After nearly six hours of baseball Saturday, Clemson baseball is two-thirds of the way to its weekend goal.
The Tigers (4-1) swept the twinbill over Wright State (3-2), 5-3 in the first contest and 6-0 in the finale, at a chilly Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Clemson second baseman Steve Wilkerson led the way in both, going 5-for-8 from the plate with three RBIs.
“He’s feeling really good at the plate right now,” Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. “Really good focus on what he’s doing. Very relaxed, very confident and hopefully we can keep him in that zone.”
Wilkerson’s opposite number, Sam Picchiotti paced the Raiders’ attack with five hits and two RBIs in nine at-bats.
Total, Clemson pounded out 18 hits, keeping the momentum going from the end of last weekend’s William & Mary series. In the last 22 innings, they have touched up opposing arms for 32 hits and 23 runs in a three-game winning streak.
Leggett, though, is just as proud of the four double plays turned and lone error defensively.
“Up and down the order, I thought we had some pretty good at-bats,” Leggett said. “We played some really tough defense, which is what we always want to do.”
Closing out the Saturday sweep, freshman right-hander Clate Schmidt earned his first win in his first career start, tossing four scoreless innings with two strikeouts and five hits allowed.
Schmidt, rated the No. 4 ACC newcomer by Baseball America preseason, credited the debut success to pitching coach Dan Pepicelli’s gameplan.
“They were looking for my fastball,” Schmidt said, “so I spent my whole week with coach Pep working on my changeup and working on my slider… it turned out into my benefit and I ended up getting my first win.”
He stranded seven baserunners just in the first three innings, which would be a trend on the game for the Raiders, with 15 overall.
Righty relievers Patrick Andrews, Jackson Campana and Clay Bates, along with lefty Zack Erwin, completed the shutout with only four hits allowed over the final five innings.
“We pitched really well today,” Leggett said. “Our pitching staff was good – we pitched well with men on base.”
Catcher and T.L. Hanna product Garrett Boulware gave the Tigers some breathing room in the sixth inning with a two-RBI single for a 5-0 edge.
First baseman Jon McGibbon drove in two runs on a pair of singles, a relief for the senior co-captain after a 1-for-15 start at the plate going in.
“It’s definitely a pick-me-up to finally get a couple to drop in,” McGibbon said. “Everybody was telling me to stick with it. Baseball’s tough enough, you can’t get down on yourself.”
In game one, Wilkerson smashed a towering home run to center field to break a tie in the third inning, 2-1, and the Tigers added three more to hold off Wright State.
Center fielder Thomas Brittle scored twice, each after walks, and Jay Baum reached base twice in three tries with a run driven in.
Clemson ace right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-0) struck out six and allowed a single run in five innings of work. Righty reliever Matt Campbell notched his second save of the season, coming in for one out with runners on the corners.
Going for the series sweep, senior Tigers right-hander Scott Firth (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will take the mound for Sunday’s 1 p.m. start, after allowing only two hits in seven innings for the win to clinch last weekend’s series.
Box Game Two: Clemson 6 Wright State 0