Get out the brooms: Pinder's catch propels Tigers to three-game sweep
|Sunday, April 9, 2017, 4:20 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Amazing catches, timely hitting and clutch pitching were all straws in the broom Sunday as No. 4 Clemson defeated Virginia Tech 8-3 Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, sweeping the three-game series.
Clemson improved to 28-5 overall and 13-2 in ACC play, a game ahead of Louisville in the ACC Atlantic standings. Tech fell to 17-17 overall and 6-9 in league play. The Hokies are just 5-25 against Clemson since joining the ACC and are winless in their last 20 games at Clemson. The Hokies last win at Clemson was March 17, 1984, a 7-3 victory.
The sweep was the third in five ACC series for the Tigers this season.
Clemson head coach Monte Lee said after the game that if it weren't for the heroics of Greene and Pinder, the game might have had a different outcome.
"Thank the Lord for Chase Pinder and Jordan Greene," he said. "The game could’ve been a lot different if not for those two great defensive plays in the second inning. Bases loaded, Jordan Greene makes a great play on the fly ball down the line to keep them from scoring. Then, Pinder robs what would’ve been a grand slam. Just two great defensive plays. They scored two in the third, so it could’ve been 6-0 at that point, but it wasn’t and they gave us a fighting chance because of their great defensive plays on a day where didn’t play our best defense."
Krall ran into trouble in the second after a walk, an error and a single loaded the bases with one out. Jordan Greene made an over the shoulder catch in short right for the second out, but Tech’s Jack Ownes launched what looked like a grand slam to center.
Chase Pinder climbed the wall, however, reaching over the wall to rob Owens and the Hokies of any runs.
Tech scored two in the third on three singles and Clemson’s second error of the day for a 2-0 lead.
Clemson finally broke through in the fourth. Seth Beer was hit in right shoulder to lead off the inning, the eighth time he’s been plunked this season. Williams singled up the middle, and Davidson walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Andrew Cox drilled a shot off the wall in center, scoring Beer and Williams to tie the score at 2-2.
Davidson went back to tag at first on the play and only advanced to second, prompting Jolly to drop down a bunt that advanced Davidson and Cox. Greene then laced a double to left to score both runners, and Clemson led 4-2 at the end of four.
The Tigers added two more in the fifth, and they did it with two out. Williams was hit by a pitch with two out, stole second, and Davidson walked. Cox walked to load the bases, and Jolly laced a single down the left field line that scored both Williams and Davidson for a 6-2 lead.
Lee said his team had a good day at the plate and did just enough in the field to earn the win.
"You look at the at-bats we had in the fourth and the fifth and we had six great at-bats in a row capped off by Greene's two-strike double down the line to give us a big inning," he said. "We scored four runs and kind of broke it open there in the fourth inning. Then in the fifth with two outs, a hit by pitch to Williams, back-to-back 3-2 count walks where we won those at-bats and then Robert Jolly with the big double scored two runs. Overall, we pitched pretty good. Defense was good enough. We had a nice day at the plate where we swung the bats, took advantage of some walks, had some two-out hits and did some things. Played a pretty good baseball game and it's always good to finish on a high note on the weekend."
Krall’s day was done in the sixth – he went 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned), walking two and striking out three.
Byrd and Pinder singled to lead off the sixth, and Byrd scored Clemson’s seventh run on a single by Rohlman to right for a 7-2 lead. The Hokies added a run off of reliever Patrick Andrews in the seventh that made it 7-3, but Jacob Hennessy got out of the jam by inducing a foul out to third.
In the eighth, Pinder singled on a roller to right, advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on Beer’s liner down the first base line for an 8-3 lead.
Lee said he wants his team to enjoy the sweep but also focus on the difficult tasks of the upcoming week.
"Great weekend and we've got a tough week ahead of us," he said. "We've got to turn right back around and get ready for Charleston Southern on Tuesday and then we go to Tallahassee and we all know how tough it is to win in Tallahassee. We've got a big week ahead of us. Guys need to rest, recover a little bit, enjoy what's always a great thing when you sweep a series, but we've also got to keep things in perspective and get re-energized and get ready for a big week."
Clemson returns to action Tuesday night, hosting Charleston Southern in a game that starts at 6:30 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Clemson is on the road next weekend, traveling to Florida St. in a three-get set that runs Saturday through Monday.