DOUG KINGSMORE STADIUM: For opposing pitching staffs, facing Clemson must feel like swimming against a rip tide. The Tigers lineup keeps coming in waves, and usually, they eventually wash over and swallow the competition. That’s precisely what Clemson did in Game 1 of their Regional, Friday, breaking open a tight game and riding a five-run eighth inning outburst to a 12-5 victory over Lipscomb.
Caden Grice got the scoring started with a two-run home run in the first inning. But Lipscomb didn’t back down, eventually taking a 4-2 lead into the bottom half of the fifth following long balls from Caleb Ketchup and Alex Vergara. Vergara’s first dinger was a tape-measure shot that cleared the stands past left field. The Bisons ace, lefthander Logan Van Treeck, had largely kept Tigers hitters off balance to that point. But Lipscomb left themselves vulnerable thanks to an error. Clemson seized on the opportunity, posting three runs in the frame, two of which were unearned.
Vergara would add another homer in the sixth, his 23rd of the season, closing the gap to 6-5. But the Atlantic Sun champions would get no closer. The Tigers extended the lead with an expertly executed safety squeeze to take a two-run lead into the eighth.
With Van Treeck having been relieved following the sixth, the Tigers pounced on the Lipscomb bullpen, piling up five runs in the eighth on Cooper Ingle’s RBI single and Billy Amick’s opposite-field grand slam. Amick’s moon shot sent the packed house into a frenzy and clinched the Tigers’ 17th straight victory. All five runs scored with two outs and Clemson (44-17) finished 7 of 15 (.467) with two outs in the game.
Austin Gordon started, struck out six and surrendered four runs in 4.1 innings. Gordon wasn’t as sharp as he had been in the ACC tournament start, but it was good enough to keep the game close before turning it over to the bullpen. Nick Clayton, Reed Garris, Ryan Ammons and BJ Bailey pitched in succession. Clayton gave up just the homer to Vergara and picked up his eighth win.
Clemson now awaits the winner of the Tennessee-Charlotte game. The Tigers will face the second-seeded Volunteers or third-seeded 49ers at 6 p.m., Saturday.