June 12, 2010
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Clemson, SC –
The #16 Alabama Crimson Tide took advantage of two Tiger errors to score four unearned runs in the third inning and Alabama made several key defensive plays in its 5-4 win over #13 Clemson in front of 6,346 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the Clemson Super Regional on Saturday night. The Crimson Tide, who took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series, improved to 42-23 on the season. The Tigers, who saw their seven-game home winning streak snapped, fell to 41-23. It was the first meeting between the two teams since 1996, when the Tigers edged Alabama 14-13 in the College World Series.
Alabama scored a run in the second innong on Jake Smith’s solo homer, then the Crimson Tide used three singles and two Tiger errors to score four unearned runs in the third inning. The Tigers clawed back with three runs in the third inning and another run in the sixth inning. However, Alabama turned inning-ending double plays in the fifth inning (when the bases were loaded) and the eighth inning (with runners on first and second) to come up with the one-run victory.
Jimmy Nelson (9-3), the first of three Alabama pitchers, earned the win. In 6.2 innings pitched, he allowed nine hits, four runs, and five walks with four strikeouts. Smith recorded his sixth save of the year by pitching 2.0 scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He yielded just one hit as well.
Tiger starter Casey Harman (7-3) suffered the loss despite allowing just one earned run and no walks with nine strikeouts in 8.1 innings pitched. The junior lefthander surrendered 10 hits and five runs, but the only earned run came on Smith’s long ball. He also retired each of the last nine batters he faced.
The Crimson Tide took the game’s first lead in the second inning when Smith led off with a long solo homer to left field, his 14th home run of the season.
In the top of the third inning, Alabama added four unearned runs to its lead thanks in part to two costly Tiger errors. Taylor Dugas led off with a single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch. Josh Rutledge laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached first when Harman mishandled the ball for an error. After both runners moved up a base on another sacrifice bunt, this time by Ross Wilson, Clay Jones was hit-by-pitch to load the bases with one out. Smith struck out swinging for out #2, then Jon Kelton grounded a ball to John Hinson. The Tiger third-baseman booted the ball, allowing Dugas to score and Alabama to extend the inning. Andrew Miller followed with a seeing-eye single through the left side to plate Rutledge and Jones, then Brett Booth singled up the middle to bring home Kelton.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Tigers answered with three runs on four hits to narrow Alabama’s lead to 5-3. Wilson Boyd led off with a walk on four pitches and moved to third two batters later on Will Lamb’s one-out single up the middle. Mike Freeman followed with a single to left-center to plate Boyd. It also extended Freeman’s hitting streak to 12 games. Jeff Schaus lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Lamb. After Kyle Parker grounded a two-out single through the left side, Brad Miller bounced a single up the middle to score Freeman. It also extended Miller’s hitting streak to 15 games.
In the sixth inning, Chris Epps then slapped a two-out triple over the first-base bag to score Boyd, cutting Alabama’s lead to 5-4.
Dugas had a game-high four hits, which also tied his career high, in five at-bats and scored a run to lead Alabama, who had 10 hits but none after the sixth inning. Smith, Miller, and Booth added two hits apiece, as only four Crimson Tide players had a hit in the game. Alabama put its leadoff batters on base in each of the first six innings as well.
Schaus went 3-for-4 with a double and RBI to pace the Tigers, who totaled 11 hits but left 10 runners on base. Lamb and Freeman added two hits apiece as well.
Clemson and Alabama will play game-two of the super regional on Sunday at 7:00 PM on ESPN2. An Alabama win will send the Crimson Tide to the College World Series, while the Tigers must win to force a decisive game-three on Monday.
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