May 25, 2001
Clemson, SC - Chris Carter drove in three runs with a second-inning double and starting pitcher B.J. Benik allowed just two runs in eight innings leading #4 seed Seton Hall to a 7-2 victory over #1 seed South Alabama in the first game of the 2001 Clemson Regional at Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, SC.
Seton Hall, tournament champions of the Big East Conference, improved to 33-21-1 for the season, while South Alabama, champions of the Sun Belt Conference, fell to 44-18. South Alabama now moves into the losers bracket and will play the loser of the tonight's Clemson vs. William & Mary game at 11,00 AM Saturday. Seton Hall will face the winner of the Clemson vs. William & Mary game Saturday at 3:00 PM.
Seton Hall started the season by losing seven of its first eight games, but has now won six in a row, including four in postseason play. Seton Hall entered the final weekend of the Big East conference regular season race in fifth place and was in danger of not even qualifying for its conference tournament. Now the Pirates have upset the number-one seed in an NCAA regional. The team is being coached by interim head coach Rob Sheppard, son of head coach Mike Sheppard, who has missed the entire season after undergoing triple bypass heart surgery on February 27th.
Seton Hall wasted little time in getting on the board. In the top of the second, Adam Arslanian and Kevin Leighton earned consecutive one-out walks. Josh Schuck then singled to load the bases. With two out, shortstop Chris Carter, the number-nine man in the batting order, and a .245 hitter with just four doubles all year, picked a great time to pick up his fifth double. The hit up the alley in right center off Seton Hall starter and loser Clark Girardeau plated all three runs.
Seton Hall came back in the bottom of the second. With one out, Warren Hanna singled up the middle. He then moved all the way to third when Seton Hall third baseman Joe Scott fielded Brett Parker's ground ball, but threw wild at second base. That set up a second-and-third situation. Scott Calahan, South Alabama's number-nine man in the order, then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score the Jaguars first run of the game.
South Alabama made the contest a one-run game n the bottom of the fourth. Hanna again started the uprising with a single to center. One out later Calahan struck again, this time with a double down the right field line. Through the first seven innings of the game all five runs scored between the two teams were driven in by the number-nine batter in the order.
Both starting pitchers settled down for the next few innings. It remained a one-run game until the top of the eighth when Seton Hall scored four runs, thanks for the most part to three South Alabama errors. The Jaguars ended the game with five errors, equaling a season high.
With one out, Casey Grimm reached on an error by Girardeau. Brian Leighton followed with a single and Grimm moved to third on a throwing error by South Alabama right fielder Erik Smallwood. Arslanian then followed with a single to score Grimm. Kevin Leighton and Josh Schuck followed with a pair of walks, the second of which forced in another run. Scott then hit a ground ball to second, but Scott Calahan's throw was errant and two more runs scored, giving Seton Hall a 7-2 lead.
Benik allowed just one hit in the eighth and Pirate closer Isaac Pavlik allowed just one hit in the ninth, sending Seton Hall to the winner's bracket.
Benik pitched eight innings and allowed just two runs, just one of which was earned. He struck out five in raising his record to 5-7 for the season. Girardeau, the team leader in wins for South Alabama, fell to 10-4 for the season.
Carter had just the one hit for Seton Hall, but he had a team best three RBIs. Brian Leighton had two hits and a walk, wile Kevin Leighton had a double and two walks and scored two runs. South Alabama was led at the plate by Calahan, who had a 3 for 3 night and two RBIs. Leadoff man Cameron Likely had two hits and a sacrifice. Warren Hanna also had three hits and scored both runs.