Scott Firth allowed three hits and no earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched and #16 Clemson pounded out 17 hits in its 9-3 victory over Duke at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers, who swept the series, improved to 10-7 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. It was Clemson’s first three-game sweep of the season and its first sweep of Duke since 2007. The Blue Devils dropped to 15-7 overall and 2-4 in ACC play.
Firth (1-0), a sophomore righthander from Buffalo Grove, IL, earned the win in his first start of the season. In a career-long 6.2 innings pitched, he yielded just three hits, no earned runs, and one walk with five strikeouts. After giving up a first-inning double, Firth retired 18 of the next 19 Blue Devils, while the only batter who reached base during that stretch did so on an error. Alex Frederick and Matt Campbell combined to pitch the final 2.1 innings to close out the game. The three Tiger hurlers combined to hold Duke to 0-for-9 with two outs and allowed only one leadoff batter to reach base.
Marcus Stroman (1-1), the first of three Duke pitchers, suffered the loss. He gave up 11 hits, six runs, and two walks with seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings pitched. The three Blue Devil pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts.
The Tigers grabbed the game’s first lead in the first inning. Jeff Schaus lined a one-out double to right-center and scored on Phil Pohl’s single to left field.
In the third inning, Schaus led off with a walk on four pitches and went to second on Pohl’s single to left-center on an 0-2 pitch. Two batters later, Jon McGibbon walked on six pitches to load the bases with one out, then Jason Stolz hit a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder, but the ball took a bad hop and Stolz reached on the single as Schaus scored. Chris Epps followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Pohl.
Clemson added to its lead in the fourth. Will Lamb laced a one-out single to right field, stole second, and scored on Schaus’ single through the right side. After Schaus stole second, he scored on Richie Shaffer’s single to center on an 0-2 pitch.
Epps lined a solo home run to right field in the fifth inning, his fourth long ball of the year, to up Clemson’s lead to 6-0.
In the top of the seventh, the Blue Devils dented the scoreboard with two runs thanks in large part to two Tiger errors. Jeff Kremer hit a one-out single up the middle. Anthony D’Alessandro followed with a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder, but second-baseman Steve Wilkerson booted the ball. Will Piwnica-Worms loaded the bases with a single up the middle, then Dennis O’Grady hit another potential inning-ending, double-play grounder. But Wilkerson committed another error that allowed all runners to be safe, including Kremer, who scored. Angelo LaBruna then lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate D’Alessandro. After, pinch-hitter Mark Tatera loaded the bases with a walk on eight pitches, Frederick entered the game on the mound for the Tigers and got pinch-hitter Ben Grisz to fly out to center to end the inning.
Clemson responded with a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Wilkerson reached with two outs on an error by pitcher Joe Pedevillano when he missed the first-base bag on a throw from O’Grady at first. Lamb followed with a triple to center to score Wilkerson, then Schaus hit another triple to left-center to score Lamb, giving the Tigers an 8-2 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, Christopher Marconcini led off with a walk. Two batters later, Kremer walked, then D’Alessandro loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch. Piwnica-Worms followed with a sacrifice fly to left-center to score Marconcini.
The Tigers answered back again in the bottom of the eighth inning. McGibbon led off with a double to right-center, moved to third on Stolz’s foulout, and scored on Epps’ single that bounced over a drawn-in Jordan Betts at third base.
Six different Tigers tallied at least two hits, led by Schaus. The senior leftfielder went 3-for-5 with a double, triple, two RBIs, three runs, a walk, and steal. Shaffer went 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Spencer Kieboom went 3-for-5 with a double. Epps added two hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. Lamb and Pohl also contributed with two hits apiece. Clemson totaled 17 hits in the game, including three doubles, two triples, and one home run.
Marconcini, Kremer, and Piwnica-Worms had one apiece for Duke, who had three hits in the game.
Clemson will host Elon in a two-game, midweek series starting Tuesday at 6:30 PM.