Clemson baseball opened the 2020 season with a three-game sweep over the Liberty Flames this weekend at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The Tigers got the series started with a 5-3 victory on Friday night which featured junior pitcher Sam Weatherly racking up a career-high eight strikeouts in just four innings pitched. This would be the start of a terrific weekend on the mound with its game one victory.
Clemson got started in the fourth inning with a solo home run from junior infielder Sam Hall, who tied the game at 1-1. The very next inning, sophomore catcher Adam Hackenberg drove a two-out single that gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Clemson scored again in the sixth inning on an error and a two-out RBI single to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. Sophomore infielder James Parker added an insurance run in the eighth inning with an RBI single to give Clemson the lead for good. Senior pitcher Carson Spiers picked up the opening game save after throwing 3.0 innings, allowing one run on one hit and striking out four batters. Freshman pitcher Geoffrey Gilbert would collect the win for the Tigers, his first career victory.
Game two was a pitching competition with the two teams combining to allow just 12 hits and one run, which helped the Tigers pick up the win, 1-0. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Kier Meredith was the hero for Clemson, scoring the game’s only run on an RBI single to centerfield in the fifth inning. Tiger starting pitcher Davis Sharpe was dominant on his way to his first win of the season, going 5.0 innings and allowing just three hits and picking up six strikeouts. Sharpe is expected to be a key figure in Clemson’s weekend rotation this season.
The Tigers completed the sweep on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over the Flames. Clemson got the scoring started in the third inning with a two-run single from Hackenberg that plated Meredith and redshirt sophomore outfielder Elijah Henderson. After Liberty tied the game in the fifth inning, Clemson answered in the bottom half of the inning when Hackenberg delivered again, singling through the left side of the infield to score sophomore infielder James Parker and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Hackenberg’s single would give Clemson a lead it would not let slip away as the Tigers added insurance runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to pick up the 6-2 win. Redshirt junior pitcher Mat Clark picked up the win, his first of the season.
The opening weekend went well for Monte Lee’s squad. Clemson looks like it’s going to have a great pitching rotation this season, which helps considering the lack of depth and consistency that plagued the team last season. It’s always good to get a sweep, but it’s even better when you do so with dominant pitching. In 27 innings of work, Tiger pitchers combined for 37 strikeouts and just 18 walks. Clemson allowed just five runs over the course of the weekend.
On the offensive side, the Tigers’ bats were good apart from Saturday’s one-run effort. Clemson certainly has room to improve hitting, but the Tigers got great performances from Hackenberg, Henderson, Meredith and Parker at the plate this weekend. Coach Lee must be happy with his team’s play this opening series.
Clemson (3-0, 0-0 ACC) will play two midweek games versus The Citadel (Tuesday, 4 p.m., ACCNX) and Furman (Wednesday, 4 p.m., ACCNX) before opening a three-game series with Stony Brook at home next weekend.