Once again No. 3 Clemson found a way to win a game that appeared it had already lost. Clemson’s Chris Williams’ drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring home Chase Pinder with the game-winning run as the Tigers rallied to beat No. 17 Wake Forest, 8-7, in Game 1 of the three-game series on Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The Tigers, who have now rallied to win nine games this season and improved to 8-1 in one-run games, trailed by two runs heading into the ninth inning, but used two hits, one hit batter and three walks to rally for an important victory.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” Pinder said.
The win, coupled with Louisville’s loss to Duke earlier in the day, pulled the Tigers (32-7, 15-4) back in a tie for first place in the ACC Atlantic Division Standings.
“This team never loses confidence no matter what the score or the situation,” said Reed Rohlman, who had an RBI single in the ninth inning. “It is amazing to see from the freshmen all the way up to the seniors that we have seen this attitude towards baseball that we are never going to lose. Even if we are down to our last strike, we still have the most confidence out there.”
With one out, Jordan Greene got the rally started with a base hit up the middle and Weston Jackson was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Chase Pinder then loaded the bases with a walk and Rohlman followed with a single to right field on a 3-1 count to score Greene.
Logan Davidson then brought in the tying run, Jackson, with a sac fly to deep centerfield. Seth Beer loaded the bases again with another drawn walk before Williams walked in the winning run.
Wake’s Griffin Roberts suffered the loss after walking in the game-winning run. Jacob Hennessy, who came on in the in ninth inning, earned the win for the Tigers.
“That is one of the most exciting games that I think I have been a part of,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “As that was happening, and as I was thinking there in the ninth inning, that I do not recall ever being a part of a game more exciting than that one.”
Both teams finished the game with 12 hits as Rohlman led Clemson with a 3-for-5 night with one RBI. Beer and Williams each drove in two runs, while Andrew Cox and Davidson also had an RBI.
Wake Forest was led by Johnny Aiello’s three hits in four at-bats, while Stuart Fairchild went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Ben Breazeeale was 2-for-5 with an RBI as well.
The Demon Deacons (28-12, 12-7 ACC) took the lead in the top of the eighth inning when Bruce Steel singled through the left side to plate Breazeale with the go-ahead run.
Ryley Gilliam, who gave up the hit to Steel after coming in for Patrick Andrews on a one-on-one count, walked in a second run after the Deacons loaded the bases with two outs. Five of Wake’s seven runs have come with two outs.
In the first inning, Beer hit a double over Wake Forest first baseman Gavin Sheets’ outstretched hand to score the game’s first two runs.
The Tigers started the inning with back-to-back hits from Pinder and Rohlman and then a walk from Davidson. Beer then dropped his double into right field with no outs to score Pinder and Rohlman.
Williams followed with a deep sac fly to centerfield to score Davidson and Cox did the same thing to score Beer as the Tigers led 4-0 after one inning.
Wake Forest got a two-out RBI single from Fairchild and then a two-run home run from Sheets to make it a 4-3 game in the top of the third inning.
Clemson extend its lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Greene came home following two wild pitches by Wake pitcher Parker Dunshee. Greene led off the Tigers’ fourth with an infield hit when he ran out a chopper to short. He later moved to second when Pinder singled to centerfield and then got to third on the first of Dunshee’s two wild pitches.
Wake cut the lead to one-run again in the top of the fifth inning when Breazeale got a two-out single to left centerfield to score Jonathan Pryor.
The Demon Deacons tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, 5-5, and chased off Clemson starter Charlie Barnes in the process. Barnes finished the game with five runs allowed on eight hits in five innings of work. He struck out just three batters and walked two.
Clemson and Wake Forest will play a doubleheader on Saturday to close out the series. The first game will start at 2 p.m. and the third game will begin approximately 45 minutes after the first game.