Story by Matt Smith
Jordan Greene got the start at second base for Clemson Thursday in Game 2 of the ACC Tournament. On his sleeve in marker, he had written, “carpe diem,” translated from Latin to “seize the day.” Another Latin phrase comes to mind after Mat Clark’s performance: “veni, vidi, vici,” as the Tigers ace “came” to Durham, NC, “saw” the ACC Pitcher of the Year opposing him, and “conquered” the top seed Louisville in a 7-1 triumph.
Clark baffled the Louisville lineup and carried a no-hit bid into the ninth inning. The southpaw was lifted moments after giving up his first hit of the game, a home run to right off the bat of Zach Britton. It was the only hit Louisville would muster off the combination of Clark and reliever Jacob Hennessy.
Kyle Wilkie and Justin Hawkins gave Clark (9-2) more than enough support offensively. Both Wilkie and Hawkins registered a homer and 3 RBI’s. Wilkie, as the team’s catcher, had the best seat in the house for Clark’s performance, “I didn’t have to do a lot today. I just put my glove there and didn’t have to move it. This guy’s just an absolute stud.”
Clemson (34-24) was locked in from the beginning of the game on the heels of what coach Monte Lee referred to as an “intense practice.” Lee had his charges going through live defensive situations, taking live cuts and running the bases at full speed roughly 24 hours before their thrashing of the Cardinals. But coach Lee refused to take credit, “What I saw out there was a team that was loose and very confident. Honestly, I said maybe five words today. I just sat there and watched the game.”
Clemson and Louisville entered the game knowing their ACC Tournament fates were sealed, but each team opted to throw their ace, anyway. The Tigers had faced Louisville’s Reid Detmers back on April 5 and defeated him 5-1. That performance gave the lineup confidence they could plate runs against one of the nation’s best lefthanders. Detmers gave up four extra-base hits and five earned runs before exiting after the fourth inning.
Clemson will now await its NCAA Tournament fate. Most projections had the Tigers firmly in the field of 64 before Thursday’s victory. D1baseball.com projected Clemson as a no. 3 seed as a part of the Starkville, MS, Regional and baseballamerica.com had the Tigers headed even further west as the no. 3 seed in Fayetteville, AR.
Coach Lee is confident his team has done enough to warrant inclusion, “We’re sitting at 36 in the RPI, so with this win today, that jumps us in the top 40 in the RPI. We’re 3-1 this year against the ACC champion. We’re 9-7 versus the top 25 this year, okay. All of those teams are in the top 16 in the country ranked right now. And we are 8-7 versus top-20 RPI teams. So I certainly think that we are a team that will be in the field of 64, and again, it was just a tremendous performance today by our team. I think this win certainly solidifies us in the field of 64, and it’s a brand new season for us moving forward.”
POSTGAME COMMENTS WITH MONTE LEE, MAT CLARK, KYLE WILKIE AND JUSTIN HAWKINS:
MAT CLARK ON LOSING NO-HIT BID IN NINTH: