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Clemson surges past Xavier in second game of series

Toby Corriston
Clemson outfielder Cam Cannarella (10) runs to first base during Clemson’s opening day win over Xavier on Feb. 16 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

An offensive surge in the middle innings propelled the No. 10-ranked Clemson baseball team to an 8-3 victory over Xavier in the second game of the opening series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson struggled offensively in the early innings, managing just one hit through the first three innings. Despite loading the bases twice thanks to four walks, they left five runners stranded in these innings.

“It got a little frustrating there when we felt like we stranded the bases loaded so many times and left a lot of runners on base,” head coach Erik Bakich said.

Xavier took an early lead with a solo home run by Luke Hammond in the second inning. It held until the bottom of the fourth when Nolan Nawrocki’s RBI double sparked the Tigers’ offense.

The floodgates then opened, with Cam Cannarella driving in two runs on an RBI single and later scoring on an overthrow to first base. Cannarella finished the day with two walks and two RBIs.

Jacob Hinderleider added two RBIs with a double in the fifth inning. His multi-hit day marked his first hits as a Tiger.

“It felt really good. I’m just really excited to be here and grateful to be a part of this program,” Hinderleider said. “The community here is amazing. It’s a little bit different of an atmosphere, but it’s definitely awesome to play in front of these fans.”

Xavier added another solo home run in the top of the sixth, but its offensive efforts were limited to just four hits throughout the game.

Clemson’s Andrew Ciufo and Blake Wright had a pair of solo shots in the bottom of the sixth to extend the Tigers’ lead to 8-2. The duo finished with a pair of multi-hit games as well.

Clemson’s pitching staff delivered a strong performance, with Tristan Smith striking out five batters in four innings while allowing only one run on one hit. Nick Clayton followed with three innings of work, giving up two runs on two hits with five strikeouts and one walk. Lucas Mahlstedt closed the game with two scoreless innings.

“I thought we pitched very well. Again, it wasn’t our best defensive and pitching a defensive performance, but we did enough to win,” Bakich added. “That was good to see our guys stick with it, not get frustrated and keep having quality at-bats.”

Having racked up 10 hits, 10 walks and a hit by pitch during the game, the Tigers had plenty of scoring chances. However, despite the opportunities, they couldn’t find the bases-clearing hit, stranding 11 runners on base.

The Tigers aim to complete the sweep of Xavier on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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