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May 28, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. - Clemson used the long ball and a deep bullpen to defeat NC State 6-3 and decide the Pool B representative in Sunday's 2011 ACC Baseball Championship title game.
The win tied Clemson (41-18) with Florida State at 2-1 in pool play, but the Seminoles advance to the title game by virtue of their 6-3 win over the Tigers on Thursday.
The Wolfpack (34-25) entered the game knowing that a win would send them into Sunday's title game. They also entered with a pitching staff depleted by their previous game, a 15-inning loss to Georgia Tech.
Freshman D.J. Thomas made his second start of the season for NC State and went a gutsy season-high 4.2 innings to jumpstart the Wolfpack.
Pratt Maynard hit a rare infield double in the first, a line drive off the right knee of Clemson starter Jonathan Meyer. Meyer gamely attempted to stay in the contest and retired Maynard for the third out as Maynard tried to score from third on a pitch that got past catcher Spencer Kieboom.
But the visibly limping Meyer walked Tarran Senay to lead off the second and Andrew Ciencin doubled off the leftfield wall, Senay scoring when the ricochet got past left fielder Richie Shaffer. Meyer lasted one more batter before being pulled for David Haselden, who was greeted by an RBI single off the bat of John Gianis.
Jason Stolz became Clemson's first base runner with a one-out double in the third. But he was erased trying to advance to third on Kieboom's fly out.
The Tigers got on the board in the fourth, when ACC Player of the Year Brad Miller lined his fifth home run of the season.
NC State extended its lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth as Ciencin drove in Harold Riggins with a sacrifice fly.
Thomas retired the first two Clemson hitters in the fifth but was pulled for Josh Easley after Stolz ripped his second double of the game.
Thomas said he hoped to get through five but made a couple of mistakes at the wrong time.
Clemson's rally began in the top of the sixth. Easley left after walking the first two batters. Lefty Nick Rice retired Miller and Will Lamb but surrendered a three-run homer by Richie Shaffer that put the Tigers in the lead for the first time.
The home run was possible only because a hustling Lamb barely beat the throw to first after a force out at second.
The home run was Shaffer's 11th of the season.
Chris Epps led off the seventh with his 10th homer, making the score 5-3 and sending Rice to the showers.
Clemson padded their margin in the eighth. Phil Pohl and Miller started with singles, prompting another pitching change. Lamb scored Pohl with a sacrifice fly off Chris Overman.
The Tigers used seven pitchers, with the bullpen allowing a single run over 7.2 innings. Winner Matt Campbell (1-0) noted that Meyer's early departure placed unusual strain on the relief corps. "As soon as Meyer went down, everyone knew we were going to have to step up. We were ready and all did our jobs."
Rice (1-1) took the loss.
Scott Weismann worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
Losing coach Elliott Avent praised his team's effort. "We battled and battled and battled. But the 15-inning game cost us a lot."
Miller and Stolz had two hits for Clemson, while Ciencin had two hits and a sacrifice fly for NC State.
Attendance was announced at. 4,255.
Clemson, on the strength of its first three home run game of the season, highlighted by Richie Shaffer's three-run fifth-inning blast, overcomes an early 2-0 deficit to beat NC State 6-3 ... with the Clemson victory, Florida State wins Pool B and advances to Sunday's ACC title game for the 10th time in the past 20 years ... the win is No. 1,187 in the 32-year career of Tiger head coach Jack Leggett ... Alpharetta, Ga., freshman Matt Campbell, the third of seven Clemson pitchers, picks up his first career win pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless ball.
Saturday's game was the 181st meeting between two teams that have played each other at least one time every season since 1953 ... the Tigers hold a 109-71-1 lead in the series, including a 18-11 mark in ACC Baseball Championship play.
With his seventh-inning single, Wolfpack 2B Matt Bergquist extends his hitting streak to 12 straight games and over that span is hitting .364 (16-for-44) with 11 RBIs.
The Tigers have hit 12 home runs over their last seven games ... senior RF Chris Epps is 3-for-9 (.333) with one double, two home runs and five RBIs in three ACC Tournament games ... SS Brad Miller was 2-for-4, including his fifth home run of the year; Miller leads the team with 24 multiple hit games this season.
Led by Andrew Ciencin's two hits, seven of the nine Wolfpack starters had at least one hit ... Durham, N.C., freshman D.J. Thomas makes his second start of the season, allowing only one run on four hits in 4.2 innings - his longest outing of the year.