CLEMSON – It was a winning week and a second series win in the first three weeks of ACC play.
But Clemson wanted more, taking game one of Saturday’s doubleheader against Duke, but getting drilled in round two after an 8-run Blue Devils’ fourth inning, 13-1.
“You only feel as good as your last game,” Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. “You finish 4-1 on the week, but you feel like a dog at the end of the weekend.”
In game two, Duke (12-12, 3-6) outhit the Tigers 15-5, led by second baseman Andy Perez’s 3-for-4 effort, a homer short of the cycle. He had three RBIs just in the monster fourth frame.
No redemption was in store for Clemson right-handed starter Scott Firth, who dropped his fourth consecutive decision (2-4). Struggling with command, the senior co-captain gave up six earned runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings pitched.
In those last four starts, opponents have scored 20 runs on him – two earned in the first two and 12 earned in the latter outings.
Boulware: 'Feels like we got swept'
Boulware hitting .520 in last 7 games
His relief wasn’t much better Saturday.
Righty closer Matt Campbell retired his first batter, and proceeded to give up five runs on two hits and three walks, jumping his ERA from 3.52 to an even 9.00.
All-totaled, six runs scored with two out, and Firth out, in the fourth.
“It seemed like they knew every pitch that was coming,” Leggett said. “They swung the bats well and hit the ball flat and they got on a roll.
“We had one inning where we had some experienced guys out there who couldn’t get anybody out.”
With all support he needed and more, Duke right-hander Robert Huber (3-2) held Clemson to five hits and an earned run in six innings.
The 1-through-5 hitters in the Tigers lineup went 0-for-12 in the contest.
“It wasn’t just the pitching,” sophomore catcher Garrett Boulware said, who batted fourth in the order. “We didn’t back them up on offense either. We just got way too comfortable that last game. We definitely should have taken this last one.”
After putting it all together in the first two in the series, Leggett says it all went wrong in a domino-like effect in the finale.
“We didn’t pitch well,” he said. “We didn’t play good defense. We scrambled behind and next thing you know we’re having trouble on offense, so it was just a combination of everything.
“It was just one of those days.”
In game one, Clemson (15-8, 5-4 ACC) trickled six runs over the first five innings, and tacked on two more late to take it, 8-4.
Tigers switch-hitting second baseman Steve Wilkerson roped doubles down both lines in the third and fourth innings with an RBI. Boulware knocked in runs in his first two at-bats – his 11th and 12th RBIs in the last seven games (.520 average in that span).
Duke right-handed starter Drew Van Orden (1-3) gave up five of the early scores in three innings of work.
Clemson left fielder Tyler Slaton broke a 0-14 streak at the plate for Tiger leadoff batters with a two-run single in the eighth, but it would be his lone hit in seven at-bats on the day.
A pair of freshman led the winning pitching effort.
Left-handed reliever Zack Erwin (2-0) earned his second-straight victory in as many opportunities, throwing 4 1/3 scoreless. His season ERA dropped to 0.46, surrendering just one earned run in 15 1/3 innings of relief.
Clemson splits Duke doubleheader
Clemson righty starter Clate Schmidt left with the lead, but lasted only 4 1/3, giving up four runs on nine hits.
The game two woes broke up a pretty good stretch of Tiger baseball – winners of 8-of-11 (four against top-25 teams) and the three losses by three runs or less.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Boulware said. “We had a good week and went 4-1, and it feels like we got swept.”
Clemson had swept the last two series and won eight in a row against the Blue Devils.
They resume play in a two-game, home-and-home series with Georgia, starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Athens, Ga.