Clemson advances to ACC semifinals
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Friday’s Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship game between Clemson and Boston College evolved into quite the pitcher’s duel. But before it did, the third-seeded Tigers came up with all the offense they needed.
Caden Grice’s two-run homer in the first inning and Jack Crighton’s two-run double in the second proved the offensive story as Clemson clipped the sixth-seeded Eagles, 4-1, in the opening game of the day at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
With the win, Clemson (41-17) became the fourth and final team to punch its ticket to the Championship semifinals, which are scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Top-seeded Wake Forest (46-9) faces No. 4 seed Miami (38-18) in the first game at 1 p.m., followed by the Tigers against No. 7 seed North Carolina (35-21) at 1 p.m. The winners will advance to Sunday’s noon title game.
Sporting a No. 16 RPI as of Friday morning, Boston College (35-18) is virtually assured of a berth in the upcoming NCAA tournament and remains hopeful of being selected as a regional host.
The Tigers struck quickly on Friday as Cam Cannarella led off with a double and Grice followed two outs later with a home run down the right-field line. The two-run shot was Grice’s 16th of the season and his second of the tournament, following the grand slam that helped break open Clemson’s 14-5 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.
Clemson made it 4-0 in the second as Riley Bertram and Benjamin Blackwell each drew walks, moved up on a double-steal and scored on Crighton’s double to right field.
Then the pitchers took over. John West came on in relief for Boston College in the bottom of the third, retired the first 12 batters he faced, and departed having allowed just one hit and two baserunners in 5.2 innings while striking out seven.
Clemson starter Austin Gordon went six innings, allowing just two hits and walking three before giving way to the bullpen.
Boston College went hitless from the fifth through eight innings. But Clemson lost its bid for a shutout with two outs in the top of the ninth, when Nick Wang hit a high drive over the “Blue Monster” in left field. Wang’s 10th home run of the season came just after Clemson’s Cannarella had made a leaping catch of Vince Cimini’s drive to the wall in left-center.
Tigers reliever Reed Garris then hit Kyle Wolff with a pitch and walked Cameron Leary on a 3-2 pitch to bring BC’s potential tying run to the plate. But Ryan Ammons – the Tigers’ fourth pitcher out of the bullpen – struck out pinch hitter Daniel Baruch on three pitches to allow the Clemson faithful to finally exhale.
Gordon (2-4) picked up the win on the mound while Eagles starter Chris Flynn (7-3) took the loss. The save was Ammons’ fifth of the year.
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