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|GAME AT A
Point: Oklahoma starter Bobby Shore simply couldn’t find the strike zone in the fourth inning, starting the frame with 14 straight balls. That led to four Clemson runs, and the Tigers never looked back.
OMAHA—It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
“It was kind of a tale of two different days,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.
On the one hand, Leggett said the suspension of Tuesday’s game made for “a tough night’s sleep,” going home with the job left unfinished. On the other hand . . .
“The good thing about it was we were able to go home with a better when you’re up 6-1 rather than being down 6-1,” Leggett said. “We wanted to finish that game off last night because we were feeling prety good about ourselves. But it definitely is an adjustment to have to go home and restart your batteries, restart things up, and the kids did a good job of that today.”
Heavy rain and lightning forced the suspension of Tuesday’s game after five innings, and it’s a good thing for Clemson it had the lead when play resumed. Oklahoma outscored the Tigers 3-0 on Wednesday, but Clemson held on for a 6-4 win to improve to 2-0 at the College World Series.
Clemson starter Scott Weismann earned the win after holding the Sooners (50-17) to a run on three hits over five innings Tuesday. But the suspension forced a premature end to Weismann’s outing, forcing the Tigers (45-23) to tap into their shaky bullpen earlier than hoped.
“For that to happen, it’s kind of unfortunate—I thought I was getting in a groove there for those last couple innings,” Weismann said. “It was disappointing, but the guys took care of it after the delay.”
Lefthander Will Lamb took the mound when play resumed and looked very sharp for two innings. He blew his fastball by Oklahoma hitters repeatedly and racked up a career-high five strikeouts over his first two innings of work, before running into trouble in the eighth.
Oklahoma got within three on solo homers by Cameron Seitzer in the seventh and Tyler Ogle in the eighth, and the Sooners loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth. But reliever Dominic Leone escaped the jam by getting pinch-hitter Casey Johnson to pop out to shortstop, ending Oklahoma’s best chance to get back into the game. Alex Frederick entered with one out in the ninth and worked the save.
“I thought our guys came back and really played well today after the delay,” Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway said. “We’ve had quite a bit of rain delays since we’ve gotten here to Omaha, but we are clearly not complaining.”
Golloway said he feels good about his team’s chances to bounce back, especially with junior righthander Zach Neal on the mound Thursday against South Carolina, but he wants his hitters to be more disciplined and patient.
“Some people have called us free-swingers. We don’t like that, and we clearly don’t want to be that,” Gollway said. “I’ve made that a point of emphasis: If we’re going to stay and compete for a national championship, we cannot swing at balls out of the zone . . . We’ve done that too often.”
Patience has been a key to Clemson’s success all season—the Tigers rank third in the nation in walks—and was a key to the win against Oklahoma. Clemson drew eight walks, including four of them in the critical four-run fourth inning, when OU starter Bobby Shore started the frame with 14 straight balls.
“I could not throw a strike,” Shore said. “I was trying to throw the ball right down the middle, especially on the bunt, just force contact. It was just one of those things I could not throw a strike. The game sped up on me.”
Clemson took advantage, and now the Tigers are sitting pretty. They’ll be off Thursday and then will need just one win to reach the CWS Finals. After preparing to play Sunday only to have that game postponed until Monday, then having to play both Tuesday and Wednesday because of weather, Clemson is welcoming the off day.
“We feel like since Monday we’ve been playing every day,” Leggett said. “We were ready to play Sunday—we somehow feel like we played Sunday too. We’ve been on the go every day since we got here. So I think tomorrow will be good for us, honestly. It’ll give us a little bit of rest.
“I feel very loose, very relaxed, very confident in our players right now. I think they can probably feel that.”