Blake Wright’s two-out base hit plated the game-winning run as Clemson knocked off North Carolina 5-4 on Friday to claim their seventh straight Atlantic Coast Conference series. The Tigers have not lost a conference weekend since being swept by Wake Forest at the end of March. It was also Clemson’s 11th consecutive victory, which is the longest active winning streak among Power 5 Conference teams.
However, it wasn’t as simple as just collecting a single by Wright to drive in Caden Grice and walk away with the win. The Tigers had to survive a bizarre top half of the 9th inning to be in a position to steal the victory.
After North Carolina grabbed an early 3-0 lead on a Patrick Alvarez homerun in the second inning, the Tigers seized momentum with a 3-spot of their own in the 3rd and a single run in the 4th to lead by one. The game stayed 4-3 until the strangest half-inning you’ll ever see.
In the 9th, the Tar Heels plated the tying run on three hits, none of which appeared to be seen by Tiger defenders. After Alberto Osuna and Colby Wilkerson each reached on balls that were lost in the lights, Jackson Van De Brake was credited with an RBI double to center field on another ball that was misplayed in the night sky. Clemson was able to avert any more illumination damage, setting the stage for Wright’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the frame.
Ryan Ammons was inserted into the lineup in the top of the ninth inning and turned out to be the winning pitcher. The left-hander gave up a run on those three pop-fly hits to pick up his second victory of the season. Matt Poston took the loss for UNC, recording two outs in the ninth but also giving up the Wright game winner.
The series is set to wrap up with “Senior Day” festivities on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1pm at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.