Clemson Rides Shutdown Pitching in Sweep of Eagles

Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson ranged to his left and nailed the throw across his body, marking the end of the Tigers’ three game sweep of Boston College baseball. The Eagles displayed good pitching throughout the series, but Clemson’s overpowering offense, led by all-star outfielder Seth Beer, eventually hammered home enough runs to steal three wins.

Sunday’s matinee affair at Bill Beck Field in Kingston, R.I., began with a pitcher’s duel between Tigers (20-4, 1-8 Atlantic Coast) lefthander Pat Krall and Eagles (7-14, 1-8) righty Brian Rapp. Rapp held the Tigers hitless until the top of the third inning, while the Eagles tallied only two hits until the bottom of the fifth.

The Eagles were the first to threaten, with a single by Brian Dempsey and a bunt single from Jake Alu to put Dempsey in scoring position. BC was unable to convert, however, as Krall worked his way out of the jam, striking out Mitch Bigras and forcing freshman outfielder Dante Baldetti to fly out to centerfield.

After two more inconsequential innings, the Tigers notched the first run of the game after an Eagles pitching change. Sophomore Zach Stromberg struggled to find the zone, walking Logan Davidson and advancing him to second with a wild pitch. Stromberg was quickly replaced by sophomore right-hander Donovan Casey. Robert Jolly singled on a 1-0 count, advancing Davidson to third. Casey was able to get Patrick Cromwell to fly out to center, but it was deep enough to allow Davidson to tag and score. The Eagles avoided further damage that inning by recording two more fly-outs to right field.

The Eagles were unable to score in the bottom of the eighth after loading the bases, yet the Tigers were not done. Dick Howser Trophy recipient Seth Beer, the first ever freshman to receive the award, launched a solo home run in the top of the ninth to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Michael Strem walked on four pitches to lead off the bottom of the ninth, but both Bigras and Dempsey went down looking. Tigers closer Ryley Gilliam forced Alu into a groundout, sealing the win for Clemson.

Saturday’s game was an equally battle fought on the mound, seeing brilliant pitching from both sides. Sophomore southpaw Dan Metzdorf was particularly notable in the performance, notching six scoreless innings and recording three strikeouts.

The Tigers scored the only run of the game in the seventh inning, taking advantage of wild pitching on behalf of freshman pitcher John Witkowski. He walked the first two batters of the inning, who subsequently advanced on a sacrifice bunt to the right side. Clemson called on Jolly to pinch hit, who rocked a grounder to third base. The throw to the plate was not in time, and sophomore catcher Gian Martinelli could not place the tag.

The game saw a combined five hits from the Tigers and the Eagles, yet one set of walks and a fielding miscue was enough to seal the win for Clemson in the second game of the series.

Friday night’s game, on the other hand, was far less competitive. Sophomore righty Jacob Stevens struggled against the Tigers’ high-powered offense, allowing three runs in the first. Led by doubles by Williams and Beer, Clemson began building their lead. Utilizing hitter’s counts to mash the ball, the Tigers notched two more in the second.

Stromberg replaced the struggling Stevens, locking down the Tigers until they managed to eek one run in the sixth. Striking out a career-high four batters, Stromberg stemmed the tide to allow the Eagles a chance to fight back.

It appeared as if that might just happen, as a cacophony of defensive miscues allowed freshman Johnny Adams to cross the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but the Tigers pulled it together to salvage the inning, leaving the score at 6-1.

Davidson and Beer scored once more each on some seventh inning small-ball, building the Tigers lead to seven. Casey was able to bring in Strem on an infield single in the bottom of the eighth for the Eagles, but the other batters were unable to emulate him. The Eagles eventually fell 8-2, marking the first loss of three in the series.

After playing three top tier teams recently, BC is beginning to find its stride. The Eagles displayed good pitching in the latter two games of this series, something they will need to continue if they want to beat top tier teams. The offense still needs to improve, but solid hitters like Strem and Casey can help lead that charge going forward.

Featured Image by Michael Sullivan / Heights Editor

March 26, 2017