CLEMSON, S.C.- The Tigers made a furious comeback in the bottom of the ninth, plating three runs, but the rally would fall just short, as Wake Forest held on for a 6-5 win, sweeping Clemson for the first time since 2012.
Entering the ninth down three, the Tigers got a solo home run from Caden Grice and a pinch hit double from Jacob Jarrell that drove in two that cut the lead to 6-5. With two on and two out, Cooper Ingle would line out to left, to end the rally and the game.
“Disappointing. Feels like we’re right there, we’re so close,” head coach Erik Bakich said. “We’re gonna ger there. We’re gonna get over the hump. We’ve got too much fight, too much grit. You guys see it every game.”
“I think everyone that shows up to the ballpark knows that we are going to play as hard as we can for 27 outs.”
Josh Hartle went seven strong for the second-ranked Deacons, scattering five hits and allowing just one earned run as he moves to 6-1 on the season. The lefty struck out eight and walked just one and lowered his ERA on the season to 1.71.
“To see how close this weekend was to a series win rather than getting swept,” Bakich said. “But that is the margin in conferences like this.”
The Tigers got on the board first, manufacturing a run in the third. Billy Amick singled to open the frame and moved to second on a Chad Fairey sacrifice bunt. After a balk on Hartle moved him to third, freshman Cam Cannarella poked a single by a drawn in infield to give Clemson a 1-0 lead.
Wake would come right back in the fourth and take the lead with the benefit of just one base hit. After Grice issued back-to-back walks, Pierce Bennett doubled down the third base line, driving both runners in and giving the Deacs a 2-1 lead.
The Demon Deacons would add to the lead in the fifth, as Nick Kurtz ripped a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right-center, driving in Marek Houston, who led off the inning with a walk.
In the sixth, Clemson reliever Rocco Reid hit Bennett Lee to lead off the inning. Justin Johnson then singled, putting runners at the corners, with nobody out. Reid then got Chris Katz to hit into a double play, but Lee would score, putting Wake up by three runs.
An RBI double by Lucas Costello extended the lead to 5-1 in the seventh, and Wake would add an unearned run in the ninth.
Grice got the start for the Tigers, allowing just two hits in five innings of work, while striking out eight. At one point he struck out six consecutive hitters. However, he also walked five and allowed three earned runs.
“Caden pitched really well,” Bakich said. “He’s carrying us, just what he’s doing with the bat, what he is doing on the mound. He’s just doing awesome. Every time he takes the mound, every time he gets the bat, you just feel like good things are going to happen.”
“He is the reason we even had a shot to win this game.”
The win gives the No. 2 Demon Deacons (26-3, 10-2) a three-game sweep of the Tigers for the first time since 2012 and extends the team’s winning streak to eight games. Clemson falls to 16-13 overall and just 2-7 in ACC play.
Player of the Game: On top of his pitching performance, Grice went 2-for-4 at the plate, scoring a run and driving one in, including his seventh long ball of the season.
Key Moment: After Jarrell drove in two with a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth to cut the lead to 6-5, Cannarella drew a walk putting the tying run on second and the winning run on first. Ingle came to the plate and put a good swing on the ball, but he lined it right at the Wake Forest left-fielder, ending the game.
Stat of the Game: Free passes have been an issue at times for Clemson pitching this season, particularly the hit by pitch variety. The Tigers walked six hitters in this one and hit two more. On the season, the staff has now hit a total of 33 hitters in 29 innings.
Up Next: Clemson will host No. 19 Coastal Carolina on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. with television coverage provided by ACCNX.
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