Clemson, S.C. – No. 16 Coastal Carolina couldn’t overcome a six-run first inning by the No. 18 Clemson Tigers in an 8-5 loss between two top 25 nationally ranked teams on Wednesday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C.
The Chants are now 1-2-1 versus nationally-ranked top 25 teams this season with a 7-6 extra-inning loss to then-No. 21 NC State, an 11-3 win over then-No. 25 Illinois, a 4-4, 11-inning draw with No. 1 Oregon State and then tonight’s result.
Outfielder Jake Wright (2-for-3, 2 BB, run) reached base four times on the night, while Kieton Rivers (2-for-4, HR, RBI, run) had two base hits overall. Five other Chants tallied one hit each highlighted by Cory Wood (1-for-3, 2B, SF, BB, RBI, run) who had an RBI.
The loss went to starter Scott Kobos (1-2) who was roughed up for five runs on five hits in 0.2 innings.
The CCU bullpen of Nick Parker (2.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 R, 3 K), Trevor Damron (2.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, BB, 3 K), Dylan Gentry (2.0 IP, 1 hit, 2 K) and Davie Inman (1.0 IP, 1 K) pitched well to keep the Chants in the contest.
The top of the lineup did the damage for the Tigers, as the 1-3 hitters went a combined 7-for-12 with three RBIs and three runs scored highlighted by Logan Davidson (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs, run) and his two-run home run.
Clemson’s Owen Griffith (1-0) earned the win, as the Tigers bullpen combined to hold Coastal to just one run on five hits, five walks and 14 strikeouts over the final 7.0 innings of the game.
Coastal got off to a good start offensively, as Wood led off the game with a double over the head of the left-fielder. After a bunt single from Cameron Pearcey put runners on the corners with no outs, Zach Biermann hit a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Wood and put the visitors in front 1-0 midway through the first inning.
However, the Tigers got off to an even better start as the home team got a two-run home run from Davidson, a sac fly from Davis Sharpe and a three-run shot from Adam Hackenberg to give Clemson a 6-1 lead after just one inning of play.
The Chants refused to quit, however, as Rivers led off the second with a solo home run to right center field, his second home run of the season.
Following a Scott McKeon infield single and a walk to Wright, Keaton Weisz laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up 90 feet and into scoring position. A balk allowed McKeon to score from third, before Wood hit a deep fly ball to center field to plate Wright and trim the Clemson lead to two at 6-4.
Parker settled the game down on the mound for the Chants, as he pitched around a one-out single in the second and threw a clean 1-2-3 inning in the third to keep the game close heading into the fourth inning.
Coastal stranded two runners on base in the fourth, while the Tigers added to their lead with an RBI single up the middle in the bottom half of the inning to push its lead out to three at 7-4.
In the next half inning, the Chants got the run back on back-to-back singles by Kyle Skeels and Jared Johnson. On Johnson’s base hit through the right side, Skeels motored around second and headed to third to force a throw from the Clemson right fielder which went wide of the base and allowed the CCU catcher to trot home and trim the Tigers lead back to two at 7-5 halfway through the contest.
The Tigers got the run back in the bottom half of the fifth on a Jordan Greene sacrifice fly to retake a three-run lead at 8-5 with four innings to play.
The Chants stranded three runners in the sixth and two in the seventh, as Clemson carried the three-run lead into the eighth.
CCU put a runner on in both the eighth and the ninth innings, yet couldn’t get the key hit to get a run across in the 8-5 loss.
The Chants stranded 12 runners on base for the game and struck out 14 times.
Coastal (13-4-1) will open up Sun Belt Conference play this weekend at ULM (7-9) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 15-
17 at Warhawk Field in Monroe, Louisiana.