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Tigers Avoid Sweep, But Lose Series to UNC

It took 11 innings, but Clemson did break the losing streak to UNC and took the final game of the series tonight 5-4 in Chapel Hill thanks to some strong pitching by Scott Firth in relief.

Clemson actually did alright at the plate in the series, pounding out 27 hits, but we couldn't get them when they were needed the most and ended up losing the series as a result of that and some weak starting pitching. We left 28 men on base for the whole series, and no starter went more than the 4 innings that freshman Matt Crownover did tonight.

Saturday - UNC 10-3

Daniel Gossett got rocked from the start. It just wasnt working UNC jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning after a 2B, a 3B, and 3 singles. A 3-run homer in the 3rd sealed his fate. Over 3 innings, he gave up 10 hits and 8 runs. Mike Kent came on in relief, and though he gave up a bunch of hits, he managed to finish the final 5 while allowing only 2 runs.

All 10 Tar Heels who stepped to the plate in the game had at least one hit, as North Carolina totaled 19 hits in all. Stubbs led the way by going 4-for-5 with a triple, two RBIs, and two runs. Chaz Frank and Moran added three hits apiece, while Roberts had a game-high four RBIs.

UNC starter Kent Emanuel handled us pretty well, aside from Tyler Slaton, who went 3-for-4. The 3-4-5 spots went 2-for-12, and no one other than Slaton and Duggar had more than 1 hit.

Most infuriating was that Clemson loaded the bases with nobody out in the 5th, and did not score a single run. After Duggar walked to load the bases, Wilkerson struck out swinging, Boulware popped out to RF, and Shane Kennedy looked at the 3rd strike (again). Nothing drives me nuts more than looking at a 3rd strike when you're down with RISP.

Monday Game 1 - UNC 6-2

Sunday night's game was paused in the 3rd due to the deluge and later suspended til today, when we played a split doubleheader. UNC pitching shut us down altogether in this contest, and we managed only 6 hits for the game.

Benton started the game for UNC on Sunday and got through his 2 innings without issue. Scott Thornton was called upon to start the remainder today and Clemson could do nothing with him, as he went the final 6 1/3 while allowing 2 runs due to 2 errors. We loaded the bases in the 6th, but could not score a single runner.

Clate Schmidt wasn't getting anyone in his short stint and was tagged with the loss. In his recent outings he hasn't had the command he showed against SC, but I'm not sure who could step in to replace him at the moment. Crownover is still on a strict pitch count, and you wouldnt want to see Mike Kent starting regularly. I don't believe Koerner is ready. The best option to me is probably Erwin, but he also deserves the Sunday spot right now.

Erwin finished this game for us and did pretty well, going 6 innings while allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.

Lassiter led North Carolina's 11-hit attack by going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Russell totaled two hits, while Stubbs added two RBIs.

Boulware and Kennedy both went 2-for-4 to lead Clemson.

Monday Game 2 - Clemson 5-4 in 11 inn.

The Tigers managed to pull this one out in the 11th inning with 2 bunt singles on attempted sacrifices and a Garrett Boulware single to score the winning run. Steve Wilkerson was held out due to a finger laceration.

Matthew Crownover got the start and though he's still on the recovery path from Tommy John, I thought he pitched really well considering the lineup he was facing. Over 4 2/3 innings, he gave up 7 hits and 3 runs. He was relieved by Schnell, who got out of the mess in the 5th, but allowed UNC to tie it in the 7th before being pulled for Firth. Firth then shut down UNC, allowing just 3 hits over the last 4 2/3 innings, but the 11th was a nailbiter.

Down 2-0, Clemson got on the board in the 4th with a single run. With 1 out, Garrett Boulware doubled to LF and reached 3rd on a ground out. After Kennedy worked a walk, Krieger singled to score Boulware to make it 2-1. However, with 2 men on, Brittle looked at a 3rd strike.

We benefitted from some wild pitches in the 6th to plate 3 runs and take a 4-3 lead. McGibbon reached on a ball to 2nd that ate up the fielder, and reached 2nd base on the first WP. Kennedy walked and Krieger singled to load the bases for Brittle, who singled home the first 2 runs. Krieger reached 3rd on a poor throw. Brittle later stole 2nd, and Krieger scored on the 2nd WP with some nice baserunning. Brittle reached 3rd before Bradley struck out swinging.

Clemson had a chance in the 8th, with runners on 1st and 3rd, but again Brittle struck out on a garbage pitch. At least he swung this time.

In the 11th, Bradley led off with a walk and Wilkerson was called in to pinch-run. Baum bunted right at the pitcher, and he couldnt come up with it in time. Slaton tried to give them another out with a bunt, and this one went right to the 5.5 hole and Clemson loaded the bases with no one out despite trying to give them 2 outs.

Steven Duggar's hit was more like a swinging bunt right to the 1B, who threw home for the first out. Boulware bounced one to short to score the runner to give us a 5-4 lead.

UNC didn't go quietly in the bottom of the 11th. Firth nearly hit the first guy with the first pitch, but did hit him later. A bunt moved him to 2nd but we couldn't get the out. Replay showed the Ump missed the call. Lassiter popped a bunt up to Boulware for the first out. Moran came up next and flied to Center, but if they had been playing this right, they possibly could've scored from 2nd. Brittle's throw to the cutoff man was on time to get another out at 2nd, but the cutoff man wasn't paying attention and no one was close to the bag. Thankfully Skye Bolt grounded out to end the game.