Tigers win in a "Triller" over Cavaliers


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Barnes pitched well enough to win in his first ACC tourney outing
Barnes pitched well enough to win in his first ACC tourney outing

DURHAM, NC – Clemson started the 2016 ACC Baseball Tournament with a bang.

Chase Pinder hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth and Mike Triller hit a clutch two-run homer as sixth-seeded Clemson defeated third-seeded Virginia 5-4 Thursday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The 12th-ranked Tigers improved to 39-18 overall with seventh-ranked Virginia fell to 36-19. Clemson takes on top-seeded Louisville Friday at 11 a.m.

"What a great win for us in Game 1 against the defending National Champion, Virginia is a very well coached team, very talented team and we are just fortunate to find a way to win the game," head coach Monte Lee said. "Had the lead early and they chipped away, which is what good teams do, and we found to a way to score a run late in the ninth inning to give us a lead.

"Got to give Charlie Barnes a lot of credit. He's been very, very consistent for us down the stretch. Gave us another great start. We had a big inning in the fifth inning. Eli White offensively had maybe the best day he's had all year. Hit a two-run homer. Mike Triller hasn't got a lot of at-bats for us this year, stepped up in a big situation with two strikes on him, hit a two-run homer"

Clemson struck first as Chris Okey led off the second inning with a walk and scored on a double down the left field line by Weston Wilson, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.

It didn’t take long for Virginia to answer, though, as Daniel Pinero belted his second home run of the season off the bull in left field. The long ball tied the game at 1-1 after two innings.

The two offenses went quiet until Clemson broke it open in the fifth. Chris Williams worked a one-out walk, and Triller launched his second-career home run over the wall in left, a 329-foot shot that gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Chase Pinder earned a two-out walk, advanced to second a balk and scored on a double to centerfield by Eli White, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead in the fifth.

Matt Thaiss led off the Virginia half of the sixth with a single up the middle and advanced to third on a double by Pavin Smith to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Back-to-back fly outs plated both runners to cut Clemson’s lead to 4-3 and end Charlie Barnes’ day.

Clemson’s sophomore lefty pitched 5 2/3 innings (104 total pitches) and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out five.

Virginia elected to change pitcher after the sixth innings, as well, ending Connor Jones’ day. Jones threw 104 total pitches in six innings and gave up four runs on four hits and four walks. Jones struck out four and was charged with a wild pitch a balk.

Alex Eubanks got the final out of the sixth inning and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings.

The Tigers had a chance to add to the lead in the eight. White led off the inning with a double off the wall and took third on a fly ball by Beer. The Cavaliers intentionally walked Okey to put runners at the corners, but Rohlman and Wilson flied out to end the threat.

Pat Krall replaced Eubanks to begin the bottom of the eighth, and Virginia made the Tigers pay as Matt Thaiss hit a 368-foot rocket homer to right to tie the score at 4-4. It was just the second home run allowed by Krall this season.

Williams led off the top of the ninth with a single to short, and Triller walked on four pitches. Andrew Cox laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position with one out.

Pinder launched a deep fly to center that scored Williams and Clemson moved back in front 5-4.

"In the ninth, Chris Williams had a leadoff single, got the leadoff man on base, and Triller had another quality at-bat with a walk," Lee said. "And Chase Pinder with the infield in delivered the fifth run for us with the sac fly. So we did a good job of situational hitting right there. Got a bunt down, and found a way to get that run in. But we were fortunate. We made some errors. Didn't capitalize the inning before. Had first and third with one out."

Krall pitched around an error in the ninth as Clemson escaped with the win. Krall improves to 9-1 on the season.

Lee said he thinks senior Clate Schmidt will get the start against the Cardinals, while Krall will stay in the bullpen.

"I'd like to talk to Coach See and Bradley (LeCroy) and Buck about it and Kopp, once we get on the bus," Lee said. "But I think obviously it sets up, either for Clate or for Ryley Gilliam tomorrow, but I would think we would be leaning towards Clate Schmidt, but would definitely want to talk about that. As soon as we get on the bus and make that decision, we'll let everybody know as soon as possible.

"Pat threw, I believe, 20 pitches today, so we'll try to keep him in the pen, use him at the back end of the game to help us win. We approached it as one game at a time, which we've done with Pat. If we use him out of the pen to win a game, then obviously we'll keep him in the pen. If we didn't use him, then we have the opportunity to start him but now we'll keep him in the bullpen."

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