April 29, 2018
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – No. 10 Clemson (34-11, 17-7 ACC) withstood a furious, late-game rally by Virginia (24-20, 9-15 ACC) in 9-8 victory in the series finale at Disharoon Park. The Tigers earned the series sweep with three one-run victories.
After sending nine batters to the plate and scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Cavaliers had the tying run tagged out at the plate to end the frame. An errant pitch by reliever Ryley Gilliam went to the backstop but a favorable carom back to the catcher, Kyle Wilkie, allowed for enough time for the tag to be applied.
Gilliam recorded the game’s final five outs and pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his third save of the weekend.
The contest was a tale of two big innings as Clemson scored five runs in the top of the third inning to erase an initial 2-0 Virginia lead while the Cavaliers nearly matched it with a four-spot in the eighth. It marked the second time this season a Virginia opponent had scored five runs in a single inning.
“This was a difficult series, three one-run losses were certainly tough to swallow,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “I’m proud of our guys for hanging in there especially after falling behind early on. It was a difficult weekend, we’ve had weekends like this before. You see this all over college baseball where you play other good people and this is what happens.”
Clemson used five pitchers on the day including four in the eighth-inning Virginia rally. The Cavaliers drew five walks to jumpstart the comeback. Freshmen Tanner Morris (Crozet, Va.) and Devin Ortiz (Nutley, N.J.) produced run-scoring hits in the frame. Andy Weber (Aurora, Ohio) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to pull the Cavaliers within a run.
Virginia used six pitchers, receiving clean sheets out of the bullpen from Riley Wilson (Midlothian, Va.), Blake Rohm (Superior, Colo.) and Andrew Abbott (Halifax, Va.). Rohm retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, striking out a pair. Abbott escaped a bases loaded jam in the top of the ninth to keep the Cavaliers within a run.
Senior Justin Novak (Tokyo, Japan) drove in two of the first three Cavalier runs on sacrifice flies in the second and fifth innings, his 11th and 12th RBIs of the season. Catcher Cameron Comer (Powell, Ohio) scored a career-high three runs in his 21st straight start behind the dish.
The Cavaliers will play a home midweek game against VCU on Tuesday (May 1) at 6 p.m. before breaking for final exams. Virginia continues Atlantic Coast Conference play on May 11, the start of a three-game series against Georgia Tech at Disharoon Park.
– Virginia has played in six-straight one-run games and drop to 10-9 in games decided by a run.
– With a hit by pitch in the eighth, Weber extended his reached base streak to 30 games.
– The series sweep by a Virginia opponent at home was the first since April 4-6, 2015 (Louisville).
– Clemson matched a season-high with its eighth-straight win. They have won five of the last six meetings against Virginia.