You’d have to go some to find a team playing any better baseball right now than the Clemson Tigers. From claiming six straight ACC series to having not lost a mid-week game since April 18th, Erik Bakich’s club is rolling over opponents like an orange and purple tidal wave. On Thursday, North Carolina was the latest team to be swept out to sea.
Billy Amick, Blake Wright (2), and Caden Grice all homered to power a 14-7 win over North Carolina and claim the 200th baseball meeting between the Tigers and Tar Heels. It’s Clemson’s 10th straight win, and it puts the Tigers in prime position to close out the regular season by winning every conference weekend in April and May.
The Tigers wasted no time in putting North Carolina on its heels, as Clemson scored two runs in the first and four in the second. The two in the opening frame came on Grice’s 13th home run of the season. The four runs in the second inning were all scored with two outs, giving Ethan Darden plenty of wiggle room in his 11th start of the season. Darden tossed 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts. However, he did not work long enough to qualify for the victory. That honor went to reliever Nick Clayton, who earned his seventh win of the season, delivering two and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball.
North Carolina made things interesting for a brief moment, as the Tar Heels scored two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to cut Clemson’s advantage to 6-3. However, the home team responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth on Amick’s 11th long ball of the year. Then broke the game wide open with five more runs in the sixth, highlighted by Wright’s 3-run blast to center. For good measure, Wright added a two-run shot in the 8th to increase Clemson’s lead to 14-3. The fourteen runs came home on nineteen base hits, as the Tigers were 6-of-13 with runners in scoring position and a remarkable 11-of-17 on the night with two outs.
UNC scored four runs in the top of the 9th and had the bases loaded with two outs before Rocco Reid got a strikeout to end the game.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Friday at 6pm at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.