The #16 Clemson Tigers outhit #6 North Carolina 12-6, but the Tar Heels made several diving stops to rob Tigers of groundball hits and Clemson had four infield lineouts as North Carolina topped the Tigers 5-4 in front of 2,912 fans at Boshamer Stadium on Sunday afternoon. North Carolina, who swept the series 3-0, improved to 26-4 overall and 10-2 in the ACC. The Tigers dropped to 14-12 overall and 4-8 in ACC play.
Clemson took a 2-0 lead with two two-out runs in the top of the first inning. But the Tar Heels responded with three runs thanks in part to a costly Tiger error in the bottom of the first inning. After Clemson tied the score with a run in the eighth inning, Colin Moran grounded a two-out single up the middle to score Levi Michael for the winning run in the ninth inning.
Cody Penny (1-0), the last of six North Carolina pitchers, earned the win by striking out the only batter he faced in the ninth inning.
Will Lamb (1-1) suffered the loss, as he gave up one run and one hit in 2.1 innings pitched.
For the third game in a row, Clemson took the game’s first lead against the Tar Heels. In the top of the first inning, Jeff Schaus lined a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line for a single and stole second, then Phil Pohl struck out for out #2. Richie Shaffer reached on an infield single as Schaus moved to third, then Chris Epps grounded a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single to score Schaus. Brad Miller followed with a single through the left side to plate Shaffer.
In the bottom of the first inning, Ben Bunting led off with a single to left-center and Michael slapped a 1-2 pitch through the right side for a single. After Tommy Coyle’s walk loaded the bases with no outs, Jacob Stallings grounded out to third to score Bunting and Moran reloaded the bases on a five-pitch walk. Chaz Frank hit a grounder to second-baseman John Hinson, whose throw to first was errant, allowing Michael and Coyle to score.
Michael led off the fifth inning with a single on a ball that he hit off the end of his bat. The ball rolled down the third-base line and went over the third-base bag. Two batters later, Michael stole second on a pitch-out as Hinson dropped the ball on what would have been a close play. Stallings walked, then Moran laced a single through the right side to score Michael and double the Tar Heel lead.
Shaffer led off the sixth inning with a double down the left-field line and moved to third on Epps’ groundout to second. Miller belted a double to right field to score Shaffer.
For the first time in the series, the Tigers put their first two batters on base to lead off an inning in the eighth. Shaffer led off with a single to right field and Epps walked. But for the fourth time in the game, the Tigers hit an infield lineout when Miller laced the first pitch right at first-baseman Tom Zengel, who made the catch and stepped on first base for the crucial double play. Nevertheless, Spencer Kieboom came through with a two-out single up the middle to plate Shaffer and tie the score.
Michael slapped his second hit of the game off the end of his bat, this time a soft liner to right field with one out in the ninth inning. Coyle followed with a walk on five pitches, then Stallings flied out to center to advance Michael to third. Moran came through with a single up the middle past a diving Hinson to plate Michael for the winning run.
Michael paced North Carolina with three hits and two runs, while Coyle’s 18-game hitting streak came to an end.
Shaffer and Miller both went 3-for-4, with both their outs coming on lineouts in the infield. Shaffer added three runs, while Miller had two RBIs. Pohl’s 11-game hitting streak came to an end as well.
Clemson will begin a six-game homestand when it hosts Coastal Carolina on Tuesday at 6:30 PM.