April 25, 2010
Clemson, SC –
Pinch-hitter Brett Knief’s two-out double in the top of the ninth inning scored the go-ahead run and North Carolina escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth to edge #20 Clemson 4-3 in front of 4,777 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Tar Heels, who won the series 2-1, improved to 25-17 overall and 8-13 in the ACC. The Tigers dropped to 25-16 overall and 11-10 in ACC play.
The Tar Heels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Clemson answered with one run in the bottom of the first and two runs in the second. Neither team dented the scoreboard again until the ninth inning, when pinch-hitter Ryan Graepel started the rally with a two-out single and scored the winning run from first on Knief’s double to right-center.
North Carolina starter Patrick Johnson (4-3) pitched 8.1 strong innings to earn the win. He allowed seven hits, three runs (one earned), and three walks with six strikeouts in throwing 129 pitches. Greg Holt pitched the final 0.2 innings to record his third save of the year.
Will Lamb (3-4) took the loss, as he gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. The Tigers were unable to take advantage of freshman Dominic Leone’s stellar outing in his first career ACC start. He pitched a career-high 8.0 innings, allowing seven hits, three runs, and one walk with three strikeouts. The first three Tar Heel batters of the game crossed home plate, but after Leone surrendered a leadoff single in the third inning, he yielded just one hit and no runs over his last 6.0 innings pitched.
The Tar Heels wasted little time taking the game’s first lead in the top of the first inning. Mike Cavasinni led off with a hit-by-pitch. Ben Bunting followed with a single through the left side to move Cavasinni to third as Bunting advanced to second on the throw to third. Levi Michael then lofted a high flyball to deep left-center that fell for a triple to score Cavasinni and Bunting. After Jesse Wierzbicki reached on an error and Brian Goodwin fouled out, Dillon Hazlett singled up the middle to score Michael.
In the bottom of the first inning, Mike Freeman lined a one-out single to center, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on Kyle Parker’s bloop single to left-center.
In the second inning, Will Lamb reached on a fielding error. John Nester then laced a double down the left-field line to score Boyd. Richie Shaffer lofted a sacrifice fly to right to plate Lamb and tie the score 3-3.
After six scoreless innings, the Tar Heels took the lead in the top of the ninth inning. After the first two batters were retired, Graepel came off the bench and lined a single to right field. Knief came off the bench and laced a double to right-center to score Graepel.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Boyd led off with a single to left field on a 3-2 pitch and went to second on Lamb’s sacrifice bunt. After Nester walked, Shaffer reached on a perfectly placed infield single on the left side to load the bases with one out. Holt was down in the count 3-0 to Chris Epps before throwing a strike. Then on a 3-1 pitch, the home-plate umpire called a strike as Shaffer headed for second base thinking it was ball #4. Catcher Jacob Stallings threw to first base to easily pick off Shaffer for out #2. Epps then struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the game’s final out.
Bunting paced the Tar Heels’ nine-hit attack by going 3-for-4 with a run. Boyd had a team-high two hits for the Tigers, who had eight hits in the game. Clemson suffered its first home series loss since 2008 and fell to 0-11 in its last 11 games decided by two runs or less, seven of which have been one-run defeats.
The Tigers will be off five days for final exams before they return to action for a four-game series at home against Florida Gulf Coast starting Saturday at 6:30 PM.
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