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Clemson baseball completes sweep against Xavier

Rhylie Ladoucer
Clemson infielder Blake Wright (8) had three RBIs in Clemson’s final game of the opening weekend series against Xavier at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, where the Tigers won 11-7 on Sunday afternoon.

The Clemson baseball team completed its series sweep against Xavier on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Musketeers 11-7 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

After outscoring Xavier by 16 through the first two games, the Tigers put up 11 more runs to score a total of 33 in three games, exercising their pool of talent in the opening weekend. Trailing 5-4 after four innings, a siege of this talent led to seven runs through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, which allowed Clemson (3-0) to come away with the victory.
“For our guys to be able to put up 11 runs but be able to do it from a deficit at some times, multiple times, was big,” head coach Erik Bakich said after the win. “We had to create a few things, and we knew we had to come out and earn it, and our guys did a good job at that.”

The Tigers started hot in the bottom of the first, scoring twice off a triple by second baseman Blake Wright that nearly found its way over the right field wall. Graduate right fielder Aidan Mathes followed, bringing Wright home to take an early 3-1 lead after one frame.

The Musketeers (0-3) responded well, taking the lead through the fourth inning with multiple RBI singles. Xavier’s Hayden Christiansen and Tyler DeMartino both earned RBIs in the top of the third, helping contribute to their overtaking of Clemson with a 5-3 lead.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Aidan Knaak, who got the start on the mound for the Tigers, allowed six hits with six strikeouts through 3.0 innings. While not the performance that Knaak may have envisioned, head coach Eric Bakich thinks it will motivate him.

“If he would’ve thrown no hits or gave up a bunch of hits, either way, he was gonna be good,” Bakich said. “I’m glad it was, in his mind, probably what he feels like is a little bit rocky and not the start that he wanted to have because it’s an opportunity to improve on top of that in his next start.”

A surge of offense came in the second half of the game, notably in the fifth and seventh innings, where the Tigers scored three runs in each. After Jack Crighton, a sophomore outfielder from Rochester Hills, Michigan, was walked, fellow outfielder Cam Cannarella got onto first, moving Crighton to third. A walk for infielder Nolan Nawrocki fully loaded the bases, and the Tigers scored from an RBI by Wright and two RBIS off a double by Mathes shortly after.

“When we get runners in scoring position like that, we gotta execute, and I thought we did a very good job at doing that today,” Wright said, crediting his team’s offensive performance along with his contribution of three RBIs.

The Musketeers answered the Tigers’ runs in the fifth with two runs of their own in the top of the seventh.

Leading 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh, Clemson had the bases loaded when shortstop Andrew Ciufo hit a sacrifice fly into center field, running Wright through home. A critical infield error by Xavier left the door open for Mathes and catcher Jimmy Obertop to score. With two innings to try and find an answer, Xavier could not find a single base, and Clemson secured the weekend sweep.

Wright added his thoughts on the Tigers’ opening weekend sweep, acknowledging the skill of Xavier.

“Xavier, they’re a very good team,” Wright added. “They had a good run last year, and they are going to be a good team this year. But it’s a great start. It’s how you want to start, so let’s keep it going.”

The Tigers keep it going at home this Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium against Presbyterian.

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