No. 11 Clemson got a good look at effective left-handed pitching Tuesday night, taking the good with the bad going into a rivalry series with No. 3 South Carolina this weekend.
They also used some early runs and strong relief pitching to come away with a 4-2 win over Presbyterian (4-3-1).
The Tigers (6-1) will likely face lefty starters on Friday in Columbia (Jordan Montgomery) and Saturday in Greenville (Jack Wynkoop), as a part of a staff that boasts a 0.86 ERA.
Blue Hose left-handed starter Brian Kehner (0-2) held those same Gamecocks to an earned run with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings last week in a loss.
The redshirt freshman's night at Doug Kingsmore looked like anything but a repeat early, giving up his 1-0 first inning lead with three runs on five hits. Clemson sophomore right fielder Steven Duggar's two-run double to left field extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
The soft-tossing southpaw would settle down though, retiring 12 of the next 13 Tigers.
With their first leadoff runner on since the first frame, Clemson found some success again at the plate. Freshman third baseman Weston Wilson's single was rewarded by an RBI fielder's choice off freshman catcher Chris Okey's bat. It was his team-leading 11th RBI of the young season.
Kehner, then senior lefty Paul Sanders in relief, contained the Tigers to one more knock over their last two innings. Kehner threw just short of 100 pitches, scattering eight hits and four earned runs over 6 1/3.
Clemson's relief starred to keep this one from being a regret come tourney time.
Sophomore left-hander Zack Erwin made his first start of the season, but lasted just 1 1/3 innings after some control issues.
Sophomore righty Clate Schmidt (1-1) cleaned up the mess, allowing one hit over 4 2/3 innings to earn the win. Through five innings, Schmidt fired strikes 27 of his first 35 pitches.
Redshirt junior right-hander Clay Bates kept the momentum rolling with a 1-2-3 seventh. In 19 batters faced this season, he has allowed only three hits, with seven strikeouts to zero walks.
Senior righty Matt Campbell took the save (1) with a 1-2-3 ninth. All-totaled, Clemson relievers held the Blue Hose to one hit and zero runs over 7 2/3 innings.
"We didn't start off well pitching-wise and Zack is better than that," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "He didn't quite have it early, so we went to Clate.
"Clate did a great job slowing things down and Bates, Andrews, and Campbell came on strong at the end. Our relief pitching was very good and our defensive was very good. We had 18 assists and no errors, so we played very well defensively."
Sophomore shortstop Tyler Krieger (2-for-4) and Wilson (2-3) were the Tigers with multi-hit efforts.