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Clemson takes game 2 over Kennesaw State

Kate Adent
Clemson’s Blake Wright (8) and Andrew Ciufo celebrate during the Tigers’ game against Kennesaw State in Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Feb. 24, 2024.

The No. 10 Tigers bounced back on Saturday and defeated Kennesaw State 8-6 in game two of the three-game series. It was a back-and-forth game consisting of multiple lead changes and multiple defense miscues from the Tigers.

The win over the Owls marked the Tigers’ 3000th win as a program

“Prettiest, ugliest, whatever you want to call it. Sometimes good teams have to win ugly. We had to overcome the self-afflicted adversity,” Clemson head coach Erik Bakich said.

Clemson (5-1) once again got off to a slow start, allowing a home run to Isaac Bouton in the top of the first. In the home half of the frame, the Tigers only managed one baserunner via a walk. Clemson’s offense continued to struggle, being retired in order in the second inning.

Clemson’s offense got going in the third when Jacob Hinderleider led off the inning with a solo home run to left centerfield for the Tigers’ first hit of the day. That hit proved to be the spark Clemson needed, as it was immediately followed by a base hit from Jack Crighton. Star sophomore Cam Cannarella followed up with his second home run of the season, giving the Tigers their first lead of the series.

The Tigers’ offensive surge continued into the fourth as they loaded the bases on a walk from Jimmy Obertop and a pair of singles by Hinderleider and Crighton. This set the stage for Cannarella to drive in 2 with a single to right field, effectively knocking the Kennesaw State starter Blake Aita out of the game. With this hit, Cannarella delivered his fourth RBI of the day.

Clemson starter Tristan Smith pitched efficiently early on, finishing his first three innings in less than 40 pitches. Smith consistently worked out of jams, stranding a Kennesaw State runner on third base in the second inning and stranding runners at first and second in the fourth. The lefty allowed two runs in the inning, neither of them being earned.

Clemson’s defense looked sloppy at times, including a throwing error by Andrew Ciufo, his second of the season. Tristan Smith pitched 4.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while recording six strikeouts.

The Tigers loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth but were unable to bring anyone home. Will Taylor grounded into a fielder’s choice before Blake Wright grounded into a double play to end the frame, squandering a prime scoring opportunity in a one-run game.

Kennesaw State went on to tie the game in the seventh after a pair of throwing errors on pickoff attempts and a wild pitch by relief pitcher Lucas Mahlstedt. Later on in the inning, Nolan Nawrocki made a throwing error to first, allowing another run to cross the plate. This throwing error was Clemson’s fifth error of the day. The Tigers would go on to commit six errors over the full course of the ballgame.

In the eighth inning, Hinderleider hit his second home run of the day, tying the game at six runs apiece. Hinderleider’s hit was immediately followed by a single from Crighton, his fourth hit of the game. Cannarella then got a base hit himself. A sacrifice bunt by Will Taylor put runners second and third with one out, giving Wright a prime opportunity. Wright went on to hit a single up the middle, scoring one and regaining the lead for the Tigers. Aiden Mathes followed this score up with a sacrifice fly to right field, sending another runner home and extending Clemson’s lead.

The Tigers will be back at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m. to try to win the series against Kennesaw State.

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Tyler Skorski, Senior Reporter
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