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Clemson Dominates Western Carolina

Behind a strong six inning performance from starter Jake Long and offense from all parts of the lineup, the Tigers finally came out victorious in a midweek matchup, beating Western Carolina 14-2.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

After winning a weekend ACC series at Boston College, the Tigers came back to Clemson to face the Western Carolina Catamounts and dominated all aspects of the game, winning 14-2. With the win, the Tigers sweep the home-and-home season series with Western Carolina 2-0 and improved to 19-18 on the season. The Catamounts fell to 15-17 for the year.

The offense got going early, as the Tigers scored three runs in the second inning on RBIs from Chase Pinder, Tyler Slaton and Andrew Cox. Pinder, while still batting sixth in the lineup, was the designated hitter on Tuesday as Tyler Krieger got the start at second base for the second time this season.

Clemson picked up another run in the fourth after Western Carolina walked the bases loaded and then Slaton was hit by a pitch to score Krieger. The Tigers really broke the game open in the fourth, however, scoring seven runs on three hits as 13 Tigers came to bat in the inning. Three errors by the Catamounts contributed to the rally, and the inning even got started with Cox getting on first courtesy of an error by Western Carolina's third baseman. Eli White followed with a bunt that did not get fielded by the pitcher, who tripped trying to get to the ball. Steven Duggar walked to load the bases, and Krieger hit a two-run single to begin the scoring. Reed Rohlman then walked to reload the bases for Chris Okey, who also hit a two-run single.

Pinder then got on base thanks to another error by the Catamounts, and Slaton and Glenn Batson followed with two sacrifice flies that finally served as the first two outs of the inning. Two walks and one more error later, the Tigers had the bases loaded again with two outs for Krieger, who ended the inning with a fly out to centerfield.

The Tigers added three more runs in the fifth inning courtesy of RBIs from Slaton, Batson, and Drew Wharton, who came off the bench to play first base.

We have huge midweek games coming up for us for the rest of the year, so we just have to take it one game at a time and be ready to play our best. -Tyler Slaton

Rohlman, who went 2-for-2 with three runs, extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ACC Player-of-the-Week Okey was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs continued his recent success with runners in scoring position.

"It's always good getting the midweeks in," Okey said. "We've kind of struggled with that recently, but against a good team like that, coming out swinging the bats well and pitching well, it's huge for us momentum-wise, and we have to come out tomorrow and get a W."

Slaton tied his career high with four RBIs, a welcome sight for the struggling former leadoff hitter.

"We had a great team win tonight," Slaton said. "Offensively, we situationally hit really well tonight. That's always nice to have the whole team rolling like that, and hopefully we can keep it rolling. We have huge midweek games coming up for us for the rest of the year, so we just have to take it one game at a time and be ready to play our best."

Just as good as the offense was starter Jake Long (1-0), who earned his first win of the year by pitching a strong 6.0 innings, allowing one hit, one run, and one walk with five strikeouts. That one hit, a homer by Western Carolina's Austin Atwell, did not come until the sixth inning, showing how much command Long had over the Catamount lineup.

"I was throwing strikes," Long said. "I got ahead of guys, that helped me out a lot and I got to use my breaking ball. Changeup wasn't really great tonight, but it was a couple of times, just the biggest thing was throwing strikes tonight."

The Tigers have another midweek matchup tomorrow with Gardner-Webb at Doug Kingsmore Stadium at 6:30 p.m. and will host Duke this weekend for an important ACC series.