March 6, 2009
Chapel Hill, NC –
Matt Sanders’ sacrifice fly in the 10th inning and stellar relief pitching by Casey Harman and Tomas Cruz led #19 Clemson to a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over #2 North Carolina in front of 2,211 fans at Boshamer Stadium on Friday. The Tigers, who took a 1-0 series lead, improved to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in ACC play. The Tar Heels dropped to 8-2 overall and 0-1 in the ACC.
In Clemson’s first game at North Carolina since 2004, the Tigers took a 4-0 lead in the second inning only to see the Tar Heels score three runs in the bottom of the second. After the Tar Heels tied the score in the seventh inning, the game went into extra innings, where Clemson used two walks and a single to set up Sanders’ go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th inning. It was also Clemson’s first road game and third extra-inning game of the season.
Cruz (1-1) earned his first win as a Tiger, as he pitched 3.0 innings in relief, allowing one hit, no runs, and no walks with two strikeouts. Harman was also effective out of the bullpen, as he pitched a career-long 4.1 innings, allowing just one hit, one run, and one walk with three strikeouts. The two Tiger relievers combined to allow only two hits, one run, and one walk with five strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched. Tar Heel Reliever Brian Moran (0-1) suffered the loss despite pitching 3.1 solid innings with five stikeouts.
The Tigers’ three North Carolina natives on the travel roster all played a part in the victory. Sanders (New Bern) went 2-for-4 with a double and the game-winning RBI. Wilson Boyd (Hickory) walked in the 10th inning and came around to score the winning run. Addison Johnson (Pfafftown) added a hit, RBI, and two key putouts in centerfield, including one in the 10th inning on a hard-hit ball.
After the Tigers got out of a jam in the first inning, Clemson scored four runs in the second inning thanks in part to five consecutive hits, three of which went for extra bases. Kyle Parker led off with a line-drive single to center. Jeff Schaus followed with a two-run homer to center, his first long ball of the season. Sanders then lined a double to left-center and John Nester laced another double to right field, advancing Sanders to third. Johnson’s infield single plated Sanders and Brad Miller moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Nester then scored on Mike Freeman’s groundout, giving Clemson a 4-0 lead.
The Tar Heels answered with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Garrett Gore led off with an infield single and Mark Fleury walked. After Tarron Robinson struck out for out #1, Mike Cavasinni lined a single to left to load the bases. Ryan Graepel’s sacrifice fly to right-center moved all three runners up a base. Ben Bunting then grounded a two-out single through the left side to score Fleury and Cavasinni.
After four scoreless innings, Levi Michael blasted a long solo homer in the seventh inning to tie the score 4-4. It was his third long ball of the season.
In the top of the 10th inning, Boyd drew a one-out walk and went to second on Parker’s single to left-center. Schaus walked to load the bases, then Sanders lofted a 1-2 pitch to right field for a sacrifice fly that scored Boyd, giving Clemson a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, Dustin Ackley laced a one-out single up the middle. Kyle Seager followed with a line drive, but Johnson made a running catch for out #2. Cruz then retired Gore on a flyout to center to end the game.
The Tigers, who outhit North Carolina 9-7, were led at the plate by Parker and Sanders, who both had two hits. Bunting led the Tar Heels with two singles and two RBIs.
Clemson and North Carolina will play game-two of the three-game series at Boshamer Stadium on Saturday at 2:00 PM.
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