May 17, 2008
Orlando, FL –
Clemson scored three runs in the eighth inning to take the lead for good and defeat Central Florida 8-5 in front of 1,625 fans at Jay Bergman Field on Saturday night. The Tigers, who swept the series 3-0, wrapped up the regular season with a 30-25-1 record and five-game winning streak, while the Knights fell to 31-25.
Justin Sarratt (2-2) earned the win by pitching 1.1 scoreless innings in relief, while Matt Vaughn pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to record his 11th save of the season. Five Tiger pitchers combined for eight strikeouts without allowing a walk or hit-by-pitch in the contest.
Knight reliever Brian Griggs (1-4) suffered the loss, as he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits in 3.1 innings pitched.
Mike Freeman led off the game with a double down the left-field line on a 1-2 pitch. Two batters later, Kyle Parker hit a towering two-run homer down the left-field line, his third long ball of the series and 14th of the season.
The Knights responded with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Colin Arnold led off with a single up the middle. On the pitch that Tyson Auer struck out, Arnold stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by catcher Doug Hogan. Kiko Vazquez followed with a single up the middle to score Arnold.
The Tigers appeared to add to their lead in the third inning, but a stellar defensive play kept Central Florida down by only one run. Jeff Schaus led off with a single through the right side and Parker followed with a walk. Two batters later, Ben Paulsen laced a ball to left-center, but Auer made a leaping catch before crashing into the fence to rob Paulsen of an extra-base hit.
Clemson did add to its lead in the top of the fourth inning when Wilson Boyd hit a 2-2 pitch over the fence down the right-field line for a solo homer, his 10th long ball of the season.
Like the first inning, Central Florida answered Clemson’s score with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Shane Brown hit a solo homer to left field.
A Tiger miscue allowed the Knights to threaten to tie the score in the fifth inning, but starter Trey Delk worked out of the jam. Josh Siebenaler hit a one-out, infield single. Arnold followed with a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder, but Freeman’s throw to second was errant, allowing Siebenaler to advance to third and Arnold to move to second. Auer then lined a ball back up the middle, but Delk got a glove on the ball and fielded in time to retire Auer at first base in a close play for out #2. Vazquez then flied out to end the frame.
Central Florida did even the score in the sixth when Brown hit the inning’s first pitch over the fence in left-center. It was his second homer of the game and eighth of the season. Three batters later, Ryan Richardson gave the Knights a 4-3 lead when he blasted an opposite-field, solo homer to right-center, his fifth home run of the year.
Clemson came right back and tied the score in the top of the seventh inning. Freeman hit a one-out single up the middle and advanced to second on Schaus’ groundout. Parker then grounded a two-out double over the third-base bag to score Freeman.
With two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the seventh inning, Brown and Robert Lara hit singles. Pinch-hitter Brandon Romans then lined another single to right field that allowed Brown to score the go-ahead run just ahead of Parker’s throw.
Stan Widmann followed with a routine grounder back to the mound, but Griggs’ throw to first base was errant. Boyd and pinch-hitter John Hinson drew walks to load the bases, then Freeman, an Orlando, FL native, lined a single to right-center to score Widmann. Schaus brought home Boyd when he was hit-by-pitch. The Tigers were unable to up their 7-5 lead, as Parker struck out and Hogan grounded out to end the inning.
Clemson added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. Paulsen led off with a double to left-center and advanced to third on Sanders’ sacrifice bunt. Widmann followed with a single off the pitcher’s leg to score Paulsen and give Clemson an 8-5 lead.
Freeman and Paulsen paced Clemson’s 12-hit attack with three hits apiece. Parker, who missed his Senior Prom at Bartram Trail High School in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday night to help the Tigers to victory, was 2-for-4 with a homer, double, and three RBIs. Parker graduated high school a semester early to enroll at Clemson in January.
Central Florida, who totaled 14 hits, was led by Brown, who went 3-for-5 with two homers, three runs scored, and two RBIs. Arnold added three hits as well.
In sweeping the series, Clemson outscored the Knights 24-9 and outhit them .325 to .257. Tiger batters combined for 17 extra-base hits, including nine doubles, two triples, and six home runs.
Clemson will travel directly to Jacksonville, FL to play in the ACC Tournament at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The Tigers’ first game will be on Wednesday. Seedings and times of the round-robin tournament will be announced by the conference office on Sunday.
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