Bakich Era Starts Off ‘Wright’

CLEMSON, S.C. — Blake Wright became the first Clemson baseball player since 2007 to hit two home runs in a season-opener while Erik Bakich won his first game as the Tigers’ head coach.

Clemson used 11 hits and stole 11 bases in an 11-3 victory over Binghamton Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Doug Hogan hit two runs for the Tigers in their 14-0 season-opening win over George Mason back in 2007.

“I thought it was just a complete game and a great tone setter, not just for the weekend but for the season and the way we want Clemson baseball to look and feel,” Bakich said. “We really appreciate the crowd, the energy and a packed DKS. It was a lot of fun and just excited about Clemson baseball and the way we played today.”

The Tigers’ 11 stolen bases were the second most in a game in Clemson history. The record is 12, which the Tigers set against The Citadel on April 21, 1950.

“I had no idea what the stolen base record was until (Brian) Hennessey told me at the end of the game. I said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me sooner? We would have tried to steal a couple of more,'” Bakich said jokingly. “We did not set out to break any stolen base record. We saw, as the game went on, that was an opportunity. We were trying to get a big lead to see a pickoff move. We did not see any pickoff moves, so we started running.”

Offensively, I feel like it was a great dynamic combination of speed and power, and some fireworks with the home runs,” Bakich said. “Two, of course, by Blake. But the stolen bases, the extra nineties, applying pressure. I thought it was just a complete game.”

Wright, who finished the afternoon 4-for-4, is credited as the first player to record a hit in the Bakich era, as well, a solo home run to left centerfield with two outs in the bottom of the first. He later hit his second home run to start the bottom of the third inning.

“It’s awesome. It is awesome to be here and be back playing,” Wright said. “It was a great feeling to get the win. Let’s keep it going.”

The Clemson third baseman singled through the left side in the fourth inning to score Caden Grice for a 6-1 lead at the time, his third RBI of the game.

The Tigers (1-0) scored eight runs in the first four innings. Jack Crighton got an RBI single to score Benjamin Blackwell in the second. After Wright’s second home run, Chad Fairey doubled down the left line to score Cam Cannarella and Tyler Corbitt for a 5-1 lead.

After Clemson extended its lead to 8-1 with a three-run fourth inning, freshman Jacob Jarrell homered down the leftfield line in the bottom of the seventh inning for a two-run shot. It was his first career hit.   

In his first career start, Ryan Ammons had little trouble with Binghamton’s bats. The former closer pitched five solid innings, while giving up one run on three hits. He struck out nine batters and walked none.

The lefty sat Binghamton (0-1) down in order in four of the five innings he pitched. When he did get touched in third, he gave up a run on three straight hits, Ammons settled down and struck out the last two batters of the inning. He finished the inning with four straight strikes to retire the side.

“We knew he would find his way out of it,” Bakich said. “He doesn’t seem to be a kid that gets rattled. Even though he gave up a run, we knew he would respond.”

Stat of the game: With the win, Erik Bakich became the 12th baseball coach to win his first career game at Clemson. Clemson is now 12-15-1 all-time in season openers with a new head coach.

Injury update: Tyler Corbitt suffered a high-ankle sprain. Will Taylor, though he pinch hit and hit a double in the eighth inning, he is still sore and is not fully back. Catcher Cooper Ingle also missed the game, but Bakich says the junior will play in Game 2.

“They are all short-term stuff,” the Clemson coach said. “I don’t feel like there is anything that is going to hold anyone out long term.”

Player of the Game: Blake Wright had two home runs and drove in three runs on four hits. He also scored three times. He finished the afternoon 4-for-4 at the plate.

Key Moment: After Binghamton cut the Clemson lead to 2-1 in the top of third inning, Blake Wright started the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot to left centerfield. It was the first run in a three-run third to extend the Tigers’ lead to 5-1.

Up next: Clemson and Binghamton will play Game 2 of their three-game series at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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