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Tigers gets swept by UCF in weekend series

Aralynn Minnick // Asst. Photo Editor

Clemson shortstop Benjamin Blackwell slides into second base against UCF at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Feb. 24, 2023.

In game three of the weekend series against UCF, Clemson baseball fell 13-6 to the Knights at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday. 

Another back-and-forth slugging battle left the Tigers (4-3) with their third loss of the season, and it was a five-run seventh inning by the Knights that ultimately kept Clemson from clawing its way back into the game. 

The Tigers fought back in the first inning after a three-run start by UCF, bringing in four runs in response. Sophomore Will Taylor brought in two of the runs on a double down the left-field line. Along with Taylor’s two RBIs, freshman Cam Cannarella and junior Caden Grice each scored one run. 

Taylor helped push his team with a strong plate performance. The designated hitter led the Tigers with two RBIs and also tied up the game 5-5 in the fourth inning off a fielder’s choice.

“Seeing him hit the ball the way he did provides a pretty significant jolt to our offense,” Bakich said. “He’s a true weapon offensively, for sure.” 

Also strong on offense was Cooper Ingle, who took credit for the only Clemson home run of the day in the sixth, which was the junior’s second homer of the year. 
Ingle’s homer wasn’t nearly enough, and the Tigers remained scoreless thereafter. Still, Ingle isn’t discouraged after his team’s third straight loss. 

“It’s going to help us, in the long run, to get to battle some adversity here early rather than later in the season,” Ingle said after the loss. “We can use that to our advantage.” 

In the seventh, the Knights got ahead with five runs, three unearned. To head coach Erik Bakich, this was the defining inning. 

“I felt like that seventh inning today turned out to be a knockout punch, and it shouldn’t have been,” Bakich said.

Clemson’s performance on the mound was shaky throughout the day. Starting pitcher Jay Dill let up three runs in the first inning alone and four total earned runs in just 3.1 innings before he was relieved by freshman Joe Allen. 

Once Allen got the Tigers out of a bases-loaded situation in the fourth, the right-handed freshman allowed just one additional run and two hits in the fifth. 

Bakich used a fair share of his team’s pitching arsenal throughout the game. Four additional Tigers entered the mound after Allen’s 1.2 innings. 

As for the team’s composure in gameplay, Bakich finds that steady. 

“I thought we have so far been doing a good job of responding when we needed to,” Bakich said. “As disappointing as this is right here, this is going to be a very valuable experience for us moving forward as we go into this week and move into conference play and the rest of the season.” 

In the team’s mind, this loss is not holding the Tigers back. If anything, it will get Bakich’s program even more ready when championship season arrives. 

“The champion teams are the ones who are battle-tested,” Bakich added. “It is very rarely the ones who are untested and go wire to wire with an unscathed season where they have no weaknesses. It’s the teams who had that adversity along the way.”

Clemson will play USC Upstate on Tuesday before hosting No. 23 South Carolina at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday to start its rivalry weekend.

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Kiley Bouchard, Senior Reporter
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