Seton Hall Knocks Off South Alabama 7-2 In Clemson Regional Opener

Seton Hall Knocks Off South Alabama 7-2 In Clemson Regional Opener

May 25, 2001

Box Score Post Game Quotes

Clemson, SC – Chris Carter drove in three runs with a second-inning double and starting pitcher B.J. Benik allowed just two runs in eight innings leading #4 seed Seton Hall to a 7-2 victory over #1 seed South Alabama in the first game of the 2001 Clemson Regional at Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, SC.

Seton Hall, tournament champions of the Big East Conference, improved to 33-21-1 for the season, while South Alabama, champions of the Sun Belt Conference, fell to 44-18. South Alabama now moves into the losers bracket and will play the loser of the tonight’s Clemson vs. William & Mary game at 11,00 AM Saturday. Seton Hall will face the winner of the Clemson vs. William & Mary game Saturday at 3:00 PM.

Seton Hall started the season by losing seven of its first eight games, but has now won six in a row, including four in postseason play. Seton Hall entered the final weekend of the Big East conference regular season race in fifth place and was in danger of not even qualifying for its conference tournament. Now the Pirates have upset the number-one seed in an NCAA regional. The team is being coached by interim head coach Rob Sheppard, son of head coach Mike Sheppard, who has missed the entire season after undergoing triple bypass heart surgery on February 27th.

Seton Hall wasted little time in getting on the board. In the top of the second, Adam Arslanian and Kevin Leighton earned consecutive one-out walks. Josh Schuck then singled to load the bases. With two out, shortstop Chris Carter, the number-nine man in the batting order, and a .245 hitter with just four doubles all year, picked a great time to pick up his fifth double. The hit up the alley in right center off Seton Hall starter and loser Clark Girardeau plated all three runs.

Seton Hall came back in the bottom of the second. With one out, Warren Hanna singled up the middle. He then moved all the way to third when Seton Hall third baseman Joe Scott fielded Brett Parker’s ground ball, but threw wild at second base. That set up a second-and-third situation. Scott Calahan, South Alabama’s number-nine man in the order, then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score the Jaguars first run of the game.

South Alabama made the contest a one-run game n the bottom of the fourth. Hanna again started the uprising with a single to center. One out later Calahan struck again, this time with a double down the right field line. Through the first seven innings of the game all five runs scored between the two teams were driven in by the number-nine batter in the order.

Both starting pitchers settled down for the next few innings. It remained a one-run game until the top of the eighth when Seton Hall scored four runs, thanks for the most part to three South Alabama errors. The Jaguars ended the game with five errors, equaling a season high.

With one out, Casey Grimm reached on an error by Girardeau. Brian Leighton followed with a single and Grimm moved to third on a throwing error by South Alabama right fielder Erik Smallwood. Arslanian then followed with a single to score Grimm. Kevin Leighton and Josh Schuck followed with a pair of walks, the second of which forced in another run. Scott then hit a ground ball to second, but Scott Calahan’s throw was errant and two more runs scored, giving Seton Hall a 7-2 lead.

Benik allowed just one hit in the eighth and Pirate closer Isaac Pavlik allowed just one hit in the ninth, sending Seton Hall to the winner’s bracket.

Benik pitched eight innings and allowed just two runs, just one of which was earned. He struck out five in raising his record to 5-7 for the season. Girardeau, the team leader in wins for South Alabama, fell to 10-4 for the season.

Carter had just the one hit for Seton Hall, but he had a team best three RBIs. Brian Leighton had two hits and a walk, wile Kevin Leighton had a double and two walks and scored two runs. South Alabama was led at the plate by Calahan, who had a 3 for 3 night and two RBIs. Leadoff man Cameron Likely had two hits and a sacrifice. Warren Hanna also had three hits and scored both runs.

Post Game Quotes

Winning Coach (Rob Sheppard, Seton Hall) “We were fortunate enough to capitalize on some walks that we got early in the game. We had a couple of big at bats from Chris Carter when we had bases loaded with two outs. B.J. (Benik) did a very good job of commanding, keeping guys out of scoring position and of spreading out the hits that he gave up.”

“This win is a good step for the program. Last year we had an opportunity to get back to the regional. This year, we didn’t want to be two and out, so we had it in our mind to come in here and play hard baseball and let the chips fall where they may. For the program, it was our first win since 1987, and I think we faced Clemson in the second round. These guys have done a great job, and we’ve been playing well as of late.”

Losing Coach (Steve Kittrell, University of South Alabama) “This is definitely one of the ugliest and most disappointing games I have seen since I have been at South Alabama. It was a very bad game all around on our part. We simply had way too many errors and walks. It is one thing to play well and lose, but it is very disappointing to play the way we did and lose. We had been playing with a great deal of confidence but we looked very tentative and seemed almost to be playing not to lose instead of playing to win. I don’t know if our kids put to much pressure on themselves because we were the number-one seed, but it is something that I can not put my finger on. I simply did not prepare our team the way I needed to for us to be successful today.”

“You really have to give a great deal of credit to Seton Hall and the way they played the game today. They made only one error and they pitched extremely well. They were really ready to play and they jumped on us from the very beginning. They out hustled, out played, and out coached us in every aspect of the game. They played extremely well and they deserve all the credit.”