CLEMSON — Jack Leggett hoped a midweek breakthrough for the Tiger lineup was going to carry over to the weekend.
Friday night, however, he saw more of the same struggles — both of this season and of late against Miami.
A one-run game to the ninth, the No. 15 Hurricanes capitalized on Clemson’s missed opportunities to take game one of the series.
Three-straight pitches in the eighth inning defined the Tigers’ night.
Miami 5, Clemson 2
Two out — Miami leading 3-2, Tigers sophomore right fielder Steven Duggar broke through with the first hit for the 2-through-5 in the order, a single up the middle. Freshman catcher Chris Okey then lined a double to left field to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Hurricanes closer Bryan Garcia’s next delivery, however, rendered a weak grounder to second base, ending the threat. Unable to beat the throw, Clemson senior second baseman Steve Wilkerson spiked his helmet to the ground in frustration.
Adding insurance runs to insult in the ninth, Miami right fielder Dale Carey reached on a fielding error and catcher Zack Collins powered a two-run homer to center field for the 5-2 final.
The Hurricanes have won 17 of their last 18 games and four in a row over Clemson. Stretching back to last season, the Tigers have just two earned runs in five games against the Hurricanes (five total).
Clemson hit 1-of-11 with runners on and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, but Leggett says they weren’t that far off.
“I thought we had a good approach though,” he said. “We hit some balls hard. We didn’t have much to show for it again. We had some guys on base. We had some opportunities to open it up and (Miami) made some big pitches and we didn’t get the hits.”
In the third, Miami loaded up the bases with a pair of singles and a walk, where Clemson left-hander Matthew Crownover proceeded to bean Hurricanes center fielder Ricky Eusebio for a run.
The No. 22 Tigers (25-17, 12-9 ACC) loaded the bases in the fifth frame with two out, scoring in their own unconventional way. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Krieger sent one off the end of his bat for a bad hop off Miami first baseman Brad Fieger — careening into foul territory for a pair of runs and a Tigers’ lead.
Before that, junior Miami left-hander Chris Diaz (7-0) had retired 11-of-12 Clemson batters — and he didn’t have any trouble from there.
The Hurricanes (30-13, 17-5) have won the last 12 games in which Diaz has started — the junior throwing a solid 7 2/3 innings with no earned runs Friday night.
“He had all the stuff working,” Clemson’s Okey said. “He was getting ahead in a lot of counts. The ball had a good tail to it to keep us off-balance. He had great stuff. Sometimes that happens.”
Crownover (6-4) scattered eight hits over seven innings, striking out six batters with all three of his runs earned. In his first three Friday starts, he had given up only five earned over 23 innings with 14 strikeouts.
“We weren’t quite sharp enough on the mound,” Leggett said. “We weren’t quite sharp enough with our bats. We weren’t quite sharp enough defensively. They were just a little bit better tonight and we have to come back tomorrow.”
Clemson attempts to even up the series in prime-time at 7 p.m.tonight. They will throw junior right-hander Daniel Gossett (5-0, 1.80 ERA).
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