The night after a commanding 14-2 midweek victory over Western Carolina, the Tigers looked to continue their success against the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs. Thanks to two errors by Gardner-Webb in the third inning that led to four runs and strong starting pitching from Clate Schmidt, the Tigers pulled out a 7-5 victory. The win brought Clemson to 20-18 on the season, and Gardner-Webb fell to 17-20.
Despite two flyouts to centerfield by Tyler Slaton and Glenn Batson to start the third inning, the Tigers were able to take advantage of two errors by the Runnin' Bulldogs to get men on first and third for Steven Duggar, who hit a two-run double down the rightfield line. Tyler Krieger, playing second base for the second night in a row, then got a hit that sent Duggar home, and Reed Rohlman also singled to score Krieger, extending the leftfielder's hitting streak to 11 games.
"The inning never dies," Krieger said. "You have to get three outs to end the inning, and we've had a lot of those two-out rallies this year, so just getting men on base with two outs and continuing to swing the bats and believing with two outs is big. You saw we put up four runs there and kind of got the momentum going in that inning and it kind of swung the game for us."
The Tigers tacked on another run in the fourth off of another RBI from Rohlman that scored Krieger, and then two more in the fifth on a RBI double from Chase Pinder. Fortunately for Clemson, the seven runs were enough to combat a ninth inning rally by Gardner-Webb, who scored four in the ninth thanks in part to a three-run homer off of reliever Alex Schnell.
"We're in a comfortable place right now," Rohlman said. "This was a big week series for us, and to bring it in for this weekend was huge. It's always big when you get two outs and you can still find a way to put up some runs. They made a couple errors, which we took full advantage of, and that's always a big thing in baseball, when you can make teams pay for their errors, so that was nice."
Tiger starter Schmidt (1-1) got his first win of the year after allowing only one run off of four hits in 7.0 innings pitched. Reliever Pat Krall earned his second save of the year after pitching the ninth inning and allowing no hits with one strikeout.
"It was huge," Schmidt said. "We have to win every game that we can, and it's been big that we've been able to put these two together, and hopefully we can take that momentum into the weekend."
The Tigers now have an ACC series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this weekend against Duke. The first game is on Friday at 6:30 p.m. followed by a Saturday night game at the same time, and the series wraps up on Sunday at 1 p.m.