CLEMSON – Sophomore designated hitter Jeff Schaus instantly raised both arms in the air, easing Clemson coach Jack Leggett’s initial trepidation of whether it would be long enough.
Schaus blasted a two-out, walk-off grand slam Tuesday night to vault the seemingly dead-in-the-water Tigers past Coastal Carolina 5-3 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
It marked just the second walk-off grand slam in program history, behind Tyler Colvin’s memorable game-winner in the 2006 NCAA super regional series against Oral Roberts.
“He knew I was coming at him,” Chanticleers closer Nick McCully said. “I knew I was going after him. He sat right on it. It was right down the middle, and he hit it 350 feet.”
It salvaged what was shaping into a disastrous letdown for the Tigers (27-14) heading into tonight’s game at USC, followed by a home weekend series against No. 7 Georgia Tech. Clemson also extended its series win streak against the Chanticleers (30-10) to seven in a row.
The game had been tied at 1 when Coastal Carolina pushed ahead in the eighth on a then-dramatic two-out homer by third baseman Tyler Bortnick off Clemson reliever Ryan Hinson.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Clemson freshman shortstop Brad Miller generated a walk off McCully, and senior third baseman Matt Sanders followed with a single.
Pinch-hitter Chris Epps then fouled off three two-strike pitches before walking to load the bases.
“They were dead and beaten,” Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said. “The two walks enabled them to stay in the ball game. If you don’t walk those guys, there’s no way they beat us.”
Outfielder Addison Johnson, the team’s No. 9 hitter, struck out, setting the stage for Schaus – who had notched just one of his eight career homers at home.
Schaus got a first-pitch fastball in his wheelhouse, and pulled the no-doubt shot beyond the right-field seating.
“He made a mistake there,” Schaus. “He left it in and I was kind of sitting there. I just turned my back foot and got all barrel.
Said Leggett: “We had some good things happen to get ourselves to that point. So those things come back to help you at times, and hopefully it will catapult us into some good wins the rest of the week.
Scott Weismann, a freshman reliever who has made two appearances the last month since experiencing shoulder stiffness, is slated to start tonight’s game.
Weismann has allowed one run and nine hits in 10 2/3 innings this season.
… Senior righty Trey Delk (bulging disc in his back) has been cleared to return to the mound and could start Sunday. Delk hasn’t pitched since March 20.