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Tigers shake off rain delays, hold off Florida State
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – After waiting a decade between ACC Baseball Championship titles, Clemson wasn’t about to let a few rain delays get in the way.
The sixth-seeded Tigers rolled up an early lead against fourth-seeded Florida State, waited out nearly five hours of suspended play due to inclement weather, and ultimately held off the Seminoles for an 18-13 victory in Sunday’s tournament final at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The game’s first pitch was thrown at 11:02 a.m. The final out was recorded at 7:22 p.m.
As the ACC champion, Clemson (42-18) receives the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which gets underway later this week.
The ACC baseball championship is Clemson’s 15th and first since 2006. The Tigers’ last three head coaches each won the ACC title in their first year at the helm – Bill Wilhelm in 1958, Jack Leggett in 1994 and Monte Lee this season. This year’s ACC title is the 10th Clemson has won via a tournament format, which began in 1973.
Chris Okey and Chase Pinder each drove in four runs to lead the Tigers’ run fest, and Eli White and Mike Triller had three hits apiece. Florida State’s Dylan Busby hit his third and fourth home runs of the ACC Championship and drove in three runs as the Seminoles played their way within striking distance after falling behind by 17 runs after 3 ½ innings.
Triller, a graduate student who began his Clemson career as a walk-on and entered the tournament 4-for-25 for the season, went 6-for-13 in the ACC Championship with three doubles and two home runs to earn tournament MVP honors.
Sunday’s game was first delayed for 13 minutes at the end of the first inning with Clemson holding a 3-1 lead. The Tigers scored three times in the top of the first on Okey’s RBI double and a pair of throwing errors that allowed two more runs to score. FSU got one run back in the bottom of the inning on Cal Raleigh’s sacrifice fly.
Shortly after play resumed, FSU starter Ed Voyles (1-2) was replaced by his twin brother, Jim Voyles, after Clemson loaded the bases on an error, a hit batter and a walk. The Tigers proceeded to put five more runs on the board to go ahead 8-1, with Reed Rohlman’s two-out, two-run single capping the flurry.
The Seminoles’ four fielding errors through the first two innings matched a season high, and five of Clemson’s first eight runs were unearned.
Rain again halted the game during the top of the third and kept the teams off the field for a total two hours and 41 minutes.
Things didn’t get better for FSU when play resumed, as Pinder’s bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run burst that pushed the Tigers’ lead to 13-1. Nor in the fourth inning, when two-run doubles by Chris Williams and Okey keyed yet another five-run outburst that made it 18-1.
The Seminoles didn’t quit, as Tyler Holton’s two-run homer and Busby’s third round-tripper of the tournament chased Clemson starter Brooks Crawford and highlighted a four-run fourth. Busby connected on a two-run homer to cap eight-run eighth inning as FSU pushed its run total to double-digits before lightning in the area forced stoppage of play for the third time.
Following another delay of 1:54, the Tigers went down in order the top of the ninth. But Clemson closer Pat Krall finished off the Seminoles in the bottom of the frame, shaking off a two-out single by Taylor Walls.
The total of 31 runs scored on Sunday tied for the second-most in ACC title-game history (also Wake Forest over Clemson 22-9 in 1977), and were one off the record (Clemson 24-8 over Georgia Tech in 1991). The teams also combined for 10 doubles in Sunday’s game, tying the ACC Championship title game record for two teams.
In addition to Clemson’s automatic bid, the ACC is hopeful of being well represented later this evening when the NCAA announces its national tournament hosts, and again on Monday when the complete 64-team field in unveiled. Despite Sunday’s loss, Florida State (37-20) remains in prime position for its 39th consecutive berth. The Seminoles’ current streak of 38 consecutive NCAA appearances ranks second nationally behind Miami’s 43.
The 2016 ACC Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team:
C - Matt Thaiss, Virginia
1B - Dylan Busby, Florida State
2B - Johnny Ruiz, Miami
3B - Edgar Michelangeli, Miami
SS - Daniel Pinero, Virginia
OF - Jackson Lueck, Florida State
OF - Reed Rohlman, Clemson
OF - Matt Gonzalez, Georgia Tech
Util/DH - Mike Triller, Clemson
P - Pat Krall, Clemson
P - Clate Schmidt, Clemson
MVP – Mike Triller, Clemson