NO.4 CLEMSON RALLIES TO BEAT NO.11 MIAMI 11-5 FOR 16TH STRAIGHT WIN AND RECORD 11TH ACC TOURNAMENT TITLE
- 2023-05-29 16:15:12
DURHAM, NC - Well, we didn't get the dream matchup of the hottest team in the country, Clemson, against the top-ranked team, Wake Forest in the ACC Championship thanks to the Canes' upset win over the Deacs in the Semifinal. They won't admit it, but I'm sure the Tigers wanted another shot at Wake, who swept the Tigers at Doug Kingsmore early in the season. The Tigers had the winning run on base in the 9th in two of those three games, and that was before they started playing like a top-10 team! Still, No.11 Miami is no slouch as the No.4 seed in the tournament, and since the two teams did not meet during the regular season, it would make for an interesting matchup.
As they've done throughout the tournament and for several weeks, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead. Cannarella led off the 1st with a full-count walk, and Taylor singled, extending his on-base streak to 7 straight at bats. Grice broke the ice with an RBI single, his 9th of the tournament. Bertram hit a clutch 2-out single for another run to make it 2-0. The Tigers added another run in the 2nd on a 2-out solo HR by Cannarella, his 6th of the season. The ACC Freshman of the Year tripled twice in the Semifinal against UNC.
However, the Canes would not go down without a fight. Darden gave up a leadoff double followed by an RBI single and a hit batter on full count. Clayton came out of the pen to replace him, but a wild pitch with 2 outs made the score 3-2. The Canes tied the game 3-3 with a leadoff HR off Clayton in the 4th. The following inning, Clayton gave up a 2-out double to give the Canes their first lead of the game 4-3. Tristan Smith came out of the pen and proceeded to walk the next two batters for another run to make it 5-3. That made 5 unanswered runs for the Canes, and the Tigers hadn't scored for 4 straight innings, so going into the 7th inning, many wondered if the Tigers' win streak would finally come to an end in the championship game.
The Tigers answered that question with an emphatic NO! Taylor led off with a walk, reaching base for the 9th time in 10 at bats! Then Grice singled, and Amick crushed a double off the top of the wall in left. That made it 5-4 with 2nd and 3rd, no outs. The Clemson crowd was going nuts at this point, and then they came unhinged when transfer Riley Bertram came up to the plate and crushed a 3-run HR to right field, retaking the lead 7-5! Bertram is the last player on the field anyone would have expected that from. He's a great defensive 2nd baseman and a good hitter but not known as a power hitter by any stretch. In fact, this was his first HR as a Tiger and just the 3rd of his five-year career. What a moment for it! I kept waiting for the guy to show up who batted over .400 in the NCAA Tournament for Michigan, and he's been playing like that guy over the past few weeks.
With the 7-5 lead and no outs, the Tigers weren't done yet. Wright singled, and Crighton sac bunted him to 2nd with 2 outs. Cannarella hit a deep fly to the track in left, and the fielder's legs got tangled, dropping the ball. The Cane's defense had been outstanding during the tournament and the entire game until that. The error made it 8-5 and put Cannarella on 2nd. Ingle drew a walk, and Will Taylor, who began the 7th inning rally with a leadoff walk, hit a 3-run HR to make it 11-5. The ball bounced back into the field, and everyone thought it hit off the top of the railing over the wall in left. However, with Taylor standing at 2nd base, the TV replay clearly showed that the ball easily cleared the rail, but a Miami fan tried to catch it and dropped it back into the field! Bakich just got the review challenge called in the nick of time before the next pitch, and the umpires confirmed the homer. The Tigers scored 8 runs in the inning and 4 of them with 2 outs!
Lindley did a good job keeping the Canes off the scoreboard in the 6th and 7th. Ammons, the closer, came in to pitch the 8th and struck out the side. He loaded the bases in the 9th with a couple of walks and an error, but he got a strikeout swinging to end the game, and the dog pile ensued! Cannarella, Ingle and Bertram made the all-tournament team, and Grice was named MVP. Ingle played through a lot of pain with a hurt knee from fouling a pitch off of it in the Semifinal. It had to be really painful, squatting behind the plate for 9 innings, but he fought through it, going 2-4 with a double and a walk. As he was running to 2nd on the double, you could see that it was really bothering him. Hopefully it will heal by next weekend! Ingle was 3-3 with an RBI before leaving the Semifinal due to the knee. I thought Taylor should have made the all-tournament team as well. He was 6-12 with a 3-run HR and finished the tournament reaching base 10 of 11 times!
The Tigers have won 11 ACC Tournament titles, 2 more than any other school. It's a crazy coincidence that the Tigers' last was in Monte Lee's first season in 2016, and that was also in Durham! Even stranger is that the Tigers' last 5 head coaches all won conference titles in their first year--going all the way back to the 50's!
The Tigers have won 16 straight games and 21 of 22 heading into the NCAA Tournament as the hottest team in the country! The only question on Selection Monday will be how high their seed will be because they are a lock for a top-8 national seed. That means they will host both the Regional and Super Regional. They won't have to leave the friendly confines of Doug Kingsmore unless they make it to Omaha. My guess is they will be a 3 or 4 seed on Monday.
Post-game celebration, trophies, highlights and my post-game interviews are below!
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