College baseball: Louisville tops Clemson in top-10 showdown to clinch ACC Atlantic title
CLEMSON, S.C. - Colby Fitch and Drew Ellis delivered eighth inning home runs to lead the No. 2 Louisville baseball team to a 6-4 series-clinching win at No. 7 Clemson on Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium and seal the Cardinals' third straight ACC Atlantic Division championship.
Louisville (45-6, 22-4 ACC) won its sixth consecutive regular season conference title and the eighth in the last nine seasons overall. The Cardinals extended their winning streak to 14 games overall while also clinching their 12th series victory in as many chances this season. Along with the three straight Atlantic Division titles, Louisville has also won 26 of its 29 ACC series since joining the conference.
"It's a huge accomplishment winning three of these because I have so much respect for the talented players, coaches and programs in the ACC," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. "Our kids did an unbelievable job of showing their toughness, not getting caught up with the outside noise and just putting their heads down and staying focused. We're a really talented club but more so than that, I'm really excited for the toughness and competitiveness we show day in and day out."
The Cardinals overcame a 4-0 deficit on Saturday by scoring all six runs on four home runs, including two from Fitch. The junior catcher was 4-for-5 overall adding a double to go with his second career two-homer game. The Rocheport, Missouri native, who also homered in Friday's victory over the Tigers, gave Louisville its first run of the game with a solo shot in the sixth inning before delivering the game-tying blast in the eighth.
After Fitch evened the score, Ellis put Louisville ahead for good later in the eighth inning with his two-run bomb into the left field seats. The 14th home run of the season capped a 3-for-4 day at the plate for Ellis, who is 6-of-8 with two doubles in the first two wins at Clemson (37-14, 16-10 ACC). The Jeffersonville, Indiana native raised his batting average to .400 on the season to go with 47 RBI and 18 doubles.
Devin Mann had the fourth home run of the game for the Cardinals as the sophomore second baseman was 2-for-4 at the plate with a two-run homer. Brendan McKay added a pair of hits and scored once for Louisville, which earned its 16th come-from-behind win of the season.
On the mound, junior righthander Kade McClure overcame some early struggles to win his third straight start and move to 7-1 on the season. The Mentor, Ohio native had five strikeouts and allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings to improve to 20-2 in his collegiate career. Sophomore lefthander Adam Wolftwirled two scoreless innings of relief allowing only one hit with two strikeouts to close the game and earn his first career save.
The Tigers gained their first lead of the series in the first inning on Saturday when Seth Beer drove Logan Davidson home with a two-out single to right field for a 1-0 advantage. Clemson extended its margin to 3-0 in the third inning on a two-out, two-run homer to left field by Chase Pinder, his fifth of the season. Andrew Cox added a run to the advantage for the Tigers with a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Louisville started its comeback against Clemson starter Alex Eubanks in the sixth inning scoring three runs on the home runs from Fitch and Mann. Fitch led off the inning by sending a 1-2 pitch into the right field seats for his 10th of the season. Following a two-out single to left field by Ellis, Mann drilled a 0-1 pitch down the left field line and into the seats for his eighth homer.
The Cardinals turned the game in their favor with two more home runs in the eighth inning. Like he did in the sixth inning, Fitch led off the eighth by a connecting for a solo home run sending his 11th round-tripper of the season over the wall in right center. After a single from McKay ended a brief outing from reliever Jeremy Beasley, Ellis greeted Ryley Gilliam by launching the game-winning two-run homer to left.
The Cardinals and Tigers will conclude their weekend series on Sunday at noon ET on ESPN2.