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Virginia embarrasses Tigers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Never in his Clemson career had Pat Krall given up six runs in a game. In Friday’s ACC Tournament exhibition game against No. 10 Virginia, the lefty gave up six runs in the first inning as the Cavaliers beat the No. 14 Tigers, 10-2, at Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Ky.

The Tigers lost to Duke on the first day of the ACC Championships, 6-3. The 2016 ACC Champions were 4-0 in last year’s tournament.

Krall gave up six straight hits to open the game and did not record an out as Virginia quickly ran him out of the game. Krall gave up four straight singles to start the game and then allowed a double by Robbie Coman before Cameron Simmons hit a bomb to left field for a 6-1 lead.

“We could not stop the bleeding,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said afterward. “We tried to get (Alex) Eubanks into the ballgame as quickly as we could, but by that point they were centering every baseball that came across the plate.”

It was the worst time of the year for Krall to have the worst game of his career as the Tigers (39-19) desperately needed a victory to stay in the conversation for a regional bid in next week’s NCAA Tournament. However, Clemson heads into next week’s tournament as losers in 11 of their last 16 games, including 11 defeats in its last 12 ACC games.

It appeared Krall was a perfect choice to start against Virginia considering he had a team-best 8-2 record and an ERA of 2.98 coming in. He also beat the Cavaliers 12-1 back in Clemson on March 19 when he allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings of work.

“Pat has been one of our best pitchers for the last two years and he deserved the opportunity to go out there and start today,” Lee said. “He threw well against Virginia earlier in the year and he has been good for us. But he caught them in a hot inning where they got a lot of momentum going.”

At first, Eubanks did not do so well either. He gave up two more runs on three hits in the first inning as Virginia led 8-1 after one inning. In all, the Cavaliers had nine hits and brought 12 runners to the plate in the first.

Virginia’s Andy Weber doubled to right field to drive in another run after Krall left the game and then Ernie Clement got his second hit of the inning and drove in a run himself when he singled up the middle to score Weber for an 8-1 lead.

“Virginia’s one of the best offensive teams in our league and once they get their momentum going, it is very hard to stop them,” Lee said. “You have to make pitches and you have to make plays. It just did not happen for us in the first inning.”

Clemson grabbed an early lead on Virginia when Seth Beer drove in Chase Pinder with a fielder’s choice to second base. Pinder opened the game with a lead-off walk and then moved to third base when Reed Rohlman singled to right field.

Beer then hit into a force at second base which got Rohlman out at second, but was good enough to score Pinder from third for a brief 1-0 lead.

While Krall struggled, Virginia starter Daniel Lynch was brilliant as he gave up only one run and just five hits in seven innings of work. Through six innings, 17 of Clemson’s 21 outs against Lynch came on ground balls.

“The bottom line is you are not going to do damage at the plate unless you hit some balls into the gaps,” Lee said. “Twenty one outs and seventeen of them were on the ground.”

The Cavaliers improve to 42-14 with the win.

The Tigers added to the embarrassment in the bottom of the fifth inning when catcher Kyle Wilkie threw the ball high to first base on a called third strike, allowing Simmons to come home from second base to make the score 9-1.

Weston Jackson hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning for Clemson’s second run.

Clemson is now 0-5 all-time in games play in Louisville. The NCAA will announce its 16 regional sites on Sunday night and then the selection show will be Monday afternoon.

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