CLEMSON — Clemson’s Ally Miklesh came home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift No. 3 Clemson to a 2-1 victory over sixth-seeded North Carolina Thursday at Melissa Cook Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
The win advanced the Tigers to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, where they will take on No. 2 seed Duke Friday at 1:30 p.m.
Miklesh did it all for Clemson in the eighth inning. The left fielder started the inning off with a double to left centerfield before advancing to third on a passed ball after the Tar Heels intentionally walked ACC Player of the Year Valerie Cagle.
Miklesh then came home with the winning run when after Lilli Backes’ second pitch to Caroline Jacobsen went into the dirt and got away from catcher Isabela Emerling. Miklesh slid home, easily beating Backes’ tag. All of it came with no outs.
“She has had a great year, all year. She stepped up today and was really big for us,” Cagle said of Miklesh’s play. “She did not try to do too much with her at-bats and she let her game work, which is what we need right now.”
Miklesh, who finished the night 2-for-3 with an RBI to go along with her double, might have been the hero Thursday night in South Bend, but Cagle was the star. The righty was dominant in the circle, as she went the distance while striking out 12 batters and allowing just three hits and one walk.
Cagle’s 12 strikeouts were a season-high for the junior.
“I would say for the first time this year, everything was working for me in the circle,” Cagle said on the ACC Network following the game. “But I also had great defense behind me and JoJo (Hyatt) did a great job behind the plate, which allowed me to throw my pitches.”
Backes held her own against Cagle. She kept the Clemson offense at-bay all night, limiting the Tigers to four hits and one earned run. She recorded seven strikeouts and walked four while throwing 122 pitches.
Clemson (46-8, 18-6 ACC) pushed the game’s first run across the plate in the bottom of the third when Miklesh got a two-out single up the middle to score Ansley Houston, who was pinch running for Hyatt.
The Tar Heels (26-28, 13-10 ACC) evened things up in the top of the fourth after Skyler Brooks got a two-out infield single off Cagle and Abby Settlemyre beat the throw home from first base.
–photo courtesy of ACC Communications
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