CLEMSON- The Clemson Tigers (44-17) opened their NCAA Tournament regional round with a 12-5 win over the Lipscomb Bisons (36-25).
With the Tigers clinging to a three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth Billy Amick did what he has done all season–came up clutch. With the bases loaded and two outs, Amick unloaded on a ball and sent his second grand slam of the season to the top of the batting cages and gave Clemson a 12-5 lead.
Caden Grice got the Tigers on the board in the bottom of the first inning, as he belted a two-run home run, his 17th of the season, over the outfield stands to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The Bisons cut the Tiger lead in half in the top of the second inning, as two singles were sandwiched by a balk on starting pitcher Austin Gordon–who went 4.1 innings, and allowed four earned runs. They continued their work in the top of the third, as the Bisons plated another run on two hits– a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly–to tie the game 2-2.
The tie was short-lived, as the Tigers regained the lead in the bottom of the third inning. After back-to-back hit batters and a wild pitch gave the Tigers runners at second and third, Billy Amick flied out to right field and plated Will Taylor.
The Bisons took their first lead of the game in the top of the fifth inning after Caleb Ketchup and Alex Vergara hit back-to-back home runs that put the Bisons up 4-3 on the Tigers. The Bisons loaded the bases with two outs before Nick Clayton retired the third out via a fly ball to centerfield.
The Tigers answered in the bottom half of the fifth inning. After loading the bases, Grice’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 4-4. With runners at first and second, Riley Bertram laced a two out, double that scored two runs and gave Clemson a 6-4 lead.
The Bisons continued to battle, as Vergara connected on his 23rd home run of the season, second of the game, to cut the Tigers’ lead to 6-5.
The Tigers added an insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings. Bertram’s sacrifice bunt plated Grice from third and extended the lead to 7-5 in the seventh inning. Ingle’s single through the right side plated the eighth run for the Tigers. After three Tigers reached base, Amick followed with his grand slam to extend the lead to 12-5.
Nick Clayton (8-0) earned the win in relief by pitching 2.0 innings with four strikeouts. Bison starter Logan Van Treeck (8-5) suffered the loss, as he surrendered seven hits, six runs (four earned) and one walk with seven strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched.
Up Next: The Tigers move into the winner’s bracket and await the winner of the Tennessee-Charlotte game (6 pm), Saturday at 6 pm. The Bisons await the loser of the 6 pm game in the losers bracket game to be played Saturday at noon.
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