The Presbyterian College baseball team battled to take the lead in the middle of its Wednesday night road test at No. 17 Clemson, but the Tigers rallied in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 Clemson win at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
PC moves to 18-16 while Clemson improves to 23-11. The Blue Hose kick off a Big South Conference weekend series at UNC Asheville on Friday at 3 p.m.
Tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth, a leadoff walk brought Ryan Morris (Jamestown, R.I.) into the game. A balk sent runner Shane Kennedy to second that set up an odd play leading to Clemson's winning run. On a fly ball, Paul made a spectacular catch to hold the runner and the rightfielder threw to the cutoff man Billy Motroni (Goose Creek, S.C.). The second baseman tried to stop from throwing the relay but the ball skittered to the mound, allowing the Tiger to take third with one out.
Two intentional walks loaded the bases for Jay Baum. Facing a 1-1 count, Baum fouled off a squeeze bunt and eventually popped up to short for out number two. Morris continued to pitch well by putting shortstop Tyler Kreiger in an 0-2 hole before a single to right gave Clemson the win, 5-4.
The Blue Hose provided a solid showing overall, scoring in three straight innings to take a 4-3 lead after seven. Brandon Paul (Augusta, Ga.) and Jay Lizanich (Greer, S.C.) each tallied two hits while four different PC players produced an RBI.
Chad Sanders (St. Simons Island, Ga.) took the loss by walking the ninth inning's leadoff runner to move to 3-2. Brett Byrum (Rowlett, Texas) put together a solid start, allowing three runs on four innings. Michael Ricchi (McKinney, Texas) pitched effectively in relief, working out of several jams and allowing zero runs over three innings.
Clemson scored one run each in the first two innings to take an early 2-0 lead. The Tigers took advantage of a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly to lead by a pair.
The Blue Hose broke through for a run in the top of the fifth. Motroni smacked a double and eventually came home via Aaron Preston (Goose Creek, S.C.) RBI groundout to put the Blue Hose on the board, 2-1.
Clemson answered in the bottom of the frame when Garrett Boulware hit a solo home run to restore the Tigers' two-run lead, 3-1. Richi entered the game one batter later and escaped a bases-loaded jam by inducing a Motroni-Brad Zebedis (Rock Hill, S.C.) double play.
Three Clemson errors and a pair of hits tied the game in the top of the sixth. Paul led off by singling and taking second on a failed pickoff attempt. A Cam McRae (Darlington, S.C.) sacrifice bunt moved Paul to third and the rightfielder scored on a Derek Long (Alpharetta, Ga.) squeeze bunt that pitcher Brody Koerner misplayed.
Ryan Hagan (Sugar Hill, Ga.) then stepped up to the plate and hit a grounder to second base. The flip to second forced Long out but the catcher slid into the shortstop in a successful attempt to break up the play. The throw to first sailed wide and allowed Hagan to take second, setting up a Lizanich RBI triple to left centerfield that tied the game, 3-3.
Ricchi retired the Tigers in order in the sixth to set up another scoring inning from the Blue Hose. With one out, Preston knocked an opposite-field triple to right and came home on a Zebedis sacrifice fly. The play gave the visitors their first lead of the game heading into the seventh-inning stretch, 4-3.
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