For six innings and one out, Clemson baseball was cruising to a season-best sixth win in a row with a six-run lead against Western Carolina.
Six Catamount scores on five hits and an error later – the No. 22 Tigers knew they were in for a fight.
Clemson first baseman Jon McGibbon, however, wasn’t feeling the upset Tuesday night. He broke a four-inning Tigers’ scoring drought on an RBI single in the ninth frame, and the Tigers tacked on two more from there to leave Cullowhee, N.C. with a 12-9 victory.
The junior co-captain McGibbon knocked in four RBIs on the game, going 3-of-4 at the plate and scoring all three times on base.
Sophomore reliever Patrick Andrews stopped the bleeding in the seventh and threw a scoreless eighth to earn the win (1-1), and senior Scott Firth took his first save of the season.
Clemson (22-11) put up nine runs over the first four innings, chasing Western Carolina’s starter after two, but lefty senior Jon Nadale held Clemson to two hits in 3 2/3 innings up to the Catamounts’ big seventh.
The Western Carolina rally was keyed by a pair of doubles early and back-to-back two-run singles late to tie it up, 9-9.
A four-run Clemson third inning put the Tigers on top, 9-2. McGibbon delivered a two-run single and a later sacrifice fly earned him his third RBI.
Second baseman Steve Wilkerson returned to the field (lacerated finger) for the first in the better part of six games, and he threw out a runner at the plate in the second inning – but later booted a run-allowing grounder in the seventh.
Clemson returns to action at home today against Presbyterian (18-15) for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. Starters have yet to be announced.