CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Third-ranked Clemson blew a great opportunity on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C. Well, the bullpen did.
Leading by three runs heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Clemson gave up four runs to No. 4 North Carolina to lose the game, 5-4. Zack Gahagan flew out to right field with one out in the bottom of the eighth to score Brandon Riley from third with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
The Tigers (34-10, 16-7 ACC) led 4-1 going into the UNC eighth inning, when first Ryley Gilliam and then Brian Hennessy came on in relief of starter Alex Eubanks, who left with two on and one out. Up to that point, Eubanks pitched masterfully, through 7 1/3 innings. The junior gave up one run, while scattering five hits in the first seven innings.
He finished the game with six strikeouts and one walk with three runs allowed. Gilliam, who gave up two hits and two runs and did not record an out in relief of Eubanks, suffered his first loss of the season in three decisions. Jacob Hennessy also came on in relief and could not put out the fire.
The Tar Heels (35-9, 18-5 ACC) used five straight one-out singles in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally for the victory. It marked just the second time this season Clemson has lost a game by one-run and the first time a team beat the Tigers’ on their final at-bat of the game.
The Tigers are now 9-2 in one-run games this year.
Clemson took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning after getting three straight one-out hits.
Robert Jolly doubled down the leftfield line with one out to score Logan Davidson, who singled through the ride side earlier in the inning, for the game’s first run. The double moved Andrew Cox to third base after he singled to right field.
Cox scored on a passed ball, which allowed Jolly to move to third and then Jordan Greene hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Jolly for the third run.
The Tar Heels did get a run back in the bottom frame when Tyler Lynn doubled to right centerfield with two outs, scoring Riley from first base, who had singled through the right side with one out earlier in the inning.
The Tigers added an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning when Seth Beer flied out to left field to score Reed Rohlman, who got on after being hit by a pitch. Chris Williams singled to right center to move Rohlman to third, setting up Beer for the sac fly to give Clemson its 4-1 lead.
The Tar Heels, who took a 2-0 lead in the series and clinched it with its dramatic comeback, will host Clemson in Game 3 on Sunday at 1 p.m.