Last season, the Clemson baseball team made a habit of thrilling fans with some late game heroics. If the 2018 opening series is any indication of what's to come, fans better be prepared for another year of the Cardiac Cats.
Game 1: Clemson 5 W&M 4 (10 innings)
Early on the game had the appearance of a good old fashion pitcher's duel, with sophomore Jacob Hennessy holding the Tribe scoreless for the first three innings and striking out five batters. Unfortunately, in the fourth, the former closer started to show a little fatigue and some control issues put a pair of base runners on for Tribe right fielder Ryan Hall who sent a three run shot to the left field bleachers and give William and Mary a 3-0 lead. The Tigers were held in check on offense and through the sixth inning had only one hit before freshman center fielder Brice Teodosio and Logan Davidson were able to get a pair of hits. Drew Wharton hit a sacrifice fly to score Teodosio and put the Tigers on the board. W&M answered when Zachary Pearson scored in the top of the seventh. The Tribe held the 4-1 lead until Clemson was down to its final out in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Seth Beer was hit in the ankle by a pitch. Chris Williams followed that up with a double that moved Beer to third. Robert Jolly (aka Big Hit Bob) hit a nice blooper to right center to score Beer and Williams, cutting the deficit to one run. Freshman Sam Hall came on to run for Jolly, and stole second by sliding just under the tag. Grayson Byrd was intentionally walked, and then Kyle Wilkie was able to force a walk to load them up for Patrick Cromwell. W&M pitcher Wade Strain (who had a 10.06 ERA last season) threw a wild pitch which scored Hall. Cromwell struck out, but the Tigers had new life going in to the tenth. Ryley Gilliam struck out three, but Patrick Ryan reached on a passed ball. Wharton ended the inning by catching a pop fly in left. Teodosio led off the bottom of the inning with a double. Strain then hit Drew Wharton and intentionally walked Seth Beer. Williams ripped a single through the gap to score Teodosio and give the Tigers the 5-4 Opening Day win. It was Clemson's first win on Opening Day since 2013 when the Tigers defeated William & Mary 2-0. Ryley Gilliam, who came on in the tenth, receives the win.
Game 2: Clemson 7 W&M 6
Once again, the Tigers found themselves in a hole early in a game that was delayed for two hours due to rain. Hunter Smith opened the second inning with a homer against Brooks Crawford to put the Tribe up 1-0. W&M tacked on another run when Brandon Raquet hit a two out single to score a run. Clemson responded in the bottom half when Drew Wharton grounded out to third to score Bryce Teodosio. Seth Beer followed up Wharton's RBI with his first homer of the year to tie the game 2-2. Cromwell had a nice single in the bottom of the fourth to score Kylie Wilkie and give Clemson the 3-2 lead. Ryan Hall tied it up in the fifth with and RBI single, and the Tigers and Tribe stayed knotted up until Cromwell hit a bases loaded bloop single to score Chris Williams and put Clemson up 4-3. Logan Davidson worked a two out bases loaded walk to give Clemson another run. Cromwell later forced a bases loaded walk in the seventh to score Beer. A wild pitch scored Chris Williams and gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead. W&M scored three runs in the eighth off of a wild pitch and a two run single from Hunter Smith. Carson Spiers came on to pitch with one out and was able to force a fly out to left and strike out Owen Socher to end the inning. Tigers were put away in order by Nick Butts in the eight, but Spiers was able to put the Tribe down in order in the top of the ninth to earn his first career save and give Clemson the 7-6 win. Freshman Scott Strider, who came on in the fifth, earned his first career win.
Game 3: Clemson 2 W&M 1
Clemson finally took an early lead in a game when Chris Williams was batted in by Drew Wharton in the second. The Tigers added another run when Seth Beer was bought in on a bases loaded hit by pitch of Drew Wharton. Beer was walked by pitcher Jacob Haney and then stole second. He was eventually advanced to third when Robert Jolly was walked with two on. Jake Higginbotham, who missed 2017 with an injury, got the start and pitched 5.1 innings and allowed just two hits. He struck out three and walked no one. The two hits came in the sixth when Owen Socher hit a one out double and Zach Pearson followed that up with a single to left center to bring Socher in. Travis Marr came on to replace Higginbotham and was able to keep the Tribe from tying it up. Neither team scored again and the Tigers held on to the 2-1 victory as Ryley Gilliam came in to the ninth to record the save. Higginbotham gets his first win of the year, and the Tigers move on to 3-0.