with the victory, while the 21st ranked South Alabama Jaguars fell finished their season with a 45-19 ledger. It was quite a comeback win for Seton Hall, who had lost 24-4 to Clemson earlier in the day.
Seton Hall had an 8-5 lead heading into the ninth inning of Saturday night’s game. But, South Alabama rallied and had runners on first and third when the game ended.
Erik Smallwood opened the ninth for South Alabama with a single. He advanced to second on a walk and to third on a single by pinch hitter Brantley Griffin. That loaded the bases. Ryan Mulhern, the star for South Alabama earlier in the day in a win over William & Mary, grounded out to shortstop, scoring Smallwood.
Kyle Stanky, grandson of famed major leaguer Eddie Stanky, then pinch hit for Brandon Davis. Stanky hit a slow roller back to Pavlik, who chased down Jim Merritt, who was trying to score from third. Warren Hanna then singled home Mulhern to make the count 8-7.
Shane Scoville, the only native of New Jersey on the South Alabama team, then came to the plate as a pinch hitter. But, Pavlik forced him to fly out to right field to end the game.
South Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Cameron Likely worked a leadoff walk, then stole second, his team best 23 steal of the year. He then moved to third when Tim Merritt’s ground ball was misplayed by Seton Hall shortstop Chris Carter. Likely then scored on a ground out by Nick Gretz.
Seton Hall came back with four runs on four hits in the bottom of the second off South Alabama starter and loser Casey Almond. With one out, Kevin Leighton walked. Josh Schuck then doubled down the right field line. When South Alabama right fielder Erik Smallwood’s throw was difficult to handle at second base, Leighton came on to score.
Joe Scott then walked and Chris Carter followed with a single to right, scoring Schuck with the second run of the inning. After Joe Cuervo reached on a fielder’s choice, Mike Baucom singled home Carter with the third run of the inning. After Casey Grimm walked, Brian Leighton singled to right field, scoring Cuervo. Bascom also tried to score on the play, but was cut down on a throw from Smallwood, who ironically had been charged with the throwing error earlier in the inning. Seton Hall sent nine men to the plate in the inning and eight of them reached base safely.
South Alabama cut the deficit to 4-3 with two runs in the top of the third. Scott Calahan, the number-nine hitter in the order, but the top hitter for the season on the South Alabama team with a .363 average, singled to center to start the frame. Likely then singled to left. Smallwood then executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move both runners up. Calahan scored on an infield out, and Likely was plated on a single by Nick Gretz.
Seton Hall retaliated with two runs in the bottom of the third off relief pitcher Joe Long. Adam Arslanian worked a leadoff walk. He moved to second on a fielder’s choice and later scored when Joe Scott grounded into a double play. Carter then delivered a clutch two out single to center to score Kevin Leighton, who had reached on the fielder’s choice.
Seton Hall held the 6-3 lead into the sixth inning when South Alabama scored two more runs on three hits. Gretz led off and reached when his infield popup was lost in the early evening sky by the left side of the South Alabama infield. One out later, Brandon Davis reached on a fielder’s choice. Warren Hanna singled to set up a first and second situation. Pinch hitter Tony Piccotti then delivered a double to right center that scored two runs to make the count 6-5.
Seton Hall got one of the runs back in the bottom of the seventh. Kevin Leighton doubled down the right field line and went to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Joe Scott.
South Alabama finally knocked starter Chris Reilly out of the game in the top of the eighth, but the Jaguars could not score in the process. Ace reliever Isaac Pavlik came on in relief to enduce Cameron Likely to fly out to center with two out and two on.
Seton Hall added what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the eighth. Joe Cuervo, who had a three-hit game from the leadoff position, singled to start the inning. He moved to second on a sacrifice and later scored on an error by Scott Calahan at second base.
Losing Coach (Steve Kittrell, South Alabama) “This is a tough loss and a tough way to end a very good season because we had 11 seniors and very high expectations coming into the tournament. Seton Hall simply had our number tonight but I am very proud of the effort of our kids. We pressed a little bit in the first game yesterday but we came back and gave everything we had today.”
“This team might face some criticism , but I am going to remember this group for all their accomplishment s over the course of the season and for their Sun Belt Conference championship. I think maybe we tried a little too hard out there and maybe I didn’t do a good enough job of having our kids ready to play as a number-one seed.”
Winning Coach (Rob Sheppard, Seton Hall) “I am pretty proud of the guys for bouncing back from a tough loss earlier today. South Alabama battled very hard. They are a great team and deserving of a number one seed. We came back and battled through a little adversity from earlier in the day.”
“I told them it is down to a point where this could be our last game and leave everything they have on the field. When the score is that lop-sided and it’s that out of reach you just have to erase it because at this point in the season you are playing a one game series. You have to play it inning by inning and game by game.” .
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