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Clemson bats off to hot start with 3 grand slams

Toby Corriston
Graduate infielder Andrew Ciufo narrowly avoids being tagged out as he slides to base in Clemson’s first game against Xavier last Friday.

For the fifth consecutive year, the No. 10 Clemson baseball team (4-0) broke out the brooms in its opening series after sweeping Xavier last weekend. Making history in the process, the Tigers unleashed an offensive barrage as they hit two grand slams in a single game for just the third time in program history.

Opening weekend saw the Tigers stage three comeback victories over Xavier and finish with a decisive 8-2 win against Presbyterian on Tuesday.

The Tigers found themselves clinging to a narrow one-run lead on Tuesday night until the seventh inning. Jarren Purify, who was 0-3 on the night, delivered with the bases loaded, turning on a slider and launching it over the left field wall for his first collegiate hit and the Tigers’ third grand slam of the season.

Cannarella also sent the first pitch of the first inning for Clemson. This home run not only extended his hitting streak to 13 games, dating back to last season but also set the tone for another strong offensive day for the Tigers.

The Tigers’ pitching staff had another solid performance, allowing just three hits, but surrendered two earned runs on the night.

Friday evening, fans witnessed a seven-run first inning to open the season, which included Alden Mathes launching a grand slam in his first plate appearance as a Tiger. Cannarella knocked in the other three runs on a base-clearing double off the wall.

Cannarella has led the team this season, batting .556 with six RBIs. Mathes has also continued his hot start with a .455 batting average, including a triple to add to the grand slam.

Clemson’s bats rolled through the week, outscoring teams 27-12 over the team’s next three games. As a whole, the Tigers have a .356 team batting average, scoring 41 runs on 48 hits, including eight home runs. Defensively, Clemson has been solid, committing only five errors over the four games.

The Tigers’ pitching staff collectively have a 3.0 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP. Billy Barlow set the tone by pitching five solid innings in the season opener, giving up just two runs — neither of which were earned.

While the Tigers’ offense was hot to open the year, there’s still room for improvement. Despite loading the bases in 13 innings this year, Clemson struggled to capitalize on some of those opportunities, leaving a total of 26 runners stranded on base.

Clemson will be back in action on Friday when it hosts Kennesaw State at 5:00 p.m. in the first of a three-game series.

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Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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