Durham, NC –
Brian Holberton’s three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning tied the score, then #3 North Carolina scored five runs in the 14th inning in its 12-7 win over #14 Clemson in the ACC Tournament in front of 5,447 fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Friday night. The Tar Heels, who moved to 2-0 in the ACC Tournament, improved to 50-8 on the season. The Tigers, who dropped to 0-2 in the ACC Tourney, fell to 39-19 in 2013.
The Tigers took a 7-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning, but a leadoff walk and three singles set up Holberton’s dramatic three-run homer to tie the score. Clemson had the potential winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, 11th, 12th, and 13th innings, but the Tigers came up empty every time, leaving two runners on base in each of those frames. North Carolina capitalized with five runs on four hits in the 14th inning.
Reilly Hovis (3-0), the fifth of six Tar Heel pitchers, earned the win. In 5.0 innings pitched, he allowed just two hits, no runs, and five walks with two strikeouts.
Tiger reliever Scott Firth (6-5) suffered the loss, as he yielded seven hits, six runs, and two walks with three strikeouts in 5.0 innings pitched. Starter Zack Erwin pitched 5.1 effective innings, then Patrick Andrews struck out a career-high five batters in 2.0 scoreless innings pitched.
The Tar Heels took the game’s first lead in the first inning. Chaz Frank led off with a walk and Colin Moran walked two batters later with one out. Skye Bolt reached on a fielder’s choice as Moran was retired at second, then Cody Stubbs lined a two-out single to left-center to score Frank.
In the fourth inning, Shane Kennedy grounded a two-out single through the left side and stole second. Tyler Krieger then blooped a single to center to score Kennedy.
Thomas Brittle led off the fifth inning with a walk and advanced to second two batters later on Maleeke Gibson‘s one-out single through the left side. Two batters later, Steven Duggar laced a two-out triple to left-center to score Brittle and Gibson, giving Clemson a 3-1 lead.
Skye Bolt led off the top of the sixth inning with a double to right field and Michael Russsell reached two batters later with one out on an infield single on an 0-2 pitch. Holberton followed with a single to right-center to score Bolt.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Kennedy led off with a single to left field and moved to second on Krieger’s sacrifice bunt. After Jon McGibbon reached on an infield single and Brittle walked to load the bases, Mike Triller lined a single to center to score Kennedy and McGibbon.
Clemson added two insurance runs in the eighth inning. McGibbon led off with a single to right field and Brittle walked. After Triller’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners up a base, Gibson hit a grounder to first. Stubbs booted the grounder as McGibbon scored, then Stubbs’ errant throw to first allowed Brittle to score on Stubbs’ second error of the play.
Frank led off the ninth inning with a walk and Landon Lassiter reached on an infield single. Two batters later, Bolt hit a one-out single through the right side to load the bases, then Stubbs singled through the right side to score Frank. Russell lofted a sacrifice fly to left to score Lassiter, then with two outs, Holberton belted a three-run homer to right field, his 10th long ball of the season, to tie the score 7-7.
In the 13th inning, Kennedy lined a one-out single to right-center and stole second. After Krieger was intentionally walked and McGibbon was retired, Brittle hit a two-out line drive headed for right field. However, Stubbs snagged the liner at first to end the inning and extend the game.
Stubbs led off the 14th inning with a single to center on a 1-2 pitch and advanced to second on Russell’s sacrifice bunt. After Stubbs advanced to third on a passed ball, Holberton walked and stole second, then Mike Zolk chopped a 1-2 pitch in front of the plate. Firth’s throw to the plate was not in time as Stubbs slid in safely. Zach Daly reached on an infield single to load the bases, then Frank ripped a one-out triple down the right-field line to score Holberton, Zolk, and Daly. Lassiter added to the scoring with a single up the middle to score Frank.
Stubbs led North Carolina’s 19-hit attack by going 4-for-7 with two RBIs and two runs. Lassiter had three hits, while Frank, Bolt, Russell, Holberton, and Matt Roberts added two hits apiece. Holberton had a game-high four RBIs as well.
Kennedy went 3-for-5 with two runs and two steals to lead the Tigers, who totaled 11 hits. Gibson, McGibbon, and Triller added two hits apiece.
The game, which last five hours and 16 minutes, tied for the longest in terms of innings in Clemson’s ACC Tournament history. The Tigers also played a 14-inning game against Wake Forest in the 1986 ACC Tournament at Durham.
Clemson, who was already eliminated from advancing to the ACC Tournament title game due to N.C. State’s win over Miami (FL) earlier on Friday, will play the Hurricanes on Saturday at 3:00 PM at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Tigers will be the designated home team and occupy the third-base dugout.
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