CLEMSON- Clemson plated three runs in the seventh on just one hit, as the Tigers downed Louisville 4-3 on Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium to clinch their fifth consecutive ACC series.
Austin Gordon pitched six strong innings, holding the Cardinals scoreless, while allowing just one hit. It is the fewest hits the sophomore has allowed in any start lasting longer than three innings. He also struck out five hitters and issued just one walk.
“Great battle, great ballgame,” head coach Erik Bakich said. “Awesome start from Austin Gordon. Six scoreless, one walk, one hit. He was really the difference maker, THE difference maker the first six innings, holding down a really good offense.”
With the win, Clemson moves to 30-17 overall and 13-10 in ACC play. The Tigers are 11-2 in their last 13 ACC games and have won 14 of 18 overall. Louisville falls to 25-17 and 9-14.
After loading the bases and failing to score in the third, the Tigers would finally get on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Riley Bertram singled to lead off the inning, then moved to second on a fielder’s choice. After stealing third, his second stolen base of the game, Bertram would come around to score on a wild pitch, giving Clemson a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals would tie it up in the seventh on a solo home run by Ryan McCoy off of Nick Clayton. It was McCoy’s 11th homer of the season.
In the bottom half of the inning, Clemson would load the bases with nobody out. Jack Crighton drew a walk to start the inning. Cam Cannarella then singled putting runners on the corners with no outs. Cooper Ingle then worked a walk, loading the bases. Will Taylor and Caden Grice then drew back-to-back walks, forcing in two runs and giving the Tigers a two run lead. A Billy Amick sacrifice fly would then put Clemson up by three runs at 4-1.
Louisville would come right back in the eighth, loading the bases against Clayton with just one out. Freshman Tristan Smith would then come on in relief and walk the first batter he faced, making it 4-2 Clemson. Smith then got McCoy, who had homered earlier, to hit into a fielder’s choice, but another run would score, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 4-3. Smith would then get a weak fly ball out to escape any further damage.
Rob Hughes would come on to get the final three outs in the ninth to clinch it, recording his first save as a Tiger.
“It’s a testament to their toughness and their high level of compete,” Bakich said. “That’s what we needed. We played out best defense at the end when we needed it. Guys just picking each other up, playing food baseball. Happy but not satisfied.”
Player of the Game: Saturday was arguably the best start of Gordon’s career. Holding a very good hitting Louisville team scoreless and to just one hit is not an easy feat.
Stat of the Game: After going just 2-of-11 with runners in scoring position in the series opener, the Tigers struggled again in Game 2, going just 1-for-12.
Up Next: These same two teams will face off again once more on Sunday in the third and final game of the weekend series. First pitch is scheduled for noon, as the Tigers go for the sweep.
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