(Clemson, SC) – Despite brilliant relief by Matt Fitton (Lebanon, CT) and one of the most sensational catches of the year by Dave Boisture, the #4 Sacred Heart Pioneers lost to the #1 Clemson Tigers at the NCAA Baseball Regionals at Doug Kingsmore Stadium Friday night before 5,194. With the loss to the hosts, the Pioneers take on the UCONN Huskies Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in day two of the double-elimination regional.
The Tigers, ranked as high as #12 in the nation, scored four runs in the first beginning with an RBI fielder's choice by Brad Miller. Clemson added three more with a couple of two-out hits. Jeff Schaus singled to center to drive in the second run, although Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) nearly ended the inning with a throw to third attempting to nab Will Lamb going first to third. He was ruled safe on a very close play, and Chris Epps followed with a two run single.
Clemson added a run in the second on an RBI groundout by Phil Pohl, then exploded for six runs in the third to break the game open. Epps, Jason Stolt, and Spencer Kieboom knocked consecutive RBI singles, bringing on Fitton for relief. His first pitch was knocked out of the park for a long three-run homerun to right by John Hinson, however he would only give up that one earned run the rest of the way. Fitton went 5.2 innings out of the bullpen, scattering five hits and three walks with two strikeouts and holding the Tigers scoreless the rest of the night.
In the third, Boisture timed an opposite field drive to right by Richie Schaffer, the Tigers' homerun leader with 11 this season, for a leaping homerun-robbing catch that brought even some Clemson fans to their feet.
However, the Pioneers had little else to celebrate on this night, and now turn their focus to the Connecticut Huskies, who lost earlier in the day to Coastal Carolina 13-1. The Pioneers must win against UCONN, who they beat 5-4 on March 15, to extend their NCAA Tournament run to Sunday.
Photo Courtesy of Mark Crammer