Clemson baseball entered the weekend 14-4 in games decided by two runs or less – counterpart Florida State, 14-5. The No. 17 Tigers blinked first in the situation down in Tallahassee, Fla., Friday.
Despite out-hitting the No. 9 Seminoles 7-5, the Tiger bats couldn’t manufacture runs as FSU evened up the series with a 2-1 win.
With an early lead behind him, Florida State starter Luke Weaver (6-2) scattered seven hits and struck out eight batters in 7 1/3 innings – and his relief didn’t give up a hit to finish out the big victory.
The division is no longer in the Tigers’ hands, as a nine-game winning streak was snapped, but they can still help their cause Saturday.
In the three-way battle, Clemson (39-16, 18-11) needs a win over FSU in a 3 p.m. start and a loss by No. 5 N.C. State at Duke to clinch the Atlantic Division title and a two-seed in the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles (34-11, 19-10) clinch simply with a win, while the Wolfpack need a Tigers’ victory and to complete the sweep of the Blue Devils.
Weaver allowed one hit and two baserunners cruising through the first three innings, but the Tigers battled sophomore righty for leadoff runners in the next four frames – breaking through for a run on a third baseman Shane Kennedy RBI grounder in the sixth.
Clemson freshman lefty Matthew Crownover (7-2) had trouble locating his pitches early, and FSU jumped all over him.
The first four Seminoles reached base in the first inning, with designated hitter Marcus Davis bringing across a pair of runners on a single for an early 2-0 advantage.
The Ringgold, Ga. native settled down though, retiring the next nine Florida State batters and staying out of trouble until the fifth inning, when he was pulled due to injury. Per Clemson, the move was precautionary because of tightness in his forearm.
Enter freshman right-hander Clate Schmidt, who had surrendered 18 runs in his last four outings, but was on Friday night – holding the Seminoles hitless in 3 2/3 innings with a strikeout and no walks. Schmidt hadn’t pitched since May 6, when he took a line-drive off his pitching arm.
Crownover’s abbreviated start didn’t diminish his numbers over an outstanding freshman campaign, in 4 1/3 innings, giving up only his sixth and seventh earned runs of eight weekend starts this season.
Second baseman Steve Wilkerson was the only Tiger with multiple hits, going 3-for-4 and scoring the lone run.
Clemson goes for its sixth series win in the last seven Saturday.