#ACCBase Championship: Virginia Edges Clemson With Two-Run Eighth Inning

May 24, 2012

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - The Virginia Cavaliers (37-16-1) scored a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally for a 3-2 win over the Clemson Tigers (32-25) in both team's 2012 ACC Tournament opener.

The tying run scored on a hit batter, while the winning run was forced in on a walk which was just fine with winning coach Brian O'Connor. "All year, we've been very opportunistic. We never really pound teams; we've done what we needed to do."

Virginia starter Branden Kline and Clemson starter Daniel Gossett struggled with control but both were able to work out of numerous jams. Gossett, a freshman, battled through early nerves, striking out Colin Harrington with the bases loaded in the first.

Kline walked the bases loaded in the third but struck out Brad Felder to end the threat.

The Cavaliers struck first in the bottom of the third. A hit batter and a walk put two runners on, with two outs. First baseman Jared King lined a single into left field, scoring Branden Cogswell.

Clemson center fielder Thomas Brittle robbed Chip Taylor of an extra-base hit and an RBI when he chased down a long fly ball in the bottom of the fourth.

A hit batter, a walk and a wild pitch put Clemson runners on second and third, with one out in the top of the fifth but Kline escaped with a ground out and a strike out.

Clemson tied the game in the sixth, when first baseman Jon McGibbon lined his fourth home run of the season, a blast over the right field fence.

Kline went seven innings, allowing four hits but walking five. He exited in style, striking out Phil Pohl with Steve Wilkerson on third and two outs in the top of the seventh.

Gossett lasted 6.2 innings before giving way for Joseph Moorefield, with two on and two outs. Gossett allowed only four hits but walked six.

Moorefield struck out Derek Fisher to end the seventh.

Kyle Crockett struck out Brad Felder leading off the Clemson eighth. But Virginia catcher Nate Irving couldn't come up with the pitch, which struck plate umpire Frank Sylvester's right elbow and bounced away.

The play was scored a passed ball.

Right fielder Harrington made a diving stop on Jay Baum's shallow pop fly. Felder stole second with one out. McGibbon hit a sharp grounder to short, which Chris Taylor booted, allowing Felder to score.

Taylor indicated that he "rushed, came up too early."

Mike Kent came on in the eighth for Clemson. After retiring the first two hitters, Kent allowed a single to Brandon Downes, hit Irving with a pitch and walked pinch-hitter Kenny Towns. Kent then hit Taylor with a pitch, sending in pinch-runner Mitchell Shifflett with the tying run.

Scott Firth replaced Kent, who walked Branden Cogswell, forcing Irving home with the go-ahead run.

Clemson coach Jack Leggett said his team "imploded" in the eighth inning. "The next thing I knew, we were behind a run. But we had lots of opportunities and didn't do anything with them."

O'Connor played the percentages leading off the ninth leaving the left-handed Crockett in to face left-handed hitting Brittle. The strategy worked, as Brittle struck out.

Closer Justin Thompson came in to face Richie Shaffer, Clemson's All-ACC slugger. Shaffer walked on a full-count, bringing up DH Phil Pohl. Thompson induced Pohl to hit into a game-ending double play, earning his 12th save of the season.

The double play was started by Taylor.

Crockett (5-2) got the win, while Kent (1-2) absorbed the loss.

Virginia has won 13 of its last 15 games and owns an eight-game winning streak against Clemson. The defending ACC Tournament champions play Georgia Tech Friday at 11 a.m.

Clemson plays Florida State at 3 p.m.