GREENSBORO, N.C. — Two on and an out into the ninth inning, Clemson and No. 6 Miami appeared to be in a 2-2 deadlock destined for extras.
That is, if you follow trends.
The Tigers — riding a 4-for-35 run against the Hurricanes this season with runners in scoring position — had senior second baseman Steve Wilkerson at the plate. And on Miami closer Bryan Garcia’s first delivery, he flipped the script with an RBI single to right field for a 3-2 walk-off victory.
The Tigers (36-22) stayed atop Pool A with a 2-0 record and earned coach Jack Leggett win No. 1,300 all-time. The victory broke up a run of six-straight losses to Miami, totaling more than two runs for the first time against it this season.
“That will be one I’ll remember for a long time,” Leggett said. “It was a night full of great moments.”
Wilkerson was 3-for-5 on the night, while junior center fielder Tyler Slaton scored after drawing his team-best third walk of the night.
Working against co-ACC pitcher of the year Chris Diaz, 11 of the Tigers’ first 23 batters reached base. Nine worked him to three-ball counts in the first four frames, hitting the century mark in pitches by the fifth inning.
How many Tigers scored on hits in that stretch? Zero, an 0-for-10 run that stretched on from the Hurricanes (40-17) sweep of Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium earlier this season, where they went 3-for-23 with RISP.
Miami wasn’t doing much better, however.
They broke through in the third inning after three consecutive singles — two coming across then without a hit. Tigers junior ace Daniel Gossett hitting a batter and misfiring a wild pitch.
By the fifth, they matched Clemson in runners left on base (7).
Coming in as a defensive replacement in the sixth frame, all senior co-captain Jon McGibbon needed was a favorable count (3-1) and he teed off to right field to tie things up off from Miami righty submariner Cooper Hammond.
“(I’m) just trying to be there for my guys whenever I need it,” McGibbon said. “Coach Leggett called my number and saw a couple pitches and he laid one right down the middle and I was able to tie it up.”
They traded blows from there into the late innings in missed chances.
The Hurricanes left a pair on to accumulate nine LOB by the seventh. Clemson mounted a two-out rally and eventually put two in scoring position, where pinch-hitter Mike Dunster worked a full count and Miami closer Bryan Garcia (5-4) blazed a fastball past him.
Gossett left with a no-decision, but not before registering his 11th consecutive quality start — throwing 8 1/3 innings, with eight strikeouts.
Leaving after 116 pitches, Miami threatened again — putting runners on the corners with out before Tigers freshman reliever Drew Moyer (5-1) delivered a ground ball out to second.
Clemson’s ACC championship hopes were relying on a win in today’s 3 p.m. game against Georgia Tech, and at 2-0 in pool play, all they need is a win to reach their first conference tournament final since 2006.
Today’s matchup is the first between the I-85 rivals this year, after ending a run of meeting each regular season since 1973. Clemson is 19-8 all-time against the Jackets at a neutral site.
“It’s an exciting game, but we have to focus on tomorrow,” Leggett said. “This can fade away quickly if we don’t win tomorrow.
“We have to get ourselves ready to play tomorrow and get to the next goal of the ACC Championship.”