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Tigers sweep Fighting Irish in 3-game road series

Kate Adent
Matthew Marchal and the Clemson defense held the team steady as the offense struggled to muster runs in game two until the eighth inning.

The No. 2 Clemson Tigers defeated Notre Dame by a score of 13-12 in the 11th inning on Sunday to complete their sweep of the Fighting Irish, their fourth series sweep of the season thus far.

In the 11th inning of Sunday’s matchup, Clemson’s leadoff hitter, Jack Crighton, stepped into the box with two outs, and the game locked at 11-11. The Tigers had held the lead at 11-1 up to that point, but an uncharacteristic 10 unanswered runs had turned the series finale into a nail-biter.

With two runners on base, the opportunity presented itself to get the Tigers back on top, but a routine ground ball to the shortstop seemed like it would ruin those plans.

Clemson’s saving grace came in the form of a low throw in the dirt, which skidded past the Notre Dame first baseman and headed toward the Clemson dugout. By the time the Fighting Irish managed to gather the ball, two Tigers crossed the plate, and Crighton stood safely on third. The defense held firm, and the Tigers secured a series sweep.

The Tigers traveled to South Bend for the series, bringing with them an impressive 25-3 record on the year. Very few teams could handle the explosive bats throughout Clemson’s lineup, and the road series held that same narrative. Clemson has been off to a hot start, which head coach Erik Bakich has enjoyed.

“It is about being consistently good, and that is what great teams are,” Bakich said. By Bakich’s logic, the Tigers are on pace to be a great team.

In the first game of the series, the Irish gave the Tigers a message at the start that this would not be a walk in the park. A homer in the bottom of the first, followed by a two-RBI double in the second, left Clemson in a quick 3-0 hole. Heading into the eighth inning, Clemson only managed to muster up a single run, but their defense, behind the pitching of Matthew Marchal, prevented any more damage from the Notre Dame offense.

In the eighth inning, Clemson’s batters broke the game open. Blake Wright got the momentum going with an RBI double to left field, eventually being driven in by a Jacob Hinderleider double to tie the game at three. Homers from Will Taylor and Jimmy Obertop secured a 7-3 victory for Clemson.

Marchal’s strong performance echoed Bakich’s words from last summer.

“He’s a strike-throwing machine. Three pitches for strikes, just one of those guys that the stuff isn’t going to necessarily blow you away, but it’s the pinpoint command that makes him very effective.”

Clemson’s bullpen has been crucial to its success this season, particularly in this series. Clemson followed its commanding game one win with a 3-2 victory in the second matchup, behind an impressive 7.0 inning pitching performance from left-handed sophomore Ethan Darden. Darden allowed just five hits and no earned runs to earn the win.

The Tigers return to Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Tuesday, April 9, to take on USC Upstate at 6 p.m.

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Brett Porter
Brett Porter, Senior Reporter
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