Freshmen Lift Clemson Tigers over Binghamton

CLEMSON, S.C. — With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, freshman Cam Cannarella slid home on a wild pitch for what turned out to be the game-winning run, as Clemson rallied to beat Binghamton 3-2 in Game 2 of their three-game series Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

“Coach (Erik Bakich) was just telling me to be aggressive. If there is a wild pitch, just go, and I did that,” Cannarella said.

Fellow freshman Tristian Smith came on with two on and one out in the top of the ninth inning to earn the save. The Bearcats were able to drive one run home on a Tommy Reifler RBI, but Smith retired the side and ended the game with two strikeouts.  

As for Cannarella, earlier in the inning he lined a doubled to the corner in left field, allowing Caden Grice to come all the way home from second base for a 2-1 lead. The win allowed the Tigers to clinch the three-game series.

Clemson (2-0) beat the Bearcats 11-3 in the Game 1 on Friday to open the season.

“It was a completely different game today, and that is baseball,” Bakich said. “Credit to Binghamton’s pitcher (Gabe Driscoll). He pitched differently then maybe, I would not say than what we were expecting, he just did a good job of pitching backwards and really landing multiple pitches for strikes. A lot of off-speed mix and sticking the fastball in late.

“Those are tough guys, when they are locating, to try and manufacture (runs). We had five outs on the bases which is uncharacteristic for us. We like to be aggressive, but we try not to cross that line where we have careless mistakes on the bases. We had too many outs there.”

Clemson’s pitching kept the Tigers in the game. Starter Austin Gordon was efficient in the 5 2/3 innings he worked. He allowed five hits, while striking out two. His only mistake was a wild pitch in the sixth inning that allowed Binghamton to score the game’s first run.

“Luckily for us, though, the start that Austin Gordon had, coupled with our defense throughout the game and some timely hits late in the game by Caden Grice and Cam Cannarella, along with Cam’s aggressive play by tagging up to third base and then scoring on the wild pitch for the insurance run proved to be the difference,” Bakich said.

Relievers Jackson Lindley and Willie Weiss did not allow anything after Gordon left the game with two outs in the sixth inning. Weiss got two huge strikeouts in the top of the eighth inning to retire the side after Binghamton produced runners on first and second with one out.

The Bearcats (0-2) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Reifler came home on a wild pitch from Gordon. The left fielder opened the inning with a base hit through the right side. He later advanced to second on a sac bunt from Isaiah Corry and got to third on a bloop single to left center by Logan Haskell.

Clemson had two opportunities to tie the game or take the lead in the sixth or seventh innings. With runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth inning with one out in the bottom of the sixth, Blake Wright ripped what appeared to be an extra base hit to the leftfield corner. However, Reifler made a diving catch and then doubled up Cooper Ingle at second base to end the Clemson threat.

The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, but Riley Bertram hit into a force at second base to end the inning and another Clemson scoring opportunity.

“We thought that might be our last chance, but luckily we came back and got some big hits in the eighth inning,” Bakich said.

Running out of time, the Tigers finally got on the board and tied things up in the eighth inning. After Cooper Ingle walked to lead off the inning, Grice doubled to left field. Blake Wright then hit a flyball to center field to score Ingle from third, tying the game at 1-1.

From there, it was the Cannarella show, as his double tied the game and then he won it by scoring on the wild pitch moments later.

“We struggled at the beginning, and Coach brought us up together. He told us, we were going to have a big inning and we did have a big inning,” Cannarella said.   

Stat of the game: Clemson head Erik Bakich earned his second win at Clemson, but it marked his 400th career win as a college head coach.

Injury update: Outfielder Tyler Corbitt rested and did not play on Saturday due to a high ankle sprain he suffered in practice a few weeks back. Outfielder Will Taylor (knee) did not start for a second straight game, but he did come in as a pinch hitter for DH Tristan Bissetta in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Player of the Game: Cam Cannarella drove in the run to give Clemson a 2-1 lead and later scored the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Key Moment: With Caden Grice standing at second base with one out and the game tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Cam Cannarella ripped a double to the leftfield corner, allowing Grice to come home for a 2-1 lead.

Up next: Clemson and Binghamton will play Game 3 of their three-game series at noon on Sunday.

photo by Clemson Athletic Communications

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