By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — Clemson’s David Haselden saved his best performance for last at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Playing in quite possibly his last home game at Clemson, the senior had a career outing, pitching 7.2 innings, while allowing only two runs in the Tigers’ 9-2 victory over Furman on Tuesday. The righty struck out five Paladins while setting a season-high for the team in innings pitched.
He closed his night by striking out Furman’s Harrison Farmer to record the second out of the eighth inning. It was his 123rd pitch. Clemson head coach Jack Leggett pulled him after that, allowing him to leave Doug Kingsmore Stadium to the cheers of 3,769 orange-clad fans.
“The last four years went quick, but it felt good,” Haselden said. “I wanted to have a quicker game obviously because the pitch count got up there a lot, but it was good to end it on my terms with a strikeout right at the end and walk out in front of the home crowd. That was a good feeling.”
Dominic Leone held the previous high for Clemson with 7.1 innings against N.C. State on April 14.
“That was a nice outing for him,” Leggett said of Haselden. “I thought we played good defense behind him. He was really working the strike zone.”
Haselden’s previous high was seven innings against Coastal Carolina in April of 2011. He went five innings in a 16-4 Clemson victory on March 7 of this year. Before Tuesday’s effort, he threw six scoreless innings in relief in the Tigers’ comeback victory over Tennessee Tech on May 8.
“Hopefully his confidence level is creating some momentum for him, and he is feeling good about himself,” Leggett said. “This is a good time to feel good.”
The night started like it was going to be a special night for Furman rather than Haselden. The Paladins grabbed a 2-0 lead through two innings after getting five hits off the senior, including a double and an RBI from right fielder Jake Jones.
But Haselden settled down after that, shutting out Furman over the next 5.2 innings, while only allowing three hits.
“I worked on a couple of mechanical things, but it is more about just going out there and pitching instead of worrying about working on mechanics when I’m out there,” he said. “I’m just trying to go compete. Tonight I felt like I did a pretty good job of that.”
Haselden’s outing comes at a good time for the Clemson pitching staff. With the Tigers playing six games in six days, plus the bullpen being shorthanded due to injuries to Kevin Brady (hamstring) and Matt Campbell (lat muscle), it was imperative that Haselden give a good outing.
“He needs to step up for us down the stretch. We need to get good innings from him,” Leggett said. “He has some experience for us. He is one of those guys we are going to count on heavily down the stretch here. He has to step up for us.”
The Tigers, who have won 20 of their last 29 outings, took control of the game in the bottom of the third when they scored five runs off four hits and a Furman error. The biggest of those four hits was Phil Pohl’s three-run bomb down the left field line, which just cleared the foul pole.
“It feels good to go out like that,” said Pohl, who was also playing in his final game. “I have had a lot of great moments and great memories on this field so to go out with a win like that, that was awesome.”
Jon McGibbon made the score 6-2 in the fourth with a solo home run to right field, which cleared the “Cajun Café.” Richie Shaffer then scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to five runs before Clemson picked up two more in the seventh to put the game away with a 9-2 lead.
In the ninth inning, Leggett, pulled each of his seniors one-by-one, including Pohl, who tipped his hat to the crowd as they gave him a standing ovation.
“It’s hard to describe,” he said. “I never would have imagined I had that many people cheering for me. It was an amazing feeling.”