For a second straight year the Clemson baseball team’s season has ended in Columbia. Only this time, it wasn’t a loss to the Gamecocks that sent the Tigers packing. Clemson lost to Liberty 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Carolina Stadium, eliminating the Tigers from the postseason.
That means the matchup baseball fans around the state have been clamoring about for the past week isn’t going to happen. The Tigers and Gamecocks postseason paths didn’t cross. By the time USC takes the field to face Liberty tonight Clemson will be back home putting away the bats and balls.
“Ray Tanner owes me a bonus for beating Clemson twice and making it easier on his guys,” Liberty coach Jim Toman quipped after the game.
It isn’t hard to figure out why the Tigers aren’t still playing. All weekend long the Tigers struggled to find the timely hit. They were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. The Tigers put the leadoff hitter on base six times, but was never able to put together that big inning against the Flames.
Their best chance came in the 4th. The Tigers scored a run and were on the cusp of putting more on the board. With runners on second and third and one out Joe Costigan hit a hard line drive to second. The ball was just above the ground and it wasn’t clear if it was caught in the air or off the bounce. Garrett Boulware thought it was down and broke for home and Shane Kennedy broke for third. Liberty’s second baseman threw home and the Flames catcher chased Boulware back to third and tagged him and Kennedy who was also standing on the bag. After a brief discussion the umpires ruled the ball was caught in the air and Kennedy was out too so the inning was over.
The Flames scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Clemson had its chances to get back in it, but in the end it was another frustrating end to the postseason.
“This is a very tough time of year when you lose your last game,” Leggett said. “…Once I get past today I am going to choose to look at the positives from this season and I hope the positive Clemson fans out there choose to do the same thing.”
Clemson finishes its season at 40-22.