Clemson, SC- Top-ranked Clemson improved its home-winning streak to 11 games with a 5-1 victory over Mercer in front of 4,702 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium Friday. The Tigers improved to 4-0, and the Bears dropped to 8-3.
Brad Chalk had two bunt singles, and Marquez Smith and Travis Storrer each had two-RBI doubles to lead the Tigers. Tyler McCarty was 2-for-2 for the Bears.
Jason Berken entered the game on a pitch count, and because the Clemson Coaching Staff had predetermined to use three pitchers or more, he was able to earn the win despite pitching only 4.0 innings. Berken struck out three and gave up five hits in four innings to improve to 2-0. Brantley New surrendered three runs on six hits in 6.0 innings and suffered his first loss of the season for the Bears, and fell to 2-1.
The Tigers avoided early trouble in the second. Mercer loaded the bases with one out after Andrew Einert was hit by a pitch, and McCarty and Billy Shaughnessy both singled. However, Berken got John Dortch to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Clemson opened the scoring in the third. Herman Demmink walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on Chalk's second bunt single of the game. Tyler Colvin then lined out to short and Storrer flew out to center. Smith picked them up, however, with a double down the left field line that scored both Demmink and Chalk. After the throw home, Smith was thrown out trying to reach third.
With two outs and nobody on in the fifth, Colvin hit a line drive home run to center, his fourth of the season.
The Bears loaded the bases in the sixth with no outs after walks to Shawn Barrett and Josh Thompson, and a single by Einert, but could not score. Tiger reliever P. J. Zocchi got Jason Lowey to foul out to third, and then gave way to Daniel Moskos. Moskos struck out pinch-hitter Mike Armstrong, and then got Shaughnessy to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but New got Adrian Casanova to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Chalk was hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh and Colvin walked. Chalk went to third and Colvin advanced to second after a wild pitch, and they each scored on a two-RBI double down the left field line by Storrer.
Sean McCahill hit a sacrifice fly that scored Steve Karwatt in the ninth for the only Mercer run of the game.
The Tiger pitching staff has only given up two earned runs in 36.0 innings pitched this season.
Clemson and Mercer will play game two of their three-game series Saturday at 4:00 PM at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.