April 6, 1999
CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Charles Thomas lined a two-out single to plate the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as Western Carolina claimed a 9-8 upset of visiting Clemson in a college baseball game this afternoon at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium. The Catamounts, who have now won their last two meetings against their former head coach and current Clemson mentor Jack Leggett, improve to 18-12-1 with the win and snap a three-game losing streak. WCU is 5-0 this season in extra-inning games and 6-0 in one-run ball games.
Clemson, which was ranked as high as 12th nationally early this season, lost for the sixth time in its last nine outings to fall to 17-14.
The 10th-inning rally began when WCU’s Eric Johnson singled to right field with two outs. Johnson stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error, setting up Thomas’ line-drive single to center field to win the game.
The Catamounts’ David Pember (5-2), normally WCU’s ace starter, made his second relief appearance of the season when he came on in the sixth inning and went the rest of the way, yielding just one earned run and scattering seven hits over 4 1/3 innings to pick up the win. Clemson’s Brian Adams (3-4) took the loss.
Western jumped out to a 7-2 lead through four innings as it scored six times in the bottom of the fourth. Austin Smithwick and Morgan Frazier each had RBI singles, Johnson hammered a two-run triple, and Chris Moore and Robert Rudder plated runs with sacrifices.
However, Clemson chipped away at the lead with a single run in the fifth on Jason Harris’ RBI single before exploding for a four-run sixth inning to tie the game, 7-7. Kyle Frank had a two-run double, Patrick Boyd drove in a run with another double, and the tying run scored on a fielding error.
Western staked a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh without the benefit of a hit as Steve Harris reached on an error, advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, and scored on another error. Clemson had six errors in the games, with three coming in the seventh.
A Catamount error helped Clemson tie the game again in the top of the ninth as Jason Harris singled to open the frame, advanced to second on an error, and later scored on Frank’s groundout.
Leggett, who built WCU into an perennial Southern Conference power while serving as the program’s head coach from 1983 to 1991, is now 10-3 against his former team.
The Catamounts and Tigers will meet two more times this season, both in Clemson, S.C. WCU returns a visit tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and will also play the Tigers on the road on May 4.
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