Story by Matt Smith
Clemson and Boston College traded punches for over four hours in Game 1 of the ACC Tournament Tuesday in Durham, NC. After 11 innings, it was the Tigers that couldn’t answer the bell and took a 7-5 loss and find themselves unable to advance to the semifinals.
Clemson’s bullpen, already stretched thin by the last few weeks of conference play, finally gave way with the Eagles plating the decisive runs against Carson Spiers in the 11th inning.
In the pool play format of the ACC Tournament, if there is a three-way tie, the higher seeded team advances. If such is the case in Pool A, Louisville will advance as the overall No. 1 seed. This means Clemson won’t advance past Thursday, but they can still help their NCAA Tournament resume with a victory over Louisville.
The Tigers used eight pitchers in the hopes of getting past the Eagles with ace Mat Clark fresh for Thursday’s showdown with the Cardinals. But Boston College wouldn’t cooperate and took a 5-2 lead behind four home runs, including two from second baseman Cody Morissette, doubling his output from the regular season. The Eagles had only 28 home runs as a team coming into the tournament, but found Clemson pitching to their liking early and taking control with the long balls.
Travis Marr started for the Tigers, surrendering six hits and three runs in 3 1/3 innings. Marr was followed by a parade of Clemson relievers as Monte Lee tried to hold things together long enough for the offense to get them back in the game. That’s exactly what the Tigers did in the bottom of the eighth when Michael Green’s two-run single knotted the game at five.
Closer Carson Spiers entered the fray in the ninth and was effective until his pitch count got into the 50’s and the Eagles took advantage. What proved to be the winning run came on a nasty hop over the shoulder of first baseman Chad Fairey. It was ruled an error, but in earnest, no one outside Keith Hernandez could have been expected to get a glove on it.
Clemson’s offense was held in check most of the game and Boston College starter Mason Pelio was particularly effective, giving up just three hits and one earned run over six innings of work. Grayson Byrd had entered the game red-hot, homering in ten of the last 13 games, but finished 0-6 with three strikeouts. As a team, Clemson didn’t come up with the hits they needed, going for 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
CLEMSON BATTING STATS:
CLEMSON PITCHING STATS: