GRICE STRIKES OUT 11 AS NO.18 CLEMSON SWEEPS NO.22 LOUISVILLE 7-3
- 2023-05-08 07:41:49
CLEMSON, SC - The red-hot Tigers clinched their 5th straight ACC series win 4-3 over No.22 Louisville on Saturday by the skin of their teeth. They had a 4-1 lead with 6 outs to go, but Clayton walked the bases loaded with no outs in the 8th, and the Cards were able to cut the lead to one going into the 9th. Fortunately, Hughes was able to close the books on the Cards with his first save of the season. Starter Austin Gordon was tremendous on the mound but got another no-decision despite 6 scoreless innings. For some reason, the Tigers never seem to score for him, and he's had a few no-decisions that should have been wins this season. Clayton started the 7th and gave up a leadoff HR to tie the game, thus he was credited with the win, improving to 5-0 on the season. The Tigers capitalized on 6 walks with RBI's from Taylor, Grice and Amick. Bertram was 3-4 with 2 stolen bases. The Tigers had lost 5 straight one-run games before Saturday, but this is a different team now!
Sunday's game was tight early with Grice on the mound. He put the leadoff man on base in each of the first 5 innings but was bailed out by Ingle on 3 stolen base attempts, including a couple strike-em-out, throw-em-outs, that were inning killers for the Cards. A 2-out double put the Cards up 1-0 in the 1st, but Taylor responded in the bottom half with a 2-run HR, his 3rd of the season, to put the Tigers ahead 2-1. The Tigers have done a great job answering offensively when they've given up runs during this winning stretch. Taylor had a hot series, going 6-8 with 3 walks and 4 RBI's. The Cards would tie the game in the 2nd thanks to a leadoff walk, a failed pick-off attempt and a single, but the Tigers, once again, answered in the next inning. Crighton led off the inning with a double, and a dropped line drive by Ingle put the Tigers back in front 3-2. I asked Bakich on Friday about Crighton pinch hitting and going 2-2, and he went on to have an enormous series. He had just 2 hits in the very first series of the season against Binghamton and didn't post another hit until Friday. He reached base on 9 of 10 at bats this weekend, going 5-6 with 3 walks, 2 doubles and 4 runs scored! He was expected to be a regular starter at the beginning of the season, and he made a real bid this weekend to lock up that spot in right field. Let's hope that continues!
The Tigers added 2 more runs in the 6th with a leadoff HR by Amick, his 8th of the season, and a passed ball with the bases loaded. Grice left the mound with one out in the 7th with a career-high 11 K's, surpassing his record of 9 K's last week at No.11 Boston College. Garris gave up a sac fly to make it 6-3, but Taylor scored in the bottom half on another passed ball to make it 7-3. He drew a leadoff walk on 4 pitches and got all the way home on wild pitches and the passed ball. Base running was a big story line all weekend in this series, and it favored the Tigers for the most part. After another good outing from Garris, Tallent made his first appearance in two weeks to pitch the 8th, and Ammons came in from the pen with 2 on and 2 outs in the 9th, getting a game-ending fly on his first pitch. Ingle was 2-4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI's, Taylor was 2-3 with the 2-run HR and Amick had the other homer.
It had to be personally gratifying for Bakich to sweep future Hall-of-Famer Dan McDonnell, someone for whom he has the utmost respect, in his first season at Clemson! In fact, Bakich told me after the game that McDonnell was the only former SEC coach that he invited to his wedding, and Bakich considers him a great mentor. You can watch him talk more about that below. Perhaps this weekend portends a passing of the torch or changing of the guard, as the Tigers used to be kings of the ACC, but Louisville has been atop the conference for the past several years under McDonnell. It was the Tigers' second series sweep in three weeks and 5th straight ACC series win. They've won 14 of their last 17 games and are in prime position to host an NCAA Regional if they can take care of business these last couple weeks of the regular season. Up next, they play a top-10 Coastal Carolina team, who they beat last month, on the road on Tuesday. Then they'll stay on the road at VA Tech next weekend. They wrap up the regular season with UNC at home the following weekend.
My post-game interviews are below!
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