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Baseball: Jackets Drop 2 of 3 to #5 Clemson, Continue Seeking First Series Win in ACC Play

It was a different weekend and a different opponent, but the same story for the Yellow Jackets.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

The #5-ranked Clemson Tigers brought their 22-4 (8-1) record to Atlanta seeking to protect their perfect 5-0 road record this year, including a sweep at Boston College last weekend as part of an 8-game winning streak. They were also seeking to win the season series over Georgia Tech for the first time since 2013. Last season in Clemson, the Jackets recovered from a heartbreaking loss in the second game to win the series on Sunday. The Tigers are certainly the best college baseball team within 150 miles right now.

Friday: #5 Clemson 11, Georgia Tech 6

W: Charlie Barnes (3-2) | L: Xzavion Curry (3-3)

Xzavion Curry (3-2, 4.6 ERA) went against left-handed junior Charlie Barnes (2-2, 2.12 ERA). Barnes had started the middle game against Tech last year and given up 8 hits and 5 earned runs in 5.1 innings for no decision.

After two scoreless innings, the Tigers took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run to lead off the 3rd from Grayson Byrd. The Jackets tied the game in the bottom of the frame when Trevor Craport singled in Austin Wilhite.

Curry got into serious trouble in the 4th and walked in the go-ahead run. A Clemson single plated two more and another walk loaded the bases again before another single made it 6-1. There were five singles and three walks in the inning. Clemson had taken a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Curry’s night ended after he issued his fifth walk of the game with one out in the 5th,and Jared Datoc came in and scored a double play ball to end the inning. Unfortunately, Datoc couldn't shut Clemson down in the 6th as the Tigers broke it open with three more runs on four singles and a double. Tech got two runs back when Coleman Poje homered to drive in Kel Johnson, and Kyle McCann just missed a home run of his own before falling down and being thrown out trying to stretch a single into what should have been a sure double. The Clemson lead was 9-3 heading into the 7th inning.

Andy Archer came in for the Jackets in the 7th, and pitched around two singles and a walk, helped by some excellent defense from Joey Bart and Poje. Bailey Combs pitched a scoreless 8th for Georgia Tech, before Jake Lee gave up two insurance runs in the 9th.

With an 11-3 lead, Alex Schnell came in to pitch for Clemson in the 9th. The Jackets managed to put up three on a pinch-hit double by Brandt Stallings and singles by McCann, Wilhite, and Bailey, but it was too little, too late. Clemson won by a final score of 11-6. Curry got the loss, Barnes the win, and the Jackets fell to 3-7 in ACC play. Clemson out-hit Georgia Tech 18 to 11.

Saturday: Georgia Tech 5, #5 Clemson 1

W: Jay Shadday (2-1) | L: Alex Eubanks (4-2)

Jay Shadday (1-1, 2.5 ERA) started against redshirt sophomore righty Alex Eubanks (4-1, 2.23 ERA). After regularly starting on Saturdays so far this season, Jonathan Hughes must still be having trouble.

Shadday pitched the game of his young career. With Tigers at second and third with only one out in the first inning, Shadday shut down Clemson without allowing a run.

Shadday and Eubanks swapped scoreless innings until the bottom of the 3rd. Austin Wilhite started with a lead off double and was moved to third by Keenan Innis and driven in by Ryan Peurifoy. The Jackets missed another run when Craport tried to score on a Wade Bailey single but was called out at home on a close play. (Replay seemed to show him safe.) Georgia Tech led 1-0 after three innings.

Clemson led off their 4th with a double, but Shadday regrouped and got out of the inning with the lead intact.

A Kel Johnson solo home in the bottom of the fourth made it 2-0, and Shadday got through the top of the 5th unharmed. Wilhite doubled and Peurifoy homered in the bottom of the inning to push the Jackets’ lead to 4-0, before doubles by Bailey and Bart made it 5-0.

The always-dangerous Tigers answered in the 6th with a leadoff double by Chris Williams -- his second of the game. He was driven in by Drew Wharton, who moved to third on a Reed Rohlman single. However, Shadday again regrouped and got the final two outs to prevent any more damage and keep Georgia Tech’s lead at 5-1.

Robert Winborne came in for the Jackets in the top of the 7th. Winborne retired the side and recorded two outs in the 8th, but was pulled for Zac Ryan after he hit Clemson’s Reed Rohlman. Ryan got a fly ball out to keep it 5-1. The Jackets loaded the bases without a hit in the 8th, but couldn’t get any insurance as Jeremy Beasley came in and recorded the inning’s final two outs.

Ryan came back in the ninth to try and close out the game. He walked two, adding to the drama before a final fielder’s choice groundout sealed the win.

Shadday got the win, Eubanks the loss. The Jackets improved to 4-7 in ACC play, and Clemson had their first road loss since last year. Walks continued to plague Tech with seven today, but they were all stranded.

Sunday: #5 Clemson 13, Georgia Tech 6

W: Pat Krall (5-0) | L: Ben Schneiderjans (1-2)

Ben Schneiderjans (1-1, 2.79) pitched for Tech on five days’ rest against senior lefty Pat Krall (4-0, 3.31 ERA). Krall had gotten the win in relief last year against Tech with three shutout innings. For the fourth Sunday in a row, the Jackets had a chance to win a weekend series.

Things started poorly, with Schneiderjans walking two before giving up a single, double and sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 after the top of the first inning. Georgia Tech got one back in the bottom of the frame after Craport doubled and scored on a Bart groundout. The Tigers immediately blew the game open with a leadoff double, a single, and another walk in the 2nd, ending Schneiderjans’ day early. Coach Danny Hall brought in Robert Winborne with the bases loaded and no outs in the second, and Rohlman hit a two-strike pitch over the right field wall to make it a 7-1 Clemson lead. From there, Seth Beer doubled, Chris Williams homered to left, and Logan Davidson homered to right -- suddenly, Clemson led 10-1. Winborne was done. Andy Archer came in to finish out the 2nd. I admit to leaving in dismay at this point; the celebrating orange all around me was too much. So, from here on is a brief summary.

Clemson scored three more on Archer in the 3rd to make the lead 13-1. The Jackets got one back in the 5th when Bailey doubled and Johnson drove him in. They added four more in the 8th, starting with Nick Wilhite singling in his twin brother (Austin) for his first career RBI, and adding more later when a Kyle McCann three-run double cut the lead to 13-6. The Jackets had a defensive highlight with Peurifoy throwing out a base runner at home in the top of the 8th and Garrett Gooden made his first successful mound appearance in the 9th, setting down the Tigers 1-2-3.

The seven-run 2nd proved fatal, as Georgia Tech fell by a final score of 13-6. Krall got the win, Schneiderjans the loss. Combs, Lee, Carpenter, Gooden, Gibson, and Dulaney all pitched scoreless innings, with only five hits and three walks, a positive sign.

Bottom Line

Tech again failed to win on Sunday, lost its fourth straight ACC series and fell to 4-8 in conference. Pitching remains the huge problem and the coaches may try anything in future games. A Tuesday trip to Auburn and a weekend at Notre Dame are upcoming. I’m planning to go up to South Bend, so expect an on-scene report.