Clemson finally got its turn here at the ACC Championship in Durham and the Tigers made sure to get things off on the right foot. They took down defending national champion Virginia 5-4 Thursday, a win that gets them off to a great start in the pool play format and helps solidify their case to host a Regional next week.
Clemson coach Monte Lee has a team playing its best baseball at the right time. “What a great win for us in Game 1 against the defending national champion,” Lee said. “Virginia is a very well coached team, very talented team and we are just fortunate to find a way to win the game. 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.
Clemson took an early 1-0 lead in the second on an Eli White double that scored Chris Okey from first base. White finished with three hits. Virginia tied it in the bottom half of the inning on a Daniel Pinero home run. It was knotted at one until the Tigers put three runs on the board in the 5th, highlighted by Matt Triller’s two-run homer.
Virginia didn’t go away quietly. The Cavileers played two runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull within one. In the 8th inning Lee turned to Pat Krall for a two out save. He gave up a solo homer to the first batter he faced, Matt Thaiss, and the game was tied going to the 9th.
Clemson broke the tie in the 9th with a sacrifice fly from Chase Pinder that pushed across the go ahead run. Krall came back out in the 9th and held the Hoos off the board to improve to 9-1/
Clemson is now 39-18. The Tigers will face Louisville tomorrow morning. The Cardinals swept the Tigers in Louisville in the regular season. Lee said they are the best team he’s seen all season.