Clemson’s late May slide continued in a big way Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Columbia Regional. The #2 seeded Tigers were blasted by Liberty 8-3 and knocked into Saturday afternoon’s loser’s bracket game. That’s six straight losses for the Tigers dating back to the second game of their series at Florida State May 17th.
Liberty pitcher Josh Richardson dominated the Tigers retiring 17 in a row before a lead off double by Steven Duggar in the bottom of the 9th. That was the Tigers’ first hit since the third, and that was by Duggar as well.
Richardson went on to finish with a complete game six hitter to improve to 4-4. He struck out just one and did not walk a batter. He threw only 104 pitches, 70 for strikes,
Greenwood native Trey Wimmer provided most of the Flames’ offense with a career high six RBIs including a three run homer to left field in the sixth inning that made it a 7-2 game.
(Jack Leggett, Thomas Brittle & Steve Duggar)
(Jim Toman, Josh Richardson, Trey Wimmer, Alex Close)
Liberty jumped on Clemson freshman lefthander Zack Erwin for a run in the top of the first. Ashton Perritt led off with a ground rules double to left center and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Wimmer.
The Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the first with an unearned run. Thomas Brittle led off with a ground ball that was booted by the second baseman for an error. Steve Wilkerson and Steven Duggar followed with singles to score the run. But that’s all the Tigers could get as they left a pair on base.
The Flames went back on top 3-1 in the third thanks to a two run double into the gap in left center by Wimmer. That second run was unearned thanks to a throwing error on a bunt by third baseman Shane Kennedy. The Tigers later lifted Erwin in the inning for Jonathan Meyer.
Clemson responded in the bottom of the third. Brittle led off with a single and later scored from second on a one out single to center by Duggar to make it a 3-2 game.
Liberty got that run right back in with a lead off home run to left field by Alex Close to make it 4-2 after four. That’s where the game stood until Wimmer delivered his three run blast in the sixth.
Erwin took the loss for Clemson. He was one of six pitchers used by Clemson and they allowed 13 hits. Tiger pitching did not record a 1-2-3 inning in the game. Duggar led Clemson’s offense with three hits and two RBIs.
Clemson will face the loser of tonight’s USC-Saint Louis game at 1:00 PM Saturday. Daniel Gossett will start for Clemson. Liberty will face the winner Saturday night at 8:00 PM. The Flames have not named a starter.
Clemson played the game without starting first baseman Jon McGibbon who is out for the series with a pulled hamstring. Freshman Kevin Bradley started at first. He was one of six freshmen to start for the Tigers.