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Big first inning allows Tigers to even series with Wahoos

After being shut out thanks to a great pitching performance from Virginia’s Daniel Lynch the day before, No. 9 Clemson got on top of starter Evan Sperling early and ran him out of the game before it even got started during a 7-6 victory over the No.11 Cavaliers on Saturday.

The Tigers (15-4, 4-1 ACC) scored six runs on four hits and two Virginia errors in the bottom of the first inning. Reed Rohlman doubled down the third base line and Jordan Greene singled through the right side moments later to plate two of the six runs. Patrick Cromwell also had an RBI single in the inning, while Chris Williams and Robert Jolly brought in runs as well. Clemson scored one run thanks to a Virginia error.

“Thank the Lord for the first inning,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “We had eight out of nine guys comes up to the plate with quality at-bats. We put together some really good at-bats there in the first inning and scored six runs.”

Five of Clemson’s six runs in the first inning came with two outs.

“One thing I was very proud of our guys is with two outs, Logan Davidson, 3-2 count, walk. Robert Jolly, 3-2 count, walk, RBI and then Jordan Greene had what I thought was the biggest at-bat of the day,” Lee said. “With two strikes he hit the ball to right field, he used the whole field and drove in a couple of runs and then Cromwell, a guy who has struggled a little bit, but a guy we believe in, came up with another big hit.”

It looked as if that was all the run support the Tigers needed as starter Alex Eubanks scattered eight hits in seven-complete innings of work. It was Eubanks’ second straight decision as he fanned five and walked none.

“We got that big lead early so my focus point from there on out was to pound the zone, get ahead with my fastball and make them beat us by hitting us,” Eubanks said.

Clemson added a seventh run in the bottom of the fourth inning following a two-run home run from Virginia’s Cameron Simmons in the top of the fourth. Williams’ home run to left field on a Bennett Sousa offering gave the Tigers a 7-2 lead after four innings of play.

“My main focus is seeing the ball well, and I feel like I’m doing a good job of that,” Williams said. “I’m getting in good counts and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win. Right now I’m just trying to get on base and hit the ball hard.”

The Cavaliers (15-4, 2-3 ACC) loaded the bases and pushed across three runs in the top of the eighth inning. All three runs were charged to Jacob Hennessy, who came on in the eighth inning for Eubanks. He lasted just a third of an inning and gave up three hits before Ryan Miller came in and got the final two outs of the inning.

Miller gave up a run in the top of the ninth inning, but still recorded the save, his first of the season.

The Tigers got two hits each from Chase Pinder, Greene and Cromwell. Greene and Williams each had two RBIs.

The rubber match between Virginia and Clemson in the three-game series will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

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