Clemson In Control

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.–Clemson’s much-maligned offense came through in a big way today against top-seeded Coastal Carolina, hammering out 16 hits in an 11-8 win. The Tigers got a big day from senior first baseman Andy D’Alessio, who went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and four RBIs, but the big blow came from senior third baseman Marquez Smith, who crushed a David Anderson fastball to left field for a three-run homer in the eighth inning, turning a 7-6 game into a 10-6 affair.

“Right before my at-bat, (D’Alessio) came up to me and put his arm around me and said, ‘Just use your hands, and have lots of confidence,'” Smith said.

That sort of thing is why Clemson looks to be in good shape to make a postseason run–there is a lot of experience on this team, and the veterans are true leaders. Clemson coach Jack Leggett said D’Alessio rallied the whole team in a meeting before the game, and then he led by example with his bat.

“We have a lot of experience on the team, and that definitely helps in the long run,” D’Alessio said. “I’d say that game was one of the most emotional games I’ve ever been a part of.”

And this program is used to winning emotional games, having played in regionals for 21 straight years and gone to the College World Series last year. That might have been a factor today–for Coastal Carolina, this was the biggest game in program history, as coach Gary Gilmore admitted beforehand. For Clemson, it was a big game, but that’s nothing new.

The Tigers are also in good shape on the mound. D.J. Mitchell is fresh and ready to pitch tomorrow against the winner of this evening’s Coastal-St. John’s elimination game. Righty P.J. Zocchi still hasn’t pitched, so he can go if the Tigers get pushed to a fourth game, or he can be used in relief. Lefty Ryan Hinson pitched well for 1 2/3 innings of relief today, but he can likely come back tomorrow, as can closer Stephen Clyne. Clemson is in the driver’s seat, and the Tigers might end up hosting a super-regional if Mississippi State can knock off Florida State tonight.