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Clemson sweeps series against Boston College: Seth Beer and pitching staff lead Tigers to conference series win

Ashley Stout, Asst. Photo Editor

After a five-game road trip over Spring Break, the Tiger baseball team eagerly returned home to Clemson this weekend. 

A series win over Wake Forest and a pair of victories over the Citadel had Clemson riding a four-game winning streak, but it took a few shreds of luck to pull off. In Winston-Salem, the Clemson pitching staff was tapped for 17 runs on the weekend by the Demon Deacons’ bats, forcing the Tiger offense to carry the team and rally to win games two and three of the series. 

While Clemson picked up an easy win in their first game against the Bulldogs of the Citadel, game two required more come-from-behind magic. This was followed by an escape act in the bottom of the ninth by closer Alex Bostic, who stranded the tying run at third base to end the game. As Mike Gambino’s Boston College squad came to town, still riding a hot start to the season, Monte Lee knew it was time to make some adjustments to his team.

The first of these adjustments came in game one on Friday, as the starting pitching nod went to senior Clate Schmidt, who had begun the season as the Saturday starter. A pair of RBI singles by Andrew Cox and Adam Renwick in the second inning staked Schmidt to a lead, but BC would tie it in the third with two solo homers and create another threat with a double to right. The Eagles appeared to have Schmidt knocked down, but he got up again. The senior righty would allow no further runs over seven innings of work while striking out a career-high eleven batters. A pair of two run dingers off the bats of Seth Beer and Weston Wilson gave him the run support he needed, sending the Tigers to a 6-2 victory in game one.

“Clate Schmidt showed a lot of guts. If you look at the one inning, he gave up two home runs and a double and after that, he got better,” Coach Lee told the media.

“It just shows you what type of makeup he has, toughness he has. We needed a guy who could go out there and give us a quality start and he did that and then some.”

Saturday was Charlie Barnes’ turn to put in an impressive performance on the mound. The sophomore lefty was shaken up in his last two appearances and was in great need of a rebound game. The Eagles got to him quick in the second inning for a 1-0 lead, but the Tigers more than compensated in the bottom half of the frame. 

With the bases loaded and two away, Chase Pinder hit a grounder that the shortstop couldn’t handle, scoring two runs. Reed Rohlman followed with a fly ball to right center that was dropped, sending two more runners home and giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead.

That was all that Barnes needed. He would allow only four hits and no walks over 7.1 innings of work, earning his first win in two weeks. Brooks Crawford pitched the rest of the game to earn his first career save. Insurance runs in the fourth and eighth inning brought the final score to 6-1 in favor of the Tigers, clinching the series win.

The work Barnes put on the mound gave him a shot of confidence he needed. After the game, he told reporters, “I just felt like everything was working and my defense was doing a great job for me back behind me.”

The only bad news for Clemson that came from Saturday’s game regarded first baseman Andrew Cox; he was hit in the foot by a pitch in the eighth inning, and will be out for four to six weeks while recovering from the fracture.

Sunday was Alex Eubanks’ turn to get tested on the mound. The Eagles struck first once again, plating the first run of the game on an RBI double by Donovan Casey, following it up with an RBI single by Jake Palomaki in the second inning. 

Staked to an early lead, BC starting pitcher Jacob Stevens — who had yet to allow an earned run on the season—kept the Tigers in check for the first six innings of the game. After allowing the first two runs of the game, Eubanks would settle in and keep the Boston bats from causing further damage, allowing no walks and striking out a career high ten. He would depart the game in the top of seventh, and the Tiger bats would begin chipping away once again in the bottom of the frame. 

With one away, Eli White socked a high fly ball into the stands in left, cutting the lead in half and forcing the Eagles to go to the bullpen. Reliever Justin Dunn quieted the Clemson lineup for the next 1.2 innings, setting up for a dramatic conclusion to the game.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Robert Jolly singled up the middle and was replaced on first by a pinch runner, K.J. Bryant. Eli White followed the at bat with a single of his own, putting runners at the corners for Chris Williams, who started the game in place of Andrew Cox. Williams — who lost his starting job after a terrible hitting slump to begin the season — went on to hit a grounder on the right side of the infield that BC second baseman Palomaki couldn’t corral, knotting the game at two runs apiece and sending the home crowd into a frenzy. 

After the next batter for Clemson popped up to short for out number two, Chase Pinder singled to right in what looked to be the game winning hit, but the Eagles’ right fielder Casey came up firing and caught Eli White out at home for the final out, meaning the drama would continue into extra innings.

Alex Bostic took the bump for the Tigers to begin the tenth inning. After he struck out the first two batters, the Eagles caused some trouble once again. An infield single and a fielding error at third, along with a passed ball by Chris Okey put runners at second and third for the Eagles. Bostic, however, would shut it down, forcing a groundout too short to retire the side. In the bottom half of the inning, BC reliever John Nicklas settled into an early groove, retiring Reed Rohlman and Chris Okay via a groundout and a strikeout, respectively. But when Seth Beer, riding a 17-game hitting streak, stepped up to the plate, it proved to be for naught, as Beer hit a no-doubter into the Cajun Cafe in right field, giving the Tigers a 3-2 walk off win and series sweep.

“I was just trying to look for something I could handle and just get on base,” Beer said regarding his big swing to end the game. “We got a great team and anybody can be a hero at any given point.”

With the win, the Tigers are now 16-3 on the year with a 5-1 mark in conference play, giving them a first place tie in the ACC Atlantic Division with Florida State. Considering Clemson didn’t record their sixteenth win until April 4 last year, the strides this team has made under Monte Lee are more impressive day after day.

The Tigers play one more home game against Presbyterian College on Tuesday before taking their talents to South Beach in a series against the Miami Hurricanes — which looks to be the biggest challenge yet for this Clemson squad.

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