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Clemson gets blasted 18-1 by Kennesaw State

Kate Adent
Clemson pitcher Billy Barlow (30) hurls a pitch on the mound in the Tigers’ loss to Kennesaw State on Friday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The No. 10 Clemson Baseball team finally cooled off after a scorching start to the 2024 season, hitting just 5-for-31 in an 18-1 loss to the Kennesaw State Owls at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday.

As a team, Clemson allowed 20 hits on the day and eight runs in the fifth inning to make any hope of a comeback insurmountable.

The loss was The Tigers’ most significant margin of defeat at home since their 18-0 loss to Michigan State in 1936. It was also Kennesaw State’s first win against Clemson of their five meetings and the highest-ranked road win in their Division-I era.

Speaking to the media after the game, Clemson head coach Erik Bakich took full responsibility for the loss, calling the defeat “embarrassing” and “unacceptable.”

“This is squarely my fault. I take full responsibility and take the blame,” Bakich said. “I think as a coach, anytime a team comes out flat, not ready to play, not ready to compete and gets out-competed in all facets, you got to look yourself in the mirror as a coach and know you didn’t do a good job getting the team ready to play.”

The Owls started quickly plating two runs on three hits in the first inning, adding another run in the second. In the top of the third, Kennesaw State designated hitter Donovan Cash slammed a home run straight over center field, followed by an RBI after two back-to-back doubles. Bakich then decided to pull starting pitcher Billy Barlow, who finished with a 6.43 ERA after pitching 52 balls for eight hits, five of which were earned.

Clemson desperately needed to make something shake going into the fourth inning before the Owls ran away with every ounce of momentum.

The Tigers were able to hold Kennesaw State to zero runs in the fourth inning yet remained stagnant on the offensive side of the ball with their initial three hitters striking out.

The fifth inning is where it all came crashing down for Clemson, letting up eight runs, three coming from a fielding error by Georgetown transfer and starting shortstop Andrew Ciufo.

Heading into the top of the sixth, Bakich called for a mass substitution, taking out eight of the nine starting players and putting in a majority of freshmen. Some of those young players showed promise on the offensive side of the ball as freshman outfielder/infielder Tryston McCladdie hit a single to right field, earning his first career hit and just the second hit for The Tigers on the day in the seventh inning. Brodey Conn finally got Clemson on the board in the eighth, launching a solo home run over center field.

Bakich had praise for the two after the game when speaking on the mass substitution.

“A guy like Tryson McCladdie comes off the bench, ready to hit, Brodey Conn, ready to hit,” Bakich said. “Those were some nice moments for them. That was good to see, looking for a silver lining. We have a right-handed dominant lineup, and if we’re looking for lefties to come off the bench, we got two guys like that who put a charge into the ball; that’s good to see.”

The Tigers look to get back on track in the second game of the three-game series in Doug Kingsmore Stadium at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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Angelo Feliberty
Angelo Feliberty, Senior Reporter
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