#Clemson Regional: Tigers fall flat as season ends in 3-2 loss to Charlotte (AUDIO)

Photos by Clemson Athletics

DOUG KINGSMORE STADIUM: Emotionally and physically exhausted, Clemson took the field against Charlotte needing to win three games in two days to advance past the Regionals. After seeing their 17-game winning streak come to an end in a 14-inning loss at the hands of Tennessee, the Tigers couldn’t summon the strength to stave off elimination and fell to Charlotte 3-2, Sunday.

The NCAA Tournament is often a test not just of physical talent, but also of fortitude, mental toughness and endurance. Clemson had nearly emptied the tank in the dramatic loss to the Volunteers that stretched nearly five hours but needed to rebound quickly for a noon start against the 49ers. They were going to have to do it without one of their best players, as well. Caden Grice shifted to center field in the absence of Cam Cannarella, who was serving a one-game suspension following his ejection in the Tennessee game.

Bakich made the decision to start Ty Olenchuk on the mound and in the designated hitter spot despite Olenchuk not having taken a plate appearance until a pinch-hitting appearance in Saturday’s loss. Bakich shared his thought process on starting Olenchuk and holding Ethan Darden for a potential rematch with the Volunteers, “He (Olenchuk) has been taking batting practice with us for a couple of months … We felt like we needed to hit our way through this first game and get guys that could leave the yard and just put up crooked numbers. Ty (Olenchuk), along with Caden (Grice) and Billy (Amick), hits the ball as long and as far as anyone, so we were hoping he’d run into one.”

Clemson (44-19) wasn’t able to hit their way through Charlotte and instead struggled to reach base against the 49ers. After plating a couple of early runs on Grice’s first-inning solo homer and a 49ers error in the second, the Tigers lineup failed to gain traction the rest of the way. Dating back to the fifth inning, Saturday, Clemson scored just three runs over the final 18 innings of Regional play. There was an especially futile run in the middle innings, Sunday, as the Tigers struck out seven consecutive times against reliever Donye Evans.

The pitchers held up their end of the deal, however, holding Charlotte without a hit for 6.1 innings before surrendering a game-tying solo home run to Will Butcher. The 49ers added an unearned run later in the inning and the Tigers offense never responded.

Clemson’s season comes to a close but Doug Kingsmore Stadium continues on as a host site for the remainder of the Regional. Charlotte and Tennessee clash at 6 p.m. with the Volunteers needing just one win to advance to a Super Regional.

Box Score

Erik Bakich, Riley Bertram
and Jackson Lindley postgame

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