CLEMSON — Billy Amick had a home run and drove in three runs all together, while Cam Cannarella and Will Taylor each had three hits as No. 18 Clemson downed 22-ranked Louisville, 6-3, Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The Tigers also got a solid pitching performance from starter Ethan Darden and have now won 13 of their last 17 games. Since April 6, the Tigers are 10-3 in ACC play.
Clemson (29-17, 12-10 ACC) tied the game at 3-3 with Amick’s two-run shot to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning and then grabbed the lead for good with a three-run seventh inning.
Louisville took a 1-0 lead in the third after JT Benson ripped a two-out double to right field, scoring Logan Beard from third base.
The Tigers matched the Cardinals in the bottom of the fourth inning when Will Taylor scored on a muffed throw on a double-play ball from the first baseman. Taylor singled to left field to open the Clemson half of the fourth.
“Obviously, it was a big win. Louisville is a very good team, as they always are every year,” Clemson head coach Erik Bakich said. “They play tough and don’t give you anything.
“We needed a quality start, and we got one from Ethan Darden. He pitched six very good innings.”
Things remained tied until the top of the sixth inning when Louisville’s Brandon Anderson launched a two-run bomb to left field on a 1-2 offering from Darden.
“It was kind of a grind it out offensive day,” Bakich said. “We had fifteen hits, but it felt like we left a lot of runs on the table.”
Clemson answered right back in its half of the sixth inning when Billy Amick homered to left field on the first pitch from starter Ryan Hawks. Amick’s home run scored Caden Grice, who started the inning with a drawn walk.
It appeared Clemson took its first lead earlier in the game when Bertram avoided the tag of Louisville catcher Ryan McCoy on a wild pitch that bounced out in front of the plate. However, replay overturned the play, as the umpires determined McCoy did in fact make the tag.
It marked the third time in the game where aggressive base running cost the Tigers. In the fifth inning, Benjamin Blackwell was thrown out at home plate when Cam Cannarella hit a fielder’s choice to second base. Cannarella was later caught off third base after he slipped rounding third after Will Taylor’s infield single.
But none of that mattered in the end.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Clemson loaded the bases on a hit up the middle and back-to-back infield hits, including a perfectly placed bunt by Cooper Ingle. Taylor then walked to score Jack Crighton and Grice was hit by a pitch, plating Cannarella for a 5-3 lead.
Amick then drove in his third run of the afternoon with deep flyball to left, scoring Ingle for a 6-3 advantage.
Stat of the Game: The Tigers won the game despite being 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They finished the afternoon with 15 hits.
Player of the Game: Clemson starter Ethan Darden pitched his best game of the year. The freshman tied his career-high with six innings of work, while giving up just three runs on three hits. He struck out seven batters and walked four. He did not get the win, but his pitching kept the Tigers in the game until they pulled away in the seventh inning.
“There are going to be times when we don’t cash in and we don’t get the run in and we don’t get the hit,” Bakich said. “But there is this belief that the next guy will pick him up or we will do it the next inning or whatever. It is a good feeling. The guys have it right now. They are confident. It is good to see.”
Key Moment: After Louisville took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning, the Tigers came right back, as Grice led off the Tigers’ sixth with a walk and then Amick launched a bomb to left field to tie the game.
Up Next: Clemson will play Louisville at 2 p.m. Saturday in Game 2 of the three-game series.