Note: The following appears in the June issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.
I can tell you with certainty that I will never again in my life witness what happened on May 23 of this year. Our baseball Tigers entered the 2018 ACC Tournament as the No. 2 seed and had to play their first game against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were the designated home team, so Clemson played as the visitor.
Clemson went to the top of the fourth inning trailing 3-1. Then over the next 55 minutes, the Tigers proceeded to send 21 batters to the plate, with 17 of them touching home. Clemson went on to win 21-4. The game was called after seven innings, because the ACC plays its tournament with a “mercy” rule, which states that if a team is leading by 10 or more runs after seven innings, the game is over.
The 17 runs set an ACC Tournament record for runs in an inning and were the third-most runs in an inning in school history, including the most since scoring a school-record 19 runs against Maryland on March 21, 1998.
Clemson banged out four home runs in the inning, one by Chris Williams, one by Seth Beer and two by Logan Davidson. The homers by Davidson came from both sides of the plate. Just six days earlier at Pittsburgh, Davidson became the first Tiger in history to homer from both sides of the plate in a game. Now, he did it in one inning. To put this in perspective, there have been only three MLB players who have accomplished that feat.
The first of Davidson’s long balls was a two-run shot from the left side of the plate. His second was a grand slam from the right side of the plate. That’s eight total bases and six RBIs in one inning. He also picked up another RBI later in the game to set Clemson’s ACC Tournament record with seven RBIs in a game.
Chris Williams, Patrick Cromwell and Drew Wharton each had three plate appearances in the inning. Williams walked, singled, homered and score three runs in the magical fourth inning. How many times have you seen one player score three runs in one inning?
Now, all of what I have mentioned is pretty memorable stuff to see in one inning, but my most memorable thing of the entire inning happened to Clemson DH Justin Hawkins. His first at-bat of the inning was a sacrifice fly to center that scored Williams from third base. By the time he came to the plate for the second time in the inning, Williams was on second base and Wharton was on first base.
The first pitch to Hawkins was a ball and the second was a wild pitch that moved Williams to third and Wharton to second. The count was 2-0 to Hawkins, and Notre Dame made a pitching change. The first pitch the new hurler threw went by the catcher to the backstop. As the pitcher came to cover the plate, Williams broke for home to score. The two collided, and the pitcher flipped on his back and was injured, forcing him to leave the game. Williams was safe at home and Wharton moved to third base.
The count was 3-0 to Hawkins, and another pitcher came on to pitch. For the first time in my life, I was about to see one batter face three different pitchers in one plate appearance. Head coach Monte Lee later told me he had never seen that happen before, and when I asked all those on the Clemson staff, it was a first for them as well.