CLEMSON, S.C. — Facing elimination, Clemson didn’t have its back to the wall for very long in Sunday night’s second game of the NCAA Clemson Super Regional.
The Tigers scored six runs in the top of the first inning and added nine more in the sixth while crushing Alabama 19-5 to even the best-of-three series. The winner of Mondays game will advance to the College World Series.
The Crimson Tide (42-24) never made a serious threat. The Tigers led 19-3 at one point.
“We were able to loosen up and get a little momentum,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.
John Hinson stroked a two-run single and Spencer Kieboom capped the first inning scoring for the Tigers (42-23) with a two-run double off Alabama starter Adam Morgan.
Brad Miller finished off the nine-run sixth with a grand slam. Hinson and Richie Shaffer also homered for Clemson, which pounded 20 hits off six Alabama pitchers.
“I guess we just like to battle,” said Miller of the Tigers, who have rebounded after losing nine of 12 games late in the regular season. Clemson starter Scott Weismann (8-2) allowed nine hits and three earned runs in six innings.
Morgan (7-5) gave up eight earned runs before Hinson and Shaffer knocked him out with back-to-back homers in the third.
The Tigers hope to carry some momentum into the rubber game against Tide ace right-hander Nathan Kilcrease (8-2). Righty Dominic Leone (2-1) will start for Clemson.
“When you get 20 hits in a game you carry over some momentum and have a lot of confidence,” said Hinson.
Jake Smith and Ross Wilson homered for the Tide, which lost for only the third time in its last 16 games.
“We’ll be ready to go — no doubt,” said Alabama left fielder Jon Kelton. “We still believe we’re playing well.”
“You just have to forget it and have a short-term memory,” Morgan said.
Jeff Schaus and Miller each had four hits for the Tigers.
Alabama scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings, but Clemson rebounded to score each time in its next at-bat and put down any chance of a rally.
“The thing I’m most proud of is every time they scored, we scored and answered,” Leggett said.
How the SEC fared:
Lost 7-6 to Florida State in Game 3, ending season.
Lost 19-5 to Clemson on Sunday; Game 3 is today at noon.
Lost 7-6 in 12 innings to Arizona State, ending season.
Swept Miami 7-2 and 4-3 to reach the College World Series.
The Associated Press