Tenth-ranked Clemson added another game to its winning streak in dramatic fashion, Saturday, fending off Virginia Tech’s ninth-inning rally and staging one of its own for a 9-8 victory in Blacksburg, Va.
Clemson jumped out to an early 4-1 lead but the Hokies fought back to pull even, pecking away at starter Austin Gordon for two runs in the fourth and another in the sixth. The Tigers broke the tie and looked to be firmly in control after a five-run ninth put them ahead 9-4. Cam Cannarella scored the go-ahead run on Will Taylor’s infield single moments before Billy Amick’s double plated two more runs. Blake Wright’s bases-loaded walk and Ben Blackwell’s two-run single accounted for the other scores.
Ryan Ammons was called upon to protect the lead but ran into trouble immediately. Ammons fell behind the first hitter 3-0 before surrendering a single to center. The next two batters, Chris Cannizzaro and Garrett Michel, both homered to close the gap to 9-7. Rob Hughes relieved Ammons and fanned the first hitter he faced. But the next two Hokies singled, forcing Clemson head coach Erik Bakich to delve deeper into his bullpen. Tristan Smith, a freshman from Boiling Springs, entered a sticky situation. The southpaw got two strikes on pinch-hitter Eddie Eisert before surrendering an RBI double to left-center that trimmed the lead to 9-8. With just one out, two runners in scoring position and Clemson’s advantage down to a single run, the Hokies looked to be in prime position to topple the Tigers and halt their streak.
An intentional walk to Christian Martin loaded the bases, setting the stage for the game’s biggest play. Clay Grady grounded to Tigers second baseman Riley Bertram and Martin was called for interfering with Bertram, resulting in a game-clinching double play that held up under review.
Clemson (34-17, 16-10) just missed scoring double-digit runs for the third straight game, but did extend their winning streak to seven and secured their sixth straight ACC series win.
Clemson and Virginia Tech (29-18, 11-14) will wrap up the series at 3 p.m., Sunday.