In his first career ACC start, Ethan Darden pitched five scoreless innings to help lead Clemson to a 8-1 win over Florida State and even up the weekend series at one game apiece. The freshman allowed just four hits, while striking out two and moving his record to 2-1 on the season.
The Tigers also got two scoreless innings of relief from freshman Tristan Smith, with Nick Hoffman coming on to pitch the final two frames, allowing a run in the ninth.
Conner Whitaker took the loss, dropping to 3-3, after going 7.2 innings and allowing four runs on eight hits. He struck out four and walked three.
Clemson struck first in the fourth when Blake Wright lined a two-out single to left to drive in Cooper Ingle and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers would extend the lead in the fifth when Wright laced a one-out RBI single to center, putting Clemson up 2-0. With runners on second and third and still only out, Riley Bertram laid down a squeeze bunt. Will Taylor beat the throw home. Florida State catcher Colton Vincent then threw Bertram out at first, while Wright came around to score from second to push the lead to 4-0. Wright was originally called out, but replay overturned the call.
Caden Grice would make it 5-0 in the eighth with a one-out RBI double that one-hopped the left-field wall, his second hit of the game. Wright would follow that up with an RBI single to center to drive in Grice and make it 6-0. Wright would eventually come around to score on a wild pitch, giving the Tigers a seven run cushion.
Cam Cannarella launched out solo homer out to right in the ninth for the final margin. It was the freshman’s third long ball of the season.
Player of the Game: Wright led the way at the plate for Clemson, going 3-for-4 on the night with a walk and driving in three runs. He also scored a run on the hustle play in the fifth. Wright now has 24 RBI on the season.
Key Moment: After Clemson had just grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, the Seminoles threatened to respond in the bottom half of the inning when Cam Smith doubled off the right-field wall to lead off the frame. He was then bunted over to third. After a meeting at the mound, Wright pulled off the old hidden ball trick and tagged Smith out when he took a step off of third base to keep Florida State off the scoreboard. It felt like a big momentum changer for Clemson and the pendulum never swung back towards the Noles.
Stat of the Game: Clemson hitters took advantage of their opportunities on Friday, going 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Up Next: The series concludes on Saturday at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee. Due to forecasted inclement weather, first pitch has been moved up to 11 a.m. and will be streamed on ACCNX.
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