Clemson blasts past Duke for ACC series win

Clemson center fielder Thomas Brittle rounds second while running the bases against Winthrop at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Tuesday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson center fielder Thomas Brittle rounds second while running the bases against Winthrop at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Tuesday.

This time, Clemson didn’t wait to get its bats going.

One night after an 11th-inning breakthrough, the Tigers scored early and held on late for a 11-5 win over Duke at Jack Coombs Field in Durham, N.C.

Clemson won the teams’ ACC weekend series and will go for the sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Tigers improved to 17-14, 7-7 in ACC play; Duke fell to 13-19, 5-9 in league play.

Junior center fielder Thomas Brittle finished 4-for-6 with five RBI and three runs. He had two singles, a double and a triple, finishing a home run shy of the cycle.

For the second consecutive day, the Tigers scored first. With one out in the top of the first, Brittle singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on first baseman Richie Shaffer’s single up the middle.

Duke tied the game in the second; catcher Mike Rosenfeld reached on a bunt single, and scored on center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms’ double to left-center field.

Brittle got the rally going again in the third. He led off the inning with a bunt single, and Shaffer’s double left runners at second and third with no out for DH Phil Pohl. Pohl lofted a sacrifice fly, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

First baseman Jon McGibbon followed with an RBI single to left, scoring Shaffer for a 3-1 edge.

Duke got a run back in the bottom half of the inning on Rosenfeld’s RBI single, and it stayed that way until the sixth.

Left fielder Garret Boulware led off the inning with a double, and with one out, second baseman Steve Wilkerson singled, extending his hitting streak to 19 games. That set the table for – guess who? Brittle.

He slammed a triple to the right field corner, scoring both runners and giving Clemson breathing room with a 5-2 lead.

Clemson starter Dominic Leone scattered nine hits over 6.1 innings, striking out a season-high nine and walking two while allowing four runs, all earned.

It was his second consecutive solid start, following last week’s seven-inning, one-run, six-strikeout, three-walk win over Miami.

Before that start, Leone had lasted as long as six innings in exactly one start, a season-opening win over UAB.

The Tigers added a run in the seventh on Wilkerson’s RBI groundout, but the Blue Devils made it interesting in the bottom half.

DH Jeff Kremer led off the inning with a single, and with one out, left fielder Andrew Istler singled up the middle; both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. That ended Leone’s day; reliever Patrick Andrews entered.

Rosenfeld followed with an RBI single through the right side of the infield, scoring Kremer. Andrews plunked Piwnica-Worms, loading the bases.

Third baseman Jeff Betts flew out to left, scoring Istler, and second baseman Mike Lumpa singled to center, scoring Rosenfeld and cutting the lead to 6-5.

With the tying run at second, Andrews got pinch-hitter Grant McCabe to ground out to short, ending the inning.

Clemson needed some insurance in the ninth inning – and got it.

Pinch-hitter Tyler Slaton singled down the right field line, scoring Baum. Following a Jason Stolz fielder’s choice and a Wilkerson walk, Brittle stepped to the plate again against reliever David Putman.

He came through – again – doubling down the right-field line, clearing the bases and extending the lead to 10-5; an error sent him to third. He scored on Shaffer’s sacrifice fly for the game’s final run.

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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