Clemson's season came to an end on Saturday night dropping a 10-8 heart breaker to the 4th seeded Pepperdine Waves in the Fullerton Regional. It has been the same story all season for the Tigers as the bullpen failed to hold another late inning lead. Clemson was sent to the loser bracket after a 7-4 loss to Arizona State the night before and sent Junior left-hander Zack Erwin with the season on the line in a win or go home situation.
Erwin didn't have his sharpest stuff in the do or die situation as Pepperdine jumped on the board early in the first inning. Erwin gave up 4 hits and threw 26 pitches in the first inning allowing 3 runs (2 earned) to put Clemson in the early hole. Erwin dug himself into a bigger hole when he allowed a 2nd inning home run to Chris Fornaci extending the Pepperdine lead to 4-0.
Erwin would calm down and the Clemson offense would fail to get anything going against Pepperdine starter A.J.Puckett until the sixth inning when both teams started swinging the bats. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Pepperdine started the onslaught. A routine grounder to Zack Erwin went awry when the throw to first base pulled first baseman Andrew Cox off of the bag putting runners on first and third with nobody out. An RBI Sacrifice Fly from Nick Costello extended the led to 5-0 and chased Erwin after 5.1 innings. Charlie Barnes entered and promptly gave up a 2 RBI double to Hutton Moyer to extend the lead to 7-0.
With their backs against the wall, Clemson came out swinging in the bottom of the 6th. Steven Duggar lead off the inning with a single before Tyler Krieger doubled down the left field line to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Designated Hitter Robert Jolly sent a hard grounder to third base that hit the lip of the infield and jumped over the third baseman's head scoring both Duggar and Krieger to get Clemson on the board.
The Tigers finally blew the doors open in the bottom of the 7th. Andrew Cox led off the bottom of the inning with a single followed by a double by Eli White. After a walk by Steven Duggar loaded the bases with nobody out, Tyler Krieger came through once again with a 2 RBI single, cutting the lead to 7-4. After advancing to second on the throw home, Chris Okey finally delivered with a 2 RBI single cutting the lead to 1 and making it 7 to 6. After Weston Wilson lined out to center field, Clemson took their first lead after Tyler Slaton laced a 2 RBI triple to deep right field to put Clemson ahead for the first time of the day 8-7.
For Clemson, the lead would last less than five minutes. Pat Krall entered the game and promptly allowed a leadoff double. The 8-7 lead disappeared 2 batters later after an RBI single tied the game at 8. After escaping the inning only allowing 1 run, Krall returned in the 9th inning and walked the leadoff hitter. Pepperdine shortstop Manny Jefferson would turn to lay down the sacrifice bunt, but pulled back and slapped a double down the left field line. The throw into the infield would hit the runner at third and squirt away allowing Pepperdine to take the lead 9-8.
Pepperdine would add an insurance run in the top of the 9th and Clemson would go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th to end the inning, game and their season. Closer Max Gamboa earned the win for the Pepperdine Waves pitching 2.1 innings and allowing no earned runs. Pat Krall took the loss for the Tigers allowing 3 earned runs in only 1.1 innings. The Tigers went 0-2 in an NCAA regional for the 2nd year in a row and were eliminated by the 4 seed for the second year in a row after being eliminated by Xavier in the Nashville Regional last year. The University's attention will now turn toward the head coaching situation and the future of long time coach Jack Leggett. Stay tuned to Shakin the Southland for more information in the days to come.