Gordon’s Pitching Sends Clemson to ACC Semis

DURHAM, N.C. — Luckily for sixth-ranked Clemson, Boston College head coach Mike Gambino started Chris Flynn instead of John West in Game 10 of the ACC Championships Friday.

With Flynn pitching the first two innings, the Tigers got three hits, including Caden Grice’s two-run home run in the first inning. The other two hits were doubles by Cam Cannarella and Jack Crighton as they jumped out to a four-run lead by the end of the second inning.

At that point, Gambino came to grips with his mistake and replaced Flynn with West, who went six innings and allowed one-run on two hits against Clemson on April 28. Coincidently, it was the last time Clemson lost a game, as the Tigers have won 14 straight since.

But it was a little too late for the Eagles as West and Clemson starter Austin Gordon duked it out on the mound. In the end, the Tigers’ four runs proved to be enough as they advanced to the ACC Semifinals with a 4-1 victory at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham.

“We talked about (starting West) a little bit, but Flynn has been awesome all year,” Gambino said. “We are not in this spot if it was not for Flynn. So, in some ways it was just a matter of which way we ere going with them and West just came out of the bullpen. Flynn has been playing all year, so the thought was to keep Flynn in his routine and then turned over to West.”

Like he did in April, West shut Clemson down. He allowed just one hit in 5 2/3 innings of work, while striking out seven and walking one.

“We knew they were starting Flynn, so our scouting meeting was all about Flynn and then we figured we would see West at some point,” Clemson head coach Erik Bakich said. “But Flynn is really good too. He has good reduced vertical break on his fastball and you have to do a good job as a hitter to push it down because if you chase it up he is going to have success all day long. He has a good slider and a good curveball.

“So, he has really good stuff, that is why we were fortunate to get him early. John West, we still don’t have the answer for that one.”

However, Gordon was just as effective. The righty did not allow a run in six innings of work and gave up just two hits. It marked the third time this season Gordon pitched longer than four innings and did not allow a run.

“Austin Gordon today was really, really good,” Gambino said. “We were able to get him for a couple at our place earlier. But he gave us fits at our place once and then he did it again. That kid is good.”

Nick Clayton, Rob Hughes and Reed Garris came on in relief to finish what Gordon started. Ryan Ammons came in with one out in the ninth inning to get the save.

Clemson (41-17) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs and Cannarella on third, Grice launched a two-run offering from starter Chris Flynn to right field for a 2-0 lead. Cannarella led off the Clemson half of the first with a double off the wall in leftfield.

The Tigers extended their lead in the second. After Riley Bertram and Benjamin Blackwell reached on walks, Jack Crighton doubled down the right field line with one out to bring both runners home for a 4-0 advantage.

“I am going to tell you what, that Clemson ballclub…we have some really good ballclubs in this conference, obviously, and they are right there with anybody in the country,” Gambino said.

Stat of the Game: Clemson got three hits in the first two innings, but managed just one the rest of the game and that was a slow roller to shortstop.

Injury: Clemson pitcher Rob Hughes left the game in the eighth inning with two outs after complaining about back pain.

Player of the Game: Gordon did not allow a run in six innings of work and gave up just two hits. It marked the third time this season that Gordon pitched longer than four innings and did not allow a run.

Key Moment: Grice launched a two-run bomb to right field with two outs in the bottom of the first to give the Tigers all the runs they would need.

Up Next: Clemson will play North Carolina in the ACC Semifinals on Saturday at 5 p.m. Wake Forest will play Miami in the other semifinal at 1 p.m.

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