June 20, 2005
Following consecutive 39-win seasons in 2003 and 2004, the Tigers took the field in 2005 with many newcomers and question marks. The team was not picked to finish in the top four of the ACC in the preseason, a position the team had never been in Jack Leggett’s previous 11 years in Tigertown. The young Tigers were only 15-13 at the season’s halfway point, but finished on a tear, at one point winning 28 of 36 games and one victory shy of a trip to the College World Series.
The 2005 team set the school record for conference wins (21) and finished in second place in the ACC standings, one game behind conference champion Georgia Tech. The Tigers played host to an NCAA Regional for the eighth time in the past 12 years. Clemson swept through the regional in three games, defeating North Carolina A&T, College of Charleston, and Oral Roberts by a combined score of 26-5. The Tigers then traveled to Waco, TX to play the #4 national seed Baylor Bears in the NCAA Super Regional. Clemson won game one 4-2 before the Bears rallied for two wins, leaving the Tigers one victory away from Omaha.
With numerous players lost to the professional draft after the 2004 season, there were question marks at many positions entering the season. Clemson ended up starting four newcomers “up the middle” at the positions of catcher, shortstop, second base, and centerfield. A transfer from Florida International, junior Adrian Casanova took over the duties behind the plate. Freshmen Stan Widmann, Taylor Harbin, and Brad Chalk occupied the shortstop, second base, and centerfield positions, respectively.
Things were not made easier with Clemson rigorous schedule, one of the toughest in the nation, which included 42 of its 66 games against teams that played in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Clemson was not afraid to play the best competition around, and that experience paid off by the end of the season. It also paid off at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, which averaged a school-record 4,049 fans for the 32 home games.
Clemson was a remarkable 19-9 against top-25 ranked teams in 2005. The 19 wins tied for the most in a season in Clemson history, while the 68 percent winning mark was easily the best in school history. Among other superlatives for the 2005 team included hitting .481 with the bases loaded and .337 with runners in scoring position.
The pitching staff began to take shape early in the season. Kris Harvey, Josh Cribb, and Robert Rohrbaugh were all weekend starters when the season began. After some sterling midweek performances, including a complete game victory in a 12-2 win over South Carolina, Stephen Faris worked his way into the Tigers’ weekend rotation. Faris, a Second-Team All-ACC selection, was 6-4 with a team-best 2.60 ERA.
Cribb finished with an 8-5 mark and a 3.54 ERA. The righthander struck out 97 in 109.1 innings pitched against only 24 walks, and was the Tigers’ best pitcher late in the season. He had three complete games, including two shutouts, joining Faris as the first Tigers to total three complete games in a season since 1996. His late-season surge and impeccable control gave the Tigers a formidable rotation.
Rohrbaugh tied with Cribb for the team lead in wins (8-3) and finished with a 4.22 ERA. His six wins in ACC regular-season games was the second-best mark in the league. The seventh-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners had 82 strikeouts in 96.0 innings pitched. Harvey finished the year with a 5-4 mark as well.
Senior righthander Jeff Hahn was the leader of the bullpen, leading the team in appearances (25). Hahn had a team-high three saves, and finished with a 4-1 record and a 3.13 ERA. Freshman David Kopp started some midweek games, and also served an important role out of the bullpen during the weekends. The freshman righthander was 4-3, and opponents only hit .251 off of him.
Tyler Colvin, Andy D’Alessio, Travis Storrer, and Herman Demmink all returned as position players who had started for Clemson in 2004. Colvin (LF), Storrer (RF), and Demmink (3B) all had double-digit hitting streaks at some point in the season. Storrer also hit safely in 29 of the last 30 games. D’Alessio (1B) made the most of his 58 hits, totaling 60 RBIs thanks to 14 doubles and 15 homers.
Five Tiger starters ended the season with batting averages over .340. Clemson was led by Chalk, who hit .350. The speedy outfielder became the first Tiger freshman to lead the team in batting average since 1991. Chalk also set the Clemson single-season record for sacrifice bunts (15). Storrer was second with a .346 batting average, Demmink hit .345, Harbin hit .343, and Harvey finished at .341.
Harbin was named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and a First-Team All-ACC selection. He became the first Tiger freshman in history to earn All-America honors. He set the Clemson freshman record for doubles (28), total bases (160), and extra base hits (42), while his 28 doubles were the third-most in a season in Tiger history. All that while sparkling in the field with an outstanding .974 fielding percentage.
Harvey was named a second-team All-American by Baseball America and First-Team All-ACC pick, and ended the year tied for the NCAA lead in home runs (25). The 25 homers also were tied for the second-most in a season in school history and helped him become a second-round draft pick of the Florida Marlins.
As a team, Clemson showed it could hit for power and play “small ball.” The team hit 76 homers while allowing just 31 long balls. Meanwhile, the team set a school record with 62 sacrifice bunts, 15 more than the previous school record. Despite the youth in the infield, the team had a solid .968 fielding percentage, one of the best figures in Tiger history.
Clemson opened the 2005 season in Myrtle Beach, SC at the Baseball at The Beach Tournament. The curtain raised on the season with the #21 Tigers defeating West Virginia 7-2. Clemson lost a difficult 3-2 decision to Coastal Carolina, led by All-America pitcher Mike Costanzo. The Tigers ended their first weekend of play with a 10-0 loss to East Carolina.
The Tigers returned home for their first series of the year at Doug Kingsmore Stadium against #18 UC Irvine. The Tigers opened the series with a 3-2 win, and followed that victory with a bottom of the ninth, come-from-behind 5-4 victory the next day. Clemson completed the sweep of the Anteaters with a decisive 10-2 win.
Clemson hit the road the following weekend to take on SEC-foe Auburn in a three-game series. The ACC Tigers took a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning of game one, only to see the SEC Tigers rally for three runs in their final at-bat for a 6-5 win. Auburn beat Clemson 8-4 the next day, before the ACC Tigers’ bats heated up in a 14-3 win in the series finale. D’Alessio hit two homers, including a grand slam, along with six RBIs in the blowout victory.
NCAA Tournament qualifier Winthrop defeated the Tigers in a midweek game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on March 9 before Clemson hosted rival South Carolina on March 12. The #4 Gamecocks won the first of four games between the two in 2005 by a score of 6-3, and the two teams traveled to Columbia the following day for game two. A two-run double by Harbin gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning, but two critical miscues by the Clemson defense in the bottom of the eighth allowed South Carolina to escape with a 6-5 win.
Another NCAA Tournament team visited Doug Kingsmore Stadium for a midweek game, this time the Furman Paladins. The Tigers jumped on the Paladins and cruised to an 11-1 victory.
The #9 North Carolina Tar Heels visited Clemson, as the Tigers opened ACC play. In the Friday-night opener, North Carolina starter Andrew Miller out-dueled Cribb in a 2-1 victory, and Clemson’s record reached a season-low 6-8. The Tigers responded with a 9-1 win on Saturday, and claimed the series on Sunday with a 7-3 win. In an interesting note, all three games of the series were played in exactly two hours and 39 minutes.
Clemson hit the road for its spring-break trip, playing two midweek games at Old Dominion before a weekend series at Maryland. The Tigers split two one-run decisions with the Monarchs and headed to College Park with a 9-9 record.
The Tigers beat the Terrapins in the Friday-night opener 14-3, and played the last two games of the series in a Saturday doubleheader due to the threat of inclement weather on Sunday. Demmink’s two-run double paved the way to a 6-4, 13-inning win for the Tigers in the first game of the day, with substitute Ben Hall making one of the biggest defensive plays of the season at second base. He robbed what would have been a walkoff, game-winning hit by the Terrapins. The win was a landmark victory, as it was the 900th in Leggett’s career. Clemson completed its first ACC sweep of the season later that night with a decisive 12-0 victory over Maryland.
Once again, Clemson played host to an NCAA Tournament team in the middle of the week. This time the opponent was the #25 Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina. The Tigers avenged the loss earlier in the season by sweeping the two-game set by scores of 14-5 and 8-1.
Clemson hit the road for a weekend set at #6 Florida State. Game one of the series was not played until Saturday night, a 3-1 Seminole victory. The teams played a doubleheader Sunday, with Florida State claiming a 5-4 walkoff win before Clemson won the nightcap 7-3. In the series finale, Clemson ended Shane Robinson’s 40-game hitting streak, one game shy of the ACC record held by former Clemson star Rusty Adkins.
After arriving back home in the early hours of Monday morning, Clemson had to hit the road on Tuesday for a trip to Athens, GA to take on another SEC foe, the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers jumped out to a five-run lead, but the Bulldogs rallied late for an 11-10 win. The two teams played again the following night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, with the Bulldogs winning 4-1, despite a complete game on the mound by Faris.
With the season at its halfway point and the Tigers record sitting at 15-13, Clemson returned to ACC play, hosting the Duke Blue Devils. The Tigers fought from behind in each of the first two games of the series to gain 9-3 and 11-6 victories. In the Sunday finale, Clemson again had to come from behind to gain a victory, this time thanks to a 12-run eighth inning, the most runs ever scored in an eighth inning in school history. The high-scoring inning also tied for the sixth-most runs in a single inning in Clemson history. The weekend sweep improved the Tigers to 9-3 in ACC play.
In a game that started at Cullowhee, NC on April 12 and ended at Clemson on April 19, the Tigers outlasted Western Carolina 7-4. On Wednesday April 13, Clemson blasted #4 South Carolina 12-2 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Faris pitched his second complete game in as many weeks, limiting the Gamecocks to only five hits and breaking their nine-game winning streak. Every Tiger starter had at least one hit and scored at least one run.
Clemson won two of three games over Virginia the following weekend. The Tigers won the first two games by scores of 13-4 and 3-2, while the Cavaliers avoided the sweep with a 9-2 Sunday win. Clemson’s infielders did not commit a single error in the field in the series. Tiger pitchers also allowed just three extra-base hits in the series.
The Tigers finished their five-game homestand with a 10-1 win over Western Carolina in which Clemson pounded out 17 hits. It was the Tigers’ 35th-straight win over the Catamounts at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The following night, Clemson traveled to Columbia for the series finale against South Carolina. The Tigers took an early 3-0 lead before the #8 Gamecocks plated four runs in the sixth inning. Clemson tied the score 4-4 in the ninth, and had two runners on base with two outs when Harvey stepped to the plate. He hit a high home run over the wall in left, giving the Tigers their second victory over South Carolina in as many weeks. Colvin, who received the Bob Bradley Award as Clemson’s MVP in the four-game series with the Gamecocks, hit a double and inside-the-park home run.
N.C. State took two of three games from the Tigers from April 22-24, despite Clemson outscoring the Wolfpack 27-26 over the weekend. N.C. State won the first game 8-3, with the Tigers responding with a 16-9 victory on Saturday night. Harbin totaled three homers, eight RBIs, and a school-record 16 total bases in the win. His three homers came on back-to-back-to-back pitches, as his last two long balls came on the first pitch of each at-bat. Aaron Cone hit a walkoff single off the left-field wall to give the Wolfpack a 9-8 win in the series finale.
Clemson returned home to host the Elon Phoenix, who have always proved to be a tough opponent for the Tigers. Demmink and Harvey each hit two-run homers, and the Tigers won 9-6 on a cold and rainy night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The following night, D’Alessio hit a grand slam as Clemson cruised to a 7-1 victory over visiting Wofford.
The #6 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets then visited Doug Kingsmore Stadium for a key ACC series. The Yellow Jackets won the first game 18-14 in a slugfest. The Tigers led 8-1 in the fourth inning, but the Georgia Tech offense came to life, pounding out 21 hits on the night. In the second game, Clemson scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning to earn a dramatic 6-5 walkoff victory. The inning was highlighted by Harbin’s two-run single to win the game. The Yellow Jackets won game three 6-4 despite being out-hit by the Tigers 12-10. Clemson hit .345 in the series, but Georgia Tech hit .377.
The Tigers took the following week off for exams before traveling to Blacksburg, VA to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in an odd Sunday-Tuesday three-game series. Clemson showed signs of rust after their week off, as the Hokies took game one 11-7. The Tigers rebounded the following day with a 7-0 win, with Cribb tossing a six-hit shutout. In Tuesday’s rubber match, Harvey hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to lift Clemson to a 6-2 win.
Clemson visited Wake Forest for its final road series of the regular season, with hopes of an ACC Championship still alive. The Tigers were three games behind first-place Georgia Tech, and Clemson needed to win all six of its remaining conference games to have a chance to win the title. In the series opener against the Demon Deacons, Faris pitched a complete game six-hitter to lead the Tigers to a 4-1 win. In game two, the Tigers produced their biggest comeback of the year. Trailing Wake Forest 13-6 in the sixth inning, Clemson rallied and defeated the Demon Deacons 17-14 in 11 innings. D’Alessio went 3-for-6 with a homer, double, and six RBIs, and made a game-saving play on a ground ball with the bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth inning. Clemson completed the sweep on May 15 with a 6-5 victory.
The Tigers stepped out of conference one final time in the regular season when #20 College of Charleston visited Doug Kingsmore Stadium on May 17. Clemson scored three runs in the fifth inning to gain a lead it would never relinquish in defeating the Cougars 8-5.
The #4 Miami (FL) Hurricanes traveled to Clemson in the final regular-season series for both teams. The Tigers needed to sweep the Hurricanes and have North Carolina sweep Georgia Tech to earn a share of the ACC Championship. In game one, Clemson scored 11 runs in the fourth inning on its way to a 15-5 win. Cesar Carrillo suffered his first collegiate loss in 25 decisions, as Miami also fell for the first time in his 31 career starts. Harvey hit two homers in game two and had three RBIs, as the Tigers cruised to a 9-2 win. Cribb struck out nine against only one walk in 7.0 innings pitched. In the regular-season finale, Harbin tied a school record with three doubles to lead Clemson to a 6-2 win on May 21. The Tigers scored five runs in the sixth inning to rally from a 2-0 deficit, with Colvin’s three-run homer the big blow of the frame. Clemson completed the sweep it had to have, and North Carolina beat Georgia Tech twice in three games, meaning the Tigers finished the ACC season in second place, only one game behind the Yellow Jackets.
Clemson traveled to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (FL) for the 32nd ACC Tournament as the #2 seed. In the opening round against Virginia, the Cavaliers broke open a close game with five runs in the eighth inning en route to an 8-1 win. The Tigers responded the following morning by eliminating #3-seed and #8-ranked Miami with a 9-1 win behind a complete game six-hitter by Cribb. He earned All-ACC Tournament honors as one of just two pitchers. It was Clemson’s fourth win over Miami in eight days.
In the third game, Clemson eliminated #6-seed and #18-ranked N.C. State 5-4 behind the left arm of Rohrbaugh. He earned the win by pitching 8.2 innings, allowing just four runs (one earned run) on four hits with 10 strikeouts. It was the Tigers’ eighth consecutive win over the Wolfpack in ACC Tournament play. On May 28, Virginia held on for a 5-4 win over Clemson to eliminate the Tigers and advance to the championship game. Clemson had the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings, but the Cavaliers turned double plays in both frames.
Clemson learned it had gained an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on May 29 when it was announced the Tigers were selected as one of 16 NCAA Regional hosts. It marked Clemson’s 19th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, a streak that is tied for third-longest in NCAA history.
In the first game of the regional against North Carolina A&T, Clemson turned a one-run deficit into a seven-run lead with eight runs in the seventh inning on the way to a 12-2 win. Colvin’s two-run triple to center gave the Tigers the lead for good. Faris struck out 10 against only one walk in 6.2 innings, while Daniel Moskos retired the only batter he faced and earned the victory.
In the second game against #22 College of Charleston on June 4, Cribb pitched a two-hit shutout in Clemson’s 6-0 win. Cribb threw 98 pitches, allowing one walk with six strikeouts. College of Charleston, who easily led the nation in batting average entering the tournament, did not advance a runner past second base, while the two hits included a bunt single and a bloop single. It was the seventh time in school history a Tiger pitched a shutout in an NCAA Tournament game, and his two hits were the least allowed in any of those seven shutouts. D’Alessio, Widmann, and Casanova, the 7-9 batters in the order, each scored two runs apiece to account for all six runs.
In the championship game, Harvey hit two solo homers, and D’Alessio went 3-for-3 with a double, homer, and three RBIs to lead the Tigers to an 8-3 win. D’Alessio was named Clemson Regional MVP for his efforts. The Tigers turned three double plays, including two unassisted double plays by D’Alessio, believed to be the only time in Clemson history one player has had two unassisted double plays in the same game.
The Tigers traveled to Texas for the Waco Super Regional against the Baylor Bears. It was the program’s fifth super regional appearance in the seventh year of its existence. Clemson won game one 4-2, but the Tigers managed just two runs in the final two games. Clemson was just 3-for-23 (.130) with runners in scoring position in the three games. Clemson’s 3.23 ERA was the best mark of any team in school history in an NCAA Tournament.
Although the team fell just one game short of reaching Omaha, the team showed its mettle by going 28-10 after starting the year 15-13. The team, who also won 15 of its last 19 games, was one of the hottest clubs in the country during the second half of 2005, and will return almost every position player in 2006. There is certainly reason for optimism thanks to the foundation set by the young 2005 Tigers.
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