Virginia rallies to nip Clemson 8-7
Hicks’ two-out single in ninth inning lifts sixth-ranked Cavs
CLEMSON, S.C. -- John Hicks singled in the go-ahead run with two out in the ninth inning to lift No. 6 Virginia to an 8-7 win against No. 4 Clemson on Saturday. After squandering a three-run lead, Virginia (15-1, 2-0 ACC) then rallied from a three-run deficit with three runs in the eighth inning and one in the ninth to capture the victory while also clinching the series win.
The teams were tied at seven entering the ninth. After falling behind 0-2, pinch hitter Danny Hultzen rebounded to lead off the inning with a walk. Keith Werman followed with a hit-and-run single. After Chris Taylor struck out while attempting to bunt, John Barr reached on a fielder's choice, with Hultzen getting forced out at third on the play. Hicks then went the other way, slapping a single through a gaping hole on the right side of the infield to easily score Werman and give UVa an 8-7 advantage.
UVa closer Branden Kline struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to record his sixth save in as many tries this season. UVa pitchers struck out 12 Saturday and now have fanned 30 Clemson batters in the first two games of the series.
Hicks had two hits as part of Virginia's 11-hit day. Ryan Levine had a pair of RBI singles, while John Barr also chipped in two hits and scored twice. Brad Miller led Clemson (7-5, 0-2) with three hits; the Tigers finished with 10 hits.
Both teams were sloppy on the defensive end -- Virginia committed a pair of errors while Clemson was credited with four errors. These errors were key in big innings late in the game for both teams.
Whit Mayberry earned the win out of the bullpen for Virginia and improved to 3-0 this season after pitching the seventh and eighth innings. Clemson reliever Alex Frederick (0-2) was saddled with the loss after allowing the ninth-inning run.
Neither starting pitcher received a decision. Virginia's Tyler Wilson pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned), six hits and no walks while striking out seven. Clemson starter Will Lamb pitched 4.0 innings, giving up four earned runs, six hits and one walk while striking out three.
Virginia touched up Lamb for a first-inning run. With one out Barr doubled down the left-field line. He scored on a two-out single by Levine.
Clemson responded in its half of the first. With one out Miller singled up the middle. He advanced two bases when Wilson fired an errant pickoff throw to first base and then scored on a single down the right-field line by Jeff Schaus.
The Cavaliers took a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning. Hicks led off with a single and one out later Steven Proscia singled. Kenny Swab followed with a single through the left side to plate Hicks. Reed Gragnani then lofted a fly ball over the head of right fielder Chris Epps for a double, scoring both runners.
Clemson began its comeback with one out in the sixth as Miller singled and moved up on a Wilson balk. With two out, Richie Shaffer launched a 3-2 Wilson offering into the left-field seats for a home run to cut the lead to 4-3.
The Tigers took advantage of sloppy UVa defense to cash in four runs in the seventh and take a 7-4 lead. Lamb singled to start the inning against UVa reliever Kyle Crockett and Spencer Kieboom walked. Addison Johnson bunted the runners over, but Hicks' throw went into the runner and second baseman Keith Werman was unable to make the catch as the ball bounded in foul territory, allowing Lamb to score to tie the game. Jason Stolz bunted the runners over against Mayberry, and Epps followed with a two-run single to center. One out later Jeff Schaus doubled to left-center to plate Epps and give the Tigers a 7-4 lead.
Clemson returned the favor in the eighth inning, committing three errors which led to all three UVa runs as the Cavaliers tied the game. With one out Taylor reached on an infield single and Barr bunted his way on base. Hicks then ripped a ball right at third baseman John Hinson, who booted the ball to load the bases. Levine then cranked a single to left-center to score Taylor.
Frederick came on to pitch, and Proscia hit a tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop, but Miller bobbled it to allow Proscia to reach and then threw the ball away when trying to get the forceout at second. The double error allowed a pair of runs to score to tie the game, while Hicks moved to third and Proscia to second. Frederick kept the tie in place by fanning Swab on three pitches and getting Gragnani to ground back to the mound.