CLEMSON, S.C.- UCF scored two runs in the top of the ninth to give the Knights (4-1) a 4-2 win over Clemson in the conclusion of Friday’s suspended series opener, handing the Tigers (4-1) their first loss of the season.
The game originally started on Friday, but due to rain in the area, it was ultimately suspended in the top of the ninth with the score tied at 2-2 and UCF having runners on first and second with nobody out.
A wild pitch from reliever Jackson Lindley after the game restarted would allow runners to advance to second and third. Lindley (0-1) then struck out John Rhys Plummer for the first out of the inning, which prompted Erik Bakich to go to the bullpen and bring in freshman Tristan Smith. UCFs Nick Romano laced a 2-2 pitch into left, driving in a run and giving the Knights a 3-2 lead.
Smith would hit the next hitter, loading the bases with one out, before striking out Ben McCabe for out number two. However, Smith would then hit his second batter of the inning, forcing in another run and giving UCF the two-run lead.
The Tigers would go in order in the ninth, as Will Taylor struck out looking, Nathan Hall grounded out and Riley Bertram struck out looking.
Clemson pitching scattered just seven hits, while striking out 18, but also issued five walks, as well as the two hit batsmen. At the plate, the Tigers mustered just seven hits total, while going 2-8 with runners in scoring position.
The Tigers once again got a strong start from Ryan Ammons, as the left-hander allowed just two runs on three hits, while striking out a career-high 10 batters in five innings of work.
UCF got the scoring started off early, plating two runs in the second. The Tigers answered with a run in the bottom of the third as Blake Wright stole home, then would tie it at 2-2 in the fifth, on an RBI single by freshman Cam Cannarella.
Player of the Game: Despite allowing two runs in the second, Ammons’ strong outing gave the Tigers a chance in a game in which they just couldn’t muster any offense. Ammons now has 19 strikeouts on the season, in just 10 innings of work.
Key Moment: In the bottom of the fifth, Cannarella tied the score at 2-2 with an RBI single, putting runners on second and third with just one out. Benjamin Blackwell would then ground out before Chad Fairey struck out to end the inning and robbing the Tigers of golden opportunity to seize the momentum in a game in which runs were hard to come by.
Stat of the Game: Clemson pitching combined to strike out 18 UCF hitters in the game. On top of Ammons’ 10, freshman Joe Allen struck out three, Nick Clayton and Lindley each had two, while Smith finished with one.
Up Next: The two teams will do battle on Saturday in the second game of the weekend series. First pitch is set for approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
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