Following a somewhat disappointing opening weekend series loss to West Virginia, the Clemson baseball team rebounded with a sweep of the Maine Black Bears this past weekend. The series was moved to Lake Olmstead Stadium in Augusta, GA in the wake of inclement weather in Clemson, but the venue change did not faze the Tigers at all; they won the first game by a score of 10-1, the second 5-4 in 14 innings and the final 10-2. With the sweep, the Tigers improve to 4-2 on the season and the Black Bears fall to 1-6.
Matthew Crownover (1-0) was on the mound for the first game on Friday at 11 a.m. and pitched 7.0 strong innings en route to the win. In a game played primarily in subfreezing temperatures, he allowed one unearned run on only five hits and had seven strikeouts with no walks.
Offensively, the Tigers took the lead 2-0 after scoring single runs in both the first and second innings on RBIs from Steven Duggar and Reed Rohlman. The lead was extended in the fourth inning on two more RBIs from Rohlman to score Eli White and Andrew Cox. Other scoring plays in the game included RBIs from Weston Wilson, Tyler Krieger and White. White has taken advantage of starting at shortstop in place of the injured Krieger, who is currently serving as the designated hitter. White's bat coming alive has been a nice asset for the Tigers, as he only hit .143 in 28 games in the 2014 season. In Friday's game, White went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
"This weekend was a huge confidence builder," White said after the series.
On Saturday, the Tigers and the Bears squared off in a double header starting at 11 a.m. The first game was a back and forth scoring battle that went to 14 innings, and despite a performance riddled with costly errors, the Tigers came out on top 5-4, walking off on a Krieger one-out single that scored Tyler Slaton.
"It's fun to be in those situations," Krieger said of the walkoff win. That's why you play the game and why you prepare. It was good to try to help my team win."
Another highlight of the first game was freshman pitcher Alex Schnell (1-0), who was a force out of the bullpen, pitching the final three innings of the contest and giving up no hits.
"He did a great job," Leggett said of Schnell's performance. "He pitched three perfect innings. He's got a lot of moxie about him; he's got some toughness to him, and he's going to be good before it's all over. I like the way he battles and I'm glad he's on our team.
A little over half an hour after the exciting walkoff win in the first game, the second game proved to also be a close matchup, as the Tigers only scored one run in the first four innings to Maine's two. That first run came in unconventional fashion, as catcher Chris Okey sliced a triple to right field and then scored on a balk. The Tiger offense finally got hot in the fifth inning, as Rohlman's sacrifice fly tied the score at 2 all. In the next inning, the Tigers took the lead for good on a Wilson single that scored Okey and a sac fly from Cox to score Wilson. The Tigers went on to score two more in the seventh and four in the eighth, sealing a 10-2 victory. Starting pitcher Brody Koerner (1-1) pitched a career-long 8.0 innings, earning the win.
"The goal is always to win any game you play in and to get two today was big," Krieger said. "We played good this weekend, and we just have to build off this and continue to play well and I think we will."
Clemson's next game is against Wofford tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Doug Kingsmore Stadium.