There is no mercy rule for blow out games in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. And Clemson (42-18) showed no mercy on Sacred Heart (34-22) Friday night scoring all of its runs in the first three innings in an 11-1 victory. The Tigers advance to play Coastal Carolina Saturday night at 7:00 PM. The Pioneers will meet Connecticut in an elimination game at 3:00 PM.
The Tigers wasted no time jumping on Sacred Heart starter Troy Scribner who brought a seven game winning streak into the start. They put four runs on the board. Brad Miller got home the first run witha ground out. Three batters later Jeff Schaus delivered an RBI single. And then Chris Epps followed with a single that drove in two.
The Tigers made it 5-0 in the second. John Hinson led off with a double and later stole third. Phil Pohl got him home on a ground out to the first baseman.
That set the stage for a six run third inning that ended all doubts about this one. The Tigers batted around. A pair of walks put runners on first and second with one out. Epps, Jason Stolz and Spencer Kieboom combined for consecutive run scoring singles for an 8-0 lead. Hinson then capped the scoring for the Tigers with a three run homer to right, his 8th of the season.
Scott Firth (5-1) was the benefactor of all this offense. Firth has not been one of the Tigers’ frontline starters but Jack Leggett rolled the dice hoping Firth could get thru this game and save the bullpen. He did all that and more. Firth went six complete innings allowing just the one run. He scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five. Kevin Pohle and Jon Surber finished up combining for three innings of one hit ball.
(Jack Leggett, John Hinson, Chris Epps, Scott Firth)
Hinson and Pohl each had three hits for the Tigers. Epps had two hits and three RBIs.
The Tigers will start Dominic Leone Saturday night against Coastal Carolina. Chants coach Gary Gilmore, as of Friday night, was deciding between a pair of lefthanders, Jim Birmingham and Keith Hessler.