Clemson hitters pounded out 20 hits as the No. 16 Tigers blew by Virginia Tech 15-4 on Friday in Blacksburg. It was the program’s sixth straight win and its 12th in the past 13 games.
It was the most hits for the program since they totaled 21 in a win over Binghamton back on February 19 of the 2021 season, as every hitter but one in the starting lineup had multiple base hits.
Riley Bertram was 4-for-5 and Billy Amick went 3-for-4 to pace an offense that exploded to overcome an early three run deficit.
Will Taylor’s solo home run in the first gave the Tigers an early lead, but it wouldn’t last long, as the Hokies responded in the bottom half of the inning, plating three runs off freshman starter Ethan Darden. Carson Jones hit a 2-run shot down the left-field line after Darden walked the leadoff hitter and Carson DeMartini would later drive in another run to give Virginia Tech an early 3-1 lead.
The Hokies would extend the lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth after reliever Jackson Lindley uncorked a wild pitch with runners on the corners and two outs.
But the Tigers would come roaring back in the fifth, as Clemson would bat around and plate eight runs on nine base hits.
After Blake Wright and Benjamin Blackwell led off the inning with back-to-back singles, freshman Jack Crighton laid down a sacrifice bunt, putting runners at second and third with one out. Cam Cannarella then laced the first pitch he saw into the gap in left-center, driving in both runners to make it 4-3. Cannarella would then come around to score on a two-out single by Taylor to tie it at 4-4.
Caden Grice then singled, putting two on with two out. Amick would drive both in with a double down the left-field line, putting the Tigers up 6-4. Bertram would then drive Amick in with a double and Wright’s second single of the inning would drive in Bertram. Blackwell would then knock in his second run of the inning with his second hit of the inning, giving Clemson a 9-4 lead.
Cannarella would lead off the sixth with an opposite field solo shot to extend the lead to 10-4. It was the freshman’s fifth home run of the season. In the seventh, with runners on second and third and nobody out, the Tigers executed a squeeze play to perfection, as Blackwell bunted one back to the pitcher. The throw to first was dropped, allowing both runners to score and give Clemson a 12-4 advantage. Blackwell would eventually come around to score on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Cannarella, making it 13-4.
Amick and Bertram would both drive in runs in the eighth to push the lead to 15-4.
With the win Clemson moves to 33-17 overall and 15-10 in the ACC. The Hokies fall to 29-16 and 11-13.
Player of the Game: Hard to not go with Cannarella here. The freshman was 2-for-5 at the plate, driving in four runs and scoring two more. His 2-run double in the fifth kickstarted the offensive explosion and his solo home run in the sixth provided what looked like at the time some much needed insurance. Cannarella also added a highlight reel play in the bottom of the seventh when he made a diving catch, robbing DeMartini of extra bases.
Honorable mention goes to the Clemson bullpen. After Darden did not make it out of the second inning, Casey Tallent, Jackson Lindley, Reed Garris, Ty Olenchuk, Rocco Reid and Jay Dill combined to hold the Hokies to just one run over the final 7.2 innings.
Key Moment: With a runner on first and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Clemson brought in reliever Reed Garris. Garris would walk the first two hitters he faced, loading the bases. However, Garris would come back to strike out Jack Garris swinging to get out of the jam.
Stats of the Game: The bats were working all game long. The Tigers were 20-of-42 at the plate as a team and were an eye-popping 7-of-12 with runners in scoring position. The team also had seven two-out hits in the contest.
Up Next: The same two teams will do battle again on Saturday in the second game of the weekend series. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on the ACCN.
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