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Ninth inning rally lifts Tigers over Noles

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fourth-ranked Clemson built a nine-run lead in the first three innings and then saw it evaporate into the Florida night. However, when it mattered most, the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to defeat No. 25 Florida State 12-10 on Saturday night at Dick Howser Field in Tallahassee.

“What a crazy game,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee told The Clemson Insider after the game. “I am just so proud of my team for hanging in there and finding a way to get it done. We scored a lot of runs early in the ballgame.”

Clemson (30-5, 14-2 ACC) took the lead again in the top of the ninth inning after the Seminoles completed their rally with nine unanswered runs, including three in the bottom of the seventh inning. Grayson Byrd got things going when he and Chase Pinder both reached on FSU errors at first base.

Reed Rohlman followed with a single to load the bases, and with two outs Seth Beer came up big with a single to centerfield to score Byrd and Pinder for the game-winning runs.

Ryley Gilliam, who came in with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, earned the win after now allowing a run to score in 2 2/3 innings of relief.

Clemson jumped out to a lead in the first inning after Pinder singled to start the game and then Rohlman followed with a single to left. Logan Davidson hit a ground ball that worked like a bunt to advance Pinder and Rohlman, before Chris Williams’ hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Pinder.

The Tigers led 1-0 after the top of the first.

In the second inning, Clemson broke the game open thanks to six doubles. All six runs were scored with two outs. Byrd walked to start the inning and with two outs, Pinder doubled to score Byrd. Rohlman followed with a double to score Pinder and Davidson doubled to right center to score Rohlman.

Williams hit one to left field, which allowed Davidson to score. Beer, who had three hits including a home run,  doubled to score Williams. Robert Jolly then doubled to plate Beer.

After the top of the second inning, Clemson led 8-0.

The Tigers added another run in the third before Florida State (21-15, 7-9 ACC) got on the board with a run, but starter Charlie Barnes worked out of trouble getting a strikeout with the bases loaded to the inning with no more danger.

Clemson responded in the fourth, when Beer hit a bomb over the screen in right center to put Clemson up 10-1.

Things went downhill from there for the Tigers. Florida State plated three runs in the fourth to cut Clemson’s lead to 10-4. In the bottom of the fifth it got a two-run home run to make it 10-6.

The comeback continued in the sixth with another run, and in the bottom of the seventh the Seminoles scored three runs to tie the game.

“Florida State you just have to give them credit.  They hit everything in sight,” said Lee.

Barnes, who had been solid all year, did not have his best stuff, as he went just five innings, while giving up seven hits, six runs, which were all earned.

Clemson and Florida State will play Game 2 of the three-game series on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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