Disastrous Fifth Haunts Clemson Baseball, Loses Super Regional Game One to Florida

Despite a strong start from the Tigers, Clemson baseball gave up seven runs in the fifth inning to the Florida Gators to drop game one 10-7 In front of a packed to the seams and rowdy Doug Kingsmore crowd.

An exchange of a full smile and chuckle at home plate between head coaches Erik Bakich and Kevin O’Sullivan set the mood for a fun day at the ball park. Sophomore Tristan Smith would get the ball to kick off Clemson’s first Super Regional in more than a decade.

Smith would start the game with a popout to deep right field from leadoff hitter Cade Kurland. Next for Florida would be do-everything junior Jac Caglianone. He’d also pop out down the right field line for the second out of the inning. Ashton Wilson would draw a 3-2 walk to break up the 1-2-3 inning for Smith, but Colby Shelton would strike out looking to get the Tigers off to a good start and into the dugout.

Freshman Liam Peterson would be the starting pitcher for “Sully” and the Florida Gators for game one. Alden Mathes would give him a warm welcome with a base hit over second base for the first Tiger hit of the game. He’d eventually go 3 for 5 on the day. After a few throw-overs to first by Peterson, Jacob Hinderleider would strike out swinging for the first out of the home half. Blake Wright would draw a walk next, to give Cam Cannarella a chance to drive in the first run of the Supers. After a visit to Peterson from Sully at the mound, Cannarella would hit a well-struck ball to left, but it would be caught with help from the wind blowing in from left. With two outs, Jimmy Obertop would draw a walk and put the heat on for the Tigers early. Tristan Bissetta would let a ball go past him to the backstop on a wild pitch by Peterson, and the first run would come for Clemson in the bottom of the first on the advance by Mathes. Bissetta would walk on a full count to put the bases loaded again for Jack Crighton. Peterson’s tough start would continue, walking Crighton on four pitches and giving the Tigers an early 2-0 lead. Jacob Jarrell would strike out looking to end the inning.

Smith would get Luke Heyman to ground out to Hinderleider at short for the first out of the second, and strike out Tyler Shelnut for out two. The Gators’ first hit of the game would come from Dale Thomas, who’d hit it just past Hinderleider into left field for a single. Brody Donay would strike out swinging for Smith’s third strike out of the day and end the visitor’s half.

Jarren Purify would lead off the bottom of the second with a bloop fly ball down the right field line. Despite an amazing dive from Wilson, he’d drop the ball out of his glove as he hit the ground – which would allow Purify to make it all the way over to third. On another passed ball from Peterson, Purify would steal home to give the Tigers another run and a 3-0 lead. Mathes would follow that with a base hit into left, still with no outs in the inning. Sully would be back to now take the ball from Peterson (1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K) and end his afternoon. Junior Fisher Jameson would come in to pitch in early relief for Florida to face Hinderleider. Mathes would immediately steal second to give the Tigers a runner in scoring position. Hinderleider would ground out to second on a fielder’s choice, moving Mathes over to third with only one out for Wright. Jameson would get Wright looking on a high fast ball, however, for out two. Cannarella would have a chance to drive in Mathes, but he’d fly out to left again to end the Clemson threat.

Michael Robertson would ground out to Crighton at first to turn the order over for the Gators in the third. Kurland would draw the 3-2 walk to give Caglianone a base runner with one out. He’d line a ball to the right field wall to give Florida runners on the corners for Wilson. This would trigger a visit to the mound for Smith to calm down. Wilson would then hit a line drive to Mathes who would make the catch, but the throw home would be low and the tag from third would score Florida’s first run of the game. Shelton would fly out to Wright at third to end the top half, limiting the Gators to one run in the inning.

In the bottom half of the third, Obertop would give the home crowd more to celebrate by hitting a deep solo home run into the grandstands in left field off of Jameson to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. Jameson would bounce back with a backwards K to Bissetta and a ground out to short by Crighton for two quick outs. Jarrell would strike out again to end the inning.

Heyman would fly out to center for the first out, but Tyler Shelnut would do some damage in the fourth by sending a ball just over Cannarella in center field for the home run and make it 4-2 Clemson. Smith would bounce back to strike out Thomas looking for the second out, and while Donay would then hit a pitch to deep center, it wouldn’t be too deep for Cam – he’d jump at the wall for the catch and close out the inning.

Purify would ground out to short for the first out of the bottom of the inning. Jameson would then get Mathes looking for his fourth strikeout of the day. Hinderleider would line a ball into shallow right, and Wright would follow that up with a ground ball into shallow left to give two base runners with two outs for Cannarella. After another mound visit by Sully to Jameson, Cam would fly out to right to strand the runners. Cannarella (0 for 4) would end the day 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.

The fifth would change everything for this first super regional game. Smith would start his fifth inning with a leadoff walk to Robertson. At the top of the Florida order, Kurland would hit a single into right center, putting runners on the corners and no outs for Caglianone. A mound visit would look to slow the Gator momentum, but to no avail. Caglianone would hit a three-run homer to left, and give Florida their first lead of the game at 5-4. Bakich would then make the long walk from the dugout to take the ball from Smith and end his otherwise solid outing (4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K). The junior side-armed pitcher Lucas Mahlstedt would try to shut down the Gators next. He’d start his day with a walk to both Wilson and Shelton, and still no outs in the inning. Tiger pitching would tally seven walks on the day.

A double to left center field would score another run for the Gators, making it four runs in the inning and no outs – with two more runners in scoring position. Bakich wouldn’t wait long to pull Mahlstedt (0 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 2 BB) before giving the ball to junior Reed Garris. He’d get Shelnut to popout to Crighton at first and hold the runners for out number one. A throw home by Purify on a ground ball would go awry, however, and the runner would score from third on the error. Next, Donay would bunt back to the pitcher, but that would allow another runner from third to cross home, making it now six runs for Florida in the inning. With two outs and a runner on second, Robertson would hit a single into left to score yet another Gator run. After a steal of second by Robertson, Kurland would pop out for the third out, and end an absolutely horrendous top half for the Tigers. Midway through five, Florida would be leading Clemson 9-4.

Bissetta wouldn’t wait long to make up some of the deficit with a homer out to the Cajun Cafe and get the home crowd back into it. Heading to the sixth, the score would be 9-5.

One inning would be all the work Garris would get for game one (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER), and taking the mound next would be Jacob McGovern. He’d get Caglianone to pop out on one pitch back to Obertop for a good start for the freshman. Wilson would single to left off of McGovern, but Shelton would fly out to Bissetta in left for the second out of the inning. Obertop would then catch Wilson stealing second to end the inning and get the crowd on their feet.

Purify would take a ball high on a full count to give Clemson a leadoff runner and the top of the order due up in the bottom of the sixth. This would prompt one final visit from the dugout for Jameson (4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) who would give the ball to sophomore Cade Fisher. Mathes would chase Fisher after one batter (0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER) with a double to left field, prompting Sully to send junior Brandon Neely to the mound next. Hinderlieder would fly out to deep right – deep enough to score Purify on a tag up from third. Wright would ground out to short, but that would be enough to score Mathes from third this time, cutting the Florida lead down to two. With two outs and no runners on base, Cannarella would strike out to end the sixth. Florida would take a 9-7 lead into the seventh.

After the relatively quiet seventh and eighth, McGovern would return to the mound to start the end of the game for the Tigers. Heyman would take him deep to left for a solo home run and add some insurance for Florida late. McGovern would bounce back by striking out Shelnut for the first out of the ninth, then getting Shelton to ground out to Purify for the second. Donay would walk on a full count, giving a base runner and two outs for Robertson. McGovern (4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) would strike him out on a checked swing to send the Tigers to the plate and a chance for their 26th comeback win, down 10-7.

Neely would get the ball again in the ninth to complete his spectacular day (4.0 IP, 1 H, 6 K). He’d get Hinderleider to ground out to first for out number one, and then get Wright to strike out for out number two. Cannarella would draw a walk to extend the game, and follow that up by stealing second and third uncontested on the first two pitches to Obertop. Despite an offensive timeout by Bakich, Obertop would strike out swinging to end the game.

Clemson Baseball || Bakich, Mathes - 6/8/24

Bakich started the postgame press conference discussing that fateful fifth inning, but also mentioned the last couple of Clemson teams to lose game one of the supers would go on to make the College World Series.

Clemson’s do-or-die game two is set to start around 2:30pm on Sunday afternoon in Doug Kingsmore.

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