|by David Hood|
The offense then took advantage of the old “better late than never” adage by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth, six in the seventh and three more in the eighth in claiming a 12-2 victory over William & Mary on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, winning the series two games to one.
Clemson’s offense managed just one hit through five innings, but pounded out 14 hits over the final three innings.
Firth tossed seven strong innings to pick up the win, giving up just two hits, walking one and striking out five. He threw 89 pitches, 60 for strikes, in shutting down the Tribe.
Firth said he wasn’t worried about the offense getting him some runs.
“I knew if I kept it close, and gave our guys a chance, we were going to come up with some big hits eventually,” Firth said. “A lot of guys had been hitting it pretty well without much to show for it. I knew they would start falling eventually, and they came in a bunch.”
Firth said he took it upon himself as a senior to set the tone in Sunday’s crucial rubber game.
“Obviously, after the game yesterday, we were a little disappointed in our performance,” he said. “Especially the pitching staff. That’s not how we practice or how we go about things. It was definitely important for me – you know I’m the old guy now and I’ve got a little bit of experience – and that is one of my jobs. If we are struggling and need a pick-me-up, it is my job to go out there and set the tone.”
Firth gave up a leadoff single in the fourth that turned into a run, but held the Tribe hitless over his final three innings of work, allowing the Clemson offense to get back in the game.
That started in the bottom of the sixth, when sophomore catcher Garrett Boulware doubled with one out. Thomas Brittle singled Boulware to third, and Steven Duggar drove him home with an RBI single to center. Both runners advanced on the throw. An RBI single by Steve Wilkerson and a fielder’s choice RBI by Shane Kennedy made it 3-1 Clemson after six innings.
The Tigers added six more in the seventh – Boulware had a two-run single and Wilkerson added a 3-run double as the Tigers were able to effectively put the game away. The Tigers added three more in the eighth as Leggett emptied his bench to get the reserves some much-needed playing time.
Leggett said Firth’s effort was exactly what the Tigers needed.
“Scottie had a good day for us,” he said. “He had a good breaking ball, and he had a good feel on his changeup and we played good defense behind him. The game started slow on offense for us – it took five innings to figure that kid, but we got some big hits there in the sixth inning. We had some two-out RBIs, and some two-strike RBIs.”
The Tigers return to action next Friday, hosting Wright St. in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Friday game starts at 4 p.m., Saturday starts at 2 p.m. and the Sunday game starts at 1 p.m.
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