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UNC downs Clemson in second game of Friday’s session
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – North Carolina didn’t accomplish everything it wanted to during the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship, but the Tar Heels did pick up a couple of wins --including one on Friday that should help their NCAA Tournament resume.
Skye Bolt hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in four runs, and All-ACC Freshman Team member J.B. Bukauskas delivered a quality start on the mound as UNC downed Clemson 6-3 in the tournament finale for both teams.
The Tar Heels improved to 34-24 on the season with the win, while the Tigers slipped to 32-27. Both teams finished 1-2 in Pool A play.
Bukauskas (5-3) went 5.2 innings, allowing five hits and two runs while walking none and striking out seven. Trevor Kelley pitched the final 3.1 innings in relief and threw a career-high 75 pitches in earning his second save of the Championship and his fifth of the year.
Bukauskas retired the first nine Clemson batters he faced in remarkable fashion. The UNC right-hander coaxed the Tigers into three ground ball outs to open the game, and then struck out the side in the second. He followed up by inducing three straight fly balls for outs in the top of the third.
Bolt rewarded Bukauskas’ stellar opening with three-run homer in the bottom of the third. All three runs were unearned, as a two-out error by Clemson shortstop Eli White had prolonged the inning.
Bukauskas’ streak of retired batters to open the game reached 11 before Tyler Krieger and Reed Rohlman rapped back-to-back singles with two outs in the top of the fourth. But Bukauskas escaped when Tigers All-ACC catcher Chris Okey’s fly ball to left ended the half-inning.
UNC went ahead 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Clemson starter Jake Long (2-1) departed after issuing his second walk of the inning, and Adam Pate greeted reliever Clate Schmidt with an RBI single to center on his first pitch. A bases-loaded walk to Bolt forced home another run.
Clemson got on the board in the sixth inning when White drew a walk, stole second and scored on Krieger’s two-out single to right field. Krieger went to third on another base hit by Rohlman and scored from there on a wild pitch by Kelley to trim the Tar Heels’ lead to 5-2.
The Tigers gave one run back in the bottom of the inning. UNC’s Tyler Ramirez singled with two outs and raced to third when an attempted pickoff throw by Clemson reliever Charlie Barnes sailed wide. Bolt followed with a high infield fly that popped out of White’s glove as Ramirez scored to make it 6-2.
Clemson wasn’t finished, as eighth-inning base hits by Rohlman, Okey and Weston Wilson led to one run and cut the deficit to 6-3. But the Tigers left two runners stranded as Kelley struck out Tyler Slaton swinging on a 2-2 pitch for the third out.
Long (2-1) took the loss for the Tigers, though only two of the five runs he yielded during his 3.2 inning stint were earned. Rohlman finished 3-for-4 at the plate for Clemson, which outhit UNC 9-5.
But the Tigers were hurt by the eight walks yielded the Tar Heels in addition to the ill-timed errors. Clemson pitchers combined to strike out 11 UNC batters, while Bukauskas and Kelley combined to walk two batters and strike out 10.