Clemson Baseball

Clemson starts 2019 on right foot with Opening Day victory

February 15, 2019

CLEMSON – Clemson’s 2019 baseball campaign started off on the right foot on Friday afternoon.

With the help of some familiar faces, and one new one, the Tigers were able to take a 6-2 victory on Opening Day over South Alabama.

A Logan Davidson three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning gave the fourteenth-ranked Tigers a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish. Before that home run, Clemson was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

“We were down 2-0, but never panicked,” head coach Monte Lee said. “We knew it was a matter of time.”

Lee told his team, “good clubs find a way to get at least one (in that situation). We got three.”

Davidson, who only had 15 home runs in 2018, is a preseason All-American and is on the Gold Spikes Award watch list. He finished his day 1-for-3.

For most of the evening, the only offense Clemson was able to seize came from the bat of newcomer Michael Green. The sophomore transfer from Florence-Darlington Technical College gave the Tigers the first hit of their season in the first inning.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Green hit a solo home run over the right-field wall to double Clemson’s lead to 4-2. He finished his Clemson debut 2-for-3 in what was described as a “dream come true.”

“(Michael Green) is a tough kid and is a blue-collar player. He’s the kind of guy that we want to bring to Clemson,” head coach Monte Lee said. “He is not fazed by any situation… that's why he is hitting in the two-hole on opening day. I’m really proud of him.”

Clemson was actually out-hit by the Jaguars, 7-6. Kyle Wilkie’s 29-game hit streak came to an end, but he extended an on-base streak to 40 games. He was 0-for-2 with two walks.

But the key stat of the day was that the Tigers won the battle of getting free bases. Clemson was able to get 10 runners on base from walks or hit-by-pitches. Clemson’s pitching staff only walked the Jaguars once

Thanks to the relief pitching of two more familiar faces, Mat Clark and Carson Spiers, Clemson was able to escape any unnecessary trouble on Opening Day.

Brooks Crawford started the game by retiring the first 10 batters he faced. Then, two bad pitches later, South Alabama was on the board with back-to-back home runs from Ethan Wilson and Wells Davis to give the Jaguars a 2-0 lead.

Crawford lasted 4.2 innings, giving up four hits and two runs in his Friday debut. Clemson has a 15-2 record in his last 17 starts.

Mat Clarke pitched three quality innings and struck out four of the 12 batters he faced. In the top of the eighth inning, he gave up a leadoff double to Santi Montiel to give South Alabama some momentum. A walk and a single made the bases loaded, and Clarke came out of the game.

In came Spiers, whose role is now the team’s closer in place of Ryley Gilliam. He calmly stepped on the mound and plucked a streaming line drive out of the air and flipped the ball to first to end the threat. It was a play that took him back to his days of playing third base.

“I’m just a natural athlete on the mound,” Spiers said with a laugh. “There’s no pressure out there.”

That moment took the wind out of the Jaguars’ sails. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Clemson took advantage with the bottom of its order full of sophomores. Bryce Teodosio singled, then Bo Majkowski singled to left field to advance the speedy Teodosio to third base.

With Teodosio and Majkowski on second and third, sophomore Sam Hall ripped a two-out, two-strike single to left field to drive in both runs and give the Tigers their eventual winning 6-2 score.

Clemson hit 6-for-28 and was 3-for-10 with two outs. With runners in scoring position, Clemson was 2-for-10 while the Jaguars were 0-for-5. That proved to be the difference in the game.

The Tigers host South Alabama in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. True freshmen Davis Sharpe and Justin Wrobleski will get the start in what will be the first time since 1997 that two true freshmen will get a start in Clemson’s first three games of a season.

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