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Tigers top Duke in 3-game road series

Rhylie Ladoucer
Designated hitter Tristan Bisetta (27), pictured against UNCG on March 9, stepped up big in game two of the ACC weekend series in Durham, as his sixth-inning grand slam helped the Tigers withstand a five-run seventh inning from Duke and tie the series at one game apiece.

The No. 8 Clemson Tigers proved themselves as a team with championship aspirations, winning a three-game road series against the No. 3 Blue Devils this weekend.

Through six innings in game two, Duke was within striking distance of winning the three-game series after clinching Friday’s match 5-2. That was until Clemson’s designated hitter, Tristan Bissetta, stepped into the box with one out and the bases loaded, hoping to extend the Tigers’ 4-2 lead.

Despite being in front all game, the Tigers had yet to pull away from the Blue Devils, and with Duke’s high-powered offense, insurance runs were a requirement for victory. With the pitch coming low in the zone, Bissetta lowered himself to get it and launched a rocket off his bat over the right field wall.

The grand slam proved vital as it allowed Clemson to withstand a five-run seventh inning from Duke and tie the series at one game apiece.

The Tigers arrived in Durham with high hopes, riding the momentum of an 11-game win streak. In the first matchup of the series, the Blue Devils proved why they are considered one of the top teams in the country, defeating the Tigers 5-2. Clemson fell into a hole early and struggled to find a way out after a three-run first inning from Duke.

Saturday’s matchup told a different narrative for the Tigers. Starting pitcher Tristan Smith kept the game tight with a 10-strikeout performance on the mound, though Clemson’s offense could not pull away until Bissetta broke the game open in the seventh inning with a grand slam.

Following the game, head coach Erik Bakich had nothing but praise for Smith.

“(Smith) gave us six strong innings against a really good offense. That was really one of the biggest keys to victory,” Bakich said.

Sunday afternoon gave way to another tight matchup between the two ACC powerhouses. Tied in the 10th inning, catcher Jimmy Obertop crushed a solo shot, which gave way to a bomb two batters later from infielder Jacob Hinderleider to place the Tigers up by three runs. Duke was unable to respond in its at-bats, securing a Clemson victory for the game and the series.

With Clemson’s commanding performance, the team showcased its ability to compete with any team in the country.

Bakich set the expectations from the start of the season.

“For us as a program, we got our goals set at the highest level like most elite teams would of winning a national championship,” he said.

The Tigers’ performance against Duke is an example of Bakich’s expectations becoming a reality; Clemson is a team with a real shot of playing its final innings of the season in Omaha.

The Tigers are back in action when they return home to Doug Kingsmore Stadium to take on Winthrop on Tuesday, March 19, at 6 p.m.

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Brett Porter, Senior Reporter
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