CLEMSON – College baseball is a funny game sometimes – right now, Clemson’s not laughing.
Two weeks ago, the No. 14 Tigers went down to Athens and came away with a 16-4 win. It was the first of six-straight wins up to game two of the N.C. State series over the weekend.
Georgia, however, had a similar surge – taking their next two SEC series (Texas A&M and Missouri).
Georgia 6, Clemson 2
Issues in all phases of the game carried over from that N.C. State series for Clemson, as the Bulldogs jumped on them early and held on for a 6-2 win Tuesday night.
Oddly enough, the home team hasn’t won in the two-game interstate rivalry since 2011.
Georgia junior third baseman Hunter Cole posted three RBIs in his first two at-bats – smashing a solo homer in the first – and after Clemson starter Brody Koerner had already been chased, knocked a two-run single up the middle. Junior Bulldogs shortstop Nelson Ward then brought him home by dropping a two-run double in left for a 5-0 Georgia lead.
Koerner (0-1), a sophomore, walked four of the nine Georgia (19-13-1) batters he faced to take on three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.
His struggles came after a half-inning emblematic of the Tigers’ three-game losing streak.
Clemson’s first three batters reached, but sophomore right fielder Steven Duggar watched strike three go by for one out and freshman catcher Chris Okey grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the threat.
Duggar had some measure of redemption in the third inning, breaking a hitless run in his last two games with a RBI single. Over the last three contests, it was only Clemson’s second RBI and third hit with a runner on when trailing by a swing of the bat (four runs or less).
The Tigers hit just .143 with runners on against the Bulldogs.
Georgia lefty starter Patrick Boling (3-2) deserves his share of the credit for that though, allowing two runs (one earned) over a career-long 7 2/3 innings pitched.
“It’s baseball,” Duggar said. “Sometimes a couple guys go into a funk. Right now it just seems like we’re just – it’s tough to say. That guy tonight was pretty good for them. He came out and had a slider working really well. Throwing his fastball for a strike and keeping us off balance. He was ahead in counts all night.
“We’re just going to regroup and get some work in tomorrow and Thursday and Friday night we’ll be ready to go again.”
The Tigers’ fielding woes only worsened, but without damage on the scoreboard. Clemson led the ACC in errors going into the game and committed five on Tuesday night. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Krieger committed his 15th of the year – three more than he had all last season. Second baseman Steve Wilkerson had three of the five on the night, bringing the total for Clemson middle infielders to 28.
“None of them really hurt us (tonight),” Leggett said. “I don’t like to play that sloppily. We didn’t play horribly. After the second inning, we played pretty well actually. We just couldn’t solve that left-handed pitcher.”
After a lineup shakeup, Clemson (20-12) didn’t match its error total in hits until two were out in the eighth inning.
In the 6-through-9 of the Tiger order – where two of Clemson’s top four in on-base percentage hit – they went 0-for-15 with four strikeouts.
Georgia’s Cole tacked on his fourth RBI of the game with a single in the eighth, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored total.
Clemson heads to No. 2 Virginia this weekend, while Georgia hosts Tennessee for three in Athens.