Tigers Claw Past Blue Devils in Wednesday Opener

Photo by Sara D. Davis for theACC.com

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Crownover, Krieger lead Clemson to ACC Baseball Championship win

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – On Monday, Clemson pitcher Matthew Crownover and designated hitter Tyler Krieger earned spots on the 2014 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Team. Those in attendance at NewBridge Bank Park on Wednesday saw the reasons why.

Crownover delivered 7 2/3 strong innings, and Krieger came through with a tie-breaking double, keying the fifth-seeded Tigers to a 5-3 win over fourth-seeded Duke as pool play began in the 41st annual ACC Baseball Championship.

Crownover (8-5) allowed five hits and issued one walk while striking out nine. The third-team All-ACC sophomore departed with a 3-2 lead with two outs in the eighth, and earned the win as the Tigers added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth and the bullpen held on in the bottom of the inning.

”All along the way, Matthew Crownover was excellent for us,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. “He was all around the plate all day long, and really just hit two balls hard off him.  I thought he was very good.  He's been pitching like that for us all year long.”

Michael Matuella (1-3) started on the mound for the Blue Devils and took the loss. He allowed eight hits and three earned runs while striking out four batters and walking three.

Duke (32-24) will face ninth-seeded Georgia Tech on Thursday at 3 p.m., while Clemson (35-22) will meet top-seeded Miami in the 7 p.m. game.

The Blue Devils went up 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning on Wednesday as Chris Marconcini led off with an infield single and Ryan Dietrich sent a 0-1 pitch from Crownover over the wall in left-center for his eighth home run of the season.

Clemson got a run back in the top of the fourth on Garrett Boulware’s RBI single. The Tigers threatened for more with two on and just one out, but a Duke double play ended the half-inning. 

The Tigers claimed a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth courtesy of Krieger’s two-out, two-run double. Krieger sent a 2-0 pitch from Matuella down the right field line following base hits by Chis Okey and Weston Wilson. 

Krieger, a native of Jones Creek, Georgia and a second-team All-ACC selection at shortstop, finished 2-for-3 and reached base in four of his five plate appearances. Due to a sore shoulder, Krieger has been filling the designated hitter’s role for the Tigers the past three weeks.

“Obviously, I'd love to be out on the field playing, but my shoulder's not allowing me to do that,” Krieger said. “But I'm lucky to be able to swing the bat without any pain and help this team in any way, because I love playing with these guys and I love being able to get a chance in the lineup.”

Steven Duggar came through with a two-run single off Duke reliever Andrew Istler in the top of the ninth, putting the Tigers up 5-2.

“I thought Crownover was really, really good for them,” Blue Devils coach Chris Pollard said. “He's a tremendous competitor, and they did a great job getting clutch hits, obviously, the clutch hit in the fourth and a clutch hit again in the ninth inning.”

The Blue Devils didn’t go quietly in their final at-bat, as Grant McCabe and Matt Berezo drew two-out walks from Drew Moyer. Dietrich greeted Clemson closer Matt Campbell with a single for his third RBI of the game, pushing Duke within 5-3. Campbell retired Mike Rosenfeld on a long fly ball to right-center, with Tyler Slaton making a running catch for the final out.

Boulware joined Krieger and Duggar in collecting two hits for Clemson, which outhit Duke 10-6. Dietrich (2-for-4, three RBIs) was the only Blue Devil with multiple hits.

“Ultimately, we've got to make a good adjustment with our offensive approach in batting practice tomorrow which will lead to better results, more runs across the board,” Duke’s Pollard said. “We had some opportunities today, and we just didn't have the right type of offensive approach to take advantage of it.”