Story by Pat Daniel:
A sellout crowd at Doug Kingsmore stadium witnessed Clemson hand the first game of the Super Regional to the Crimson Tide, courtesy of two costly errors and failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities. The Tigers gave a valiant effort at a comeback, but fell short, losing 5-4. The raucous crowd of 6,346 heard more cheers from the Alabama faithful in the end, as the Tide move within one win of punching their ticket to the sixth College World Series in school history, and first since 1999.
Clemson post game press conference:
(Jack Leggett, Mike Freeman, Casey Harman)
Alabama opened up the scoring with a solo home-run by Jake Smith to lead off the second inning. They proceeded to break the game open with a four-run third inning, capitalizing on two throwing errors by the Tigers. All four runs in the inning were unearned, and came with two outs. These would be the final runs of the ball game for Alabama.
The Tigers of Clemson mounted a comeback starting in the bottom half of the third inning as Mike Freeman, Jeff Schaus, and Brad Miller each drove in a run to make the score 5-3 after three.
Both starting pitchers calmed their nerves from here, as the game became a combination of stranded base runners and timely pitching. The Tigers seemed to figure out Alabama’s starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson, but just could not get a timely hit. Clemson stranded 10 base runners, and Alabama stranded seven of their own.
Clemson added one more run in the home half of the sixth inning in large part to pinch-hitter Chris Epps narrowly missing an in-the-park home run. Wilson Boyd scored on the play from first, and Epps wound up being left stranded at third.
The Crimson Tide escaped what could have been a huge 7th inning for the Tigers, as starter Jimmy Nelson came unraveled, throwing a wild pitch and then walking the batter to load the bases. But once again, the Tigers failed to capitalize.
Alabama opened each of the first six innings with a leadoff hit, but did not record a single hit in the final three innings. Clemson threatened in the eighth with two men aboard, but Mike Freeman hit into an inning-ending double play. From there the game ended rather routinely with the one exception being a rare collegiate ejection during the ninth inning. Clemson left fielder Jeff Schaus argued a called third strike to open the ninth, and after being warned by the home plate umpire, was tossed from the ball game. Kyle Parker then also struck out looking, followed by Brad miller grounding out to end the contest.
Jimmy Nelson recorded the win for Alabama, improving his record to 9-3 on the season. He threw 115 pitches, 61 of which were strikes. He also allowed 4 ER, struck out 4, and walked 5 batters. Jake Smith closed out the game by pitching the final two innings, allowing 1 hit, no runs, and recording 2 strikeouts. This was his 6th save on the year.
Casey Harman fell to 7-3 on the season with tonight’s loss, scattering 10 hits, 5 runs (1 earned), and striking out 9 while not issuing a walk. He threw 122 pitches, 83 of which were strikes.
Clemson will start right handed pitcher Scott Weismann in game two Sunday evening. He is 7-2 on the year in 16 appearances with a 5.13 ERA. Alabama will start left hander Adam Morgan Sunday. He is 7-4 with a 5.52 ERA on the season. Coach Jack Leggett and an NCAA representative stated after the game that Jeff Schaus will not be suspended for game two of the Super Regional. Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:00 pm and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
Alabama post game press conference:
(Mitch Gaspard, Jimmy Nelson, Jake Smith)