Is a wounded Tiger extra dangerous or just weak? That’s what the Jackets will learn this weekend as the owners of an recent 8 game losing streak only broken this Wednesday come to town. The Jackets, as we know, were riding high after winning the season series over Auburn last week, over VPI last weekend, and over uga at SunTrust this week. Better be careful!
Xzavion Curry (4-2, 4.05) would try to win the opening game of a series for the first time since at Louisville on March 22. He faced freshman RHP Davis Sharpe (5-2, 2.48). Sharpe lasted longer, but got the loss as Clemson never led and Tech took advantage of Tiger miscues.
The Jackets scored twice without a hit in the bottom of the 1st, when Sharpe walked Waddell and McCann, balked them over a base, and Tristin English drove in one with a scorching line drive the center fielder barely caught. Then, an error by the first baseman on an easy grounder to 2nd by Radcliff allowed McCann to score. The Tigers answered with a solo homer by Bryar Hawkins (remember that name) of Cumming in their 2nd to make it 2-1. They tied it in the 3rd after a leadoff single that got to 2nd on an error and another single put runners on the corners with one out. McCann caught the runner from 1st trying to steal, but a two out double by Logan Davidson scored the run.
The Tigers put runners on the corners with no outs in their 4th on a leadoff double and infield single. Curry’s control was clearly off, forcing him to groove fastballs. But, Xzavion dug deep, and closed out the inning with two K’s on 3-2 counts and a pop fly to left, keeping it tied at two.
The Jackets broke the tie in their half of the 4th, with English leading off with Tech’s first hit and moving around to score on a groundout, error on the third baseman, and sacrifice fly by Austin Wilhite. Jonathan Hughes came in to pitch the fifth. After a two out walk, a double down the right field line was handled beautifully by Tech, getting the runner at home on the relay, Radcliff to Wilhite to McCann. The call was upheld on review.
After the Jackets loaded the bases on two walks and a bunt single to lead off their 5th, lefty sophomore Sam Weatherly relieved Sharpe. McCann drove in one with a sacrifice fly to right, and a double steal scored Waddell, making it 5-2 after five.
Kyle Wilkie led off the Clemson sixth with one of the very few homers over the center field batter’s eye, making it 5-3. Another single and two out RBI double scored their 4th run, right after what looked to be strike three wasn’t called.
Weatherly struck out the first two Jackets in the 6th before hitting Nick Wilhite and giving up a single to Luke Waddell. He was relieved by graduate righty Luke Sommerfeld with runners on the corners but he got out of it.
Hughes came back for the 7th, but was relieved by Luke Bartnicki after walking the leadoff batter. Luke walked his first batter, too, before catching the runner trying to steal third base on him. After a fielder’s choice out at 2nd, Hugh Chapman came in with a runner on first and two outs to face Wilkie, who had doubled and homered his last two at-bats. Hugh struck him out.
McCann led off the Tech 7th with a line drive shot over the right field wall to make it 6-4. English doubled next. After he moved to third on a wild pitch, Radcliff doubled over the drawn in infield to make it 7-4. After Radcliff made it to third with two outs, the Tigers went to the bullpen again with freshman LHP Justin Wrobleski. The young man from Canton walked Webb, Wilhite, and Waddell to force in the 8th Jacket run – the ultimate deciding run. Another freshman, RHP Chad Fairey came to the mound and retired Guldberg.
Tristin English came in to pitch the 8th. Unfortunately, Bryar Hawkins made his night four for four with his second homerun, making it 8-5. Luke Waddell then made two sparkling plays at short for the first two outs before Tristin got out three with a strikeout. Tech failed to score in their 8th.
Battling hard, Clemson pulled within one on Logan Davidson’s two run homer to center field, then a single brought up hot batter Wilkie. He was retired for out two when Guldberg made a nice play on a shallow foul popup at the fence. Next, Bryar Hawkins was back, with his two homers – one off Tristin – and four for four night. Tristin struck him out to preserve the win 8-7 and the Jackets’ first win to open a series since Louisville over a month ago. Tech improved to 29-13 (14-8) and the Tigers fell to 26-17 (11-11). Hughes got the win, Sharpe the loss. The Tigers out hit Tech 13-6, but 9 Jackets walked and the Tigers made three errors to one for Tech.
I want to thank all the football fans who spent the first hour of their evening at Russ Chandler before helping break the Spring game attendance record. Come back again!