Cullowhee, NC –
Jon McGibbon‘s run-scoring single in the ninth inning gave #17 Clemson the lead and the Tigers added two more runs in the frame to defeat Western Carolina 12-9 in front of 1,373 fans at Hennon Stadium on Tuesday night. The Tigers improved to 22-11 on the season, while the Catamounts dropped to 19-16. The two teams will conclude their home-and-home season series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson on April 24.
The Tigers scored nine combined runs in the first four innings to build a 9-3 lead, but the Catamounts rallied for six runs, four of which were unearned, in the seventh inning to tie the score. Clemson responded with three clutch hits in the ninth inning to up its winning streak to six games, its longest winning streak since its eight-game streak in 2011.
Patrick Andrews (1-1) pitched 1.1 perfect innings in relief with two strikeouts to earn the win, then Scott Firth pitched a scoreless ninth inning with one strikeout to record his first save of the season.
Jon Nadale (0-2), the fourth of six Catamount pitchers, suffered the loss despite tossing a season-long 5.0 innings. He gave up just three hits, one run, and no walks with four strikeouts.
In the top of the first inning, Thomas Brittle reached on a one-out, bunt single and Garrett Boulware lined a single to right-center. After Shane Kennedy walked to load the bases, Steve Wilkerson laced a single to left field to score Brittle and Boulware.
Aaron Attaway led off the bottom of the first inning with a single through the right side and advanced to third on Julian Ridings’ double to right-center. Tyler White’s groundout to short plated Attaway, then Jacob Hoyle ripped a 1-2 pitch down the right-field line for a double to plate Ridings and tie the score 2-2.
Clemson regained the lead in the second inning. McGibbon led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second on Jay Baum‘s sacrifice bunt. Two batters later with two outs, Brittle reached on an infield single on a 1-2 pitch and McGibbon scored on the play when Curtis’ throw to first was errant.
In the top of the third inning, Kennedy led off with a bunt single and Wilkerson walked. Curtis misplayed Steven Duggar‘s sacrifice bunt to load the bases with no outs, then Tyler Krieger lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Kennedy. McGibbon followed with a single through the right side to score Wilkerson and Duggar. After Baum singled to right field, Attaway booted Slaton’s grounder at short, allowing McGibbon to score and give Clemson a 7-2 lead.
Attaway led off the bottom of the third inning with a single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch, then Ridings reached on a bunt single. After both runners moved up a base on White’s groundout to short, Hoyle hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Attaway.
In the fourth inning, Wilkerson and Duggar drew one-out walks, then Krieger lined a single to center to score Wilkerson. McGibbon followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Duggar.
The Catamounts took advantage of a costly Tiger error to score six runs in the seventh inning. Attaway led off with a double to right field and scored two batters later on White’s one-out double over the third-base bag. Hoyle and Dykota Spiess walked to load the bases, then Bryant Noteboom hit a slow grounder to Wilkerson at second, who booted the ball as White scored. After Hoyle was retired at home on Austin Neary’s fielder’s choice to third, Strong flared a two-out single to left-center on an 0-2 pitch to score Spiess and Noteboom, then Adam Martin grounded a single up the middle to plate Neary and Strong, tying the score 9-9.
Duggar lined a one-out double to left-center in the top of the ninth inning, then Krieger walked. McGibbon followed with a line-drive single to right field to score Duggar, giving the Tigers a 10-9 lead. Pinch-hitter Joe Costigan struck out, but McGibbon stole second and Krieger stole home on the play. Slaton followed with a single to left field to score McGibbon.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Noteboom fouled out, then Neary laced an 0-2 pitch down the left-field line for a double. Strong struck out for out #2, then Martin belted a pitch to deep left field, but Slaton made a running catch near the wall to end the game.
Every Tiger starter had at least one hit, as Clemson totaled 14 hits in all. McGibbon went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, three runs, and one steal. Krieger went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, one run, one walk, and one steal. Duggar added three runs as well.
Attaway led Western Carolina’s 12-hit attack by going 4-for-5 with a double and three runs.
Clemson will host Presbyterian College at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Wednesday at 6:30 PM.
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