For eight innings, Friday, it looked as if Clemson would suffer through another defeat, again hamstrung by their inability to strike the big blow with runners on base. But it all changed in an instant as Billy Amick delivered a walk off grand slam to lift the Tigers to a 9-8 victory over Georgia State and send the Doug Kingsmore Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
It’s every child’s dream to play the role of the hero, to score the winning touchdown, beat the buzzer from the 3-point line or drive home the winning run. But a walk off grand slam with two outs in the ninth for your first career homer? Even the most imaginative among us may not have played out the fantastical scenario Amick, who grew up in Batesburg, lived out with his teammates, Friday.
The Tigers trailed 8-4 entering the ninth, having already stranded 14 runners on the basepaths. Nathan Hall’s single to center kickstarted the rally. Three batters later, Cam Cannarella singled to left center to load the bases. Cooper Ingle drove home Hall to cut the Panthers lead to 8-5 and set the stage for Amick. Amick, in just his fifth at-bat of the season, wasted little time, launching a 1-0 pitch over the centerfield fence just to the right of the scoreboard, clearing the bases and turning fantasy into reality. It was Amick’s first homer as a Tiger and he won’t soon forget it. The Tigers (8-6) poured out of the dugout to mob Amick as he crossed the plate and flung his purple helmet in celebration.
While Amick’s big fly will garner the headlines, the contributions of Cannarella and Ingle shouldn’t be overlooked. Cannarella scored four runs and racked up five hits to raise his average to .467. Ingle also picked up five hits, with a homer among them, and drove in four runs.
Clemson starter Austin Gordon didn’t shine as he gave up six runs (three HRs) in 3.2 innings and saw his ERA rise to 6.27. The bullpen held steady, however, surrendering just a pair of unearned runs the rest of the way to keep the door cracked for the comeback. Nick Hoffman (1-1) allowed just one hit over the last 1.2 innings to pick up the win.
The same two teams go back at it in a doubleheader, Saturday. Due to forecasted inclement weather on Sunday, the decision has been made to conclude the series, Saturday. Game 1 is scheduled for 1 p.m. and Game 2 will begin approximately one hour after the first game ends.