ACC Official Sponsors
Tickets & Travel
Legal & Advertising
@theACCDN Video: Highlights
Clemson rallies past Wake Forest to claim Pool B
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – Clemson became the first team to reach the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship title game, and no one can accuse the Tigers of doing it the easy way.
After rallying from three runs down to tie the score in the seventh inning, Clemson pushed the go-ahead run across the plate on a wild pitch in the top of the ninth to defeat 10th-seeded Wake Forest, 5-4, in the opening game of Saturday’s pool play session.
The victory gave the sixth-seeded Tigers (41-18) a three-game sweep of their Pool B opponents. Clemson advances to Sunday’s championship game and will face the Pool A winner – top-seeded Miami or fourth-seeded Florida State. The Hurricanes and Seminoles were set to meet in Saturday’s second game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, with the winner advancing.
Due to the threat of inclement weather, the starting time for Sunday’s championship game has been moved to 10 a.m. The contest will still be televised nationally by ESPN2.
With the Tigers and Demon Deacons deadlocked in a 4-4 tie with one out in the top of the ninth, Wake pitcher Parker Dunshee hit Clemson freshman Seth Beer with a pitch, an then yielded a double to Chris Okey to place runners at second and third base. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Weston Wilson popped up a foul ball to first for the second out of the inning.
Dunshee jumped ahead 0-2 on the count to Chris Williams, but then launched a high inside pitch that catcher Ben Breazeale was unable to pull down. Pinch-runner K.J. Bryant raced home and slid in safely as Dunshee took the recovery throw and attempted to apply a sweeping tag.
The one-run win was the 14th for Clemson this season, setting a school record. Sunday’s ACC Championship title game appearance will be the Tigers’ first since 2006, when they claimed the trophy at Jacksonville, Florida. Clemson is seeking its 10th ACC baseball title overall.
Pat Krall (10-1) picked up the win on the mound for the Tigers on Saturday. The junior reliever has two wins and a save in this year’s tournament. Dunshee (9-5), the starting and winning pitcher in last Tuesday’s first-round victory over Duke, took the loss for the Deacons.
Wake Forest took a 4-1 lead into the top of the seventh. But starting pitcher Drew Loepprich, who had yielded four hits while walking two batters and striking out six, gave way to reliever Donnie Sellers after throwing 100 pitches.
Sellers immediately ran into trouble, giving up a leadoff homer to Mike Triller before issuing a walk to pinch-hitter Jordan Greene. That set the table for Clemson sophomore Chase Pinder, who sent a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left field for his 10th homer of the season, tying the score at 4-4.
Triller finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of RBIs, and his home run on Saturday was his second of the tournament after hitting one in 25 regular-season at-bats.
Gavin Sheets and Johnny Aiello each went 2-for-4 to lead Wake Forest’s nine-hit attack. Breazeale’s two-run double sparked a three-run fourth inning for the Deacons, and Aiello added a run-scoring single.
Despite the loss, Wake Forest (34-25) remains hopeful of an NCAA at-large berth when the 64-team field is announced on Monday. The Deacons owned a No. 22 RPI in the NCAA rankings released Saturday, and their strength of schedule was rated 17th nationally.