With his college career winding down, Clemson outfielder Weston Jackson is relishing and trying to make the most of the time he has left as a Tiger.
It showed on Sunday night, when the graduate transfer went 3-for-5 with a home run, double, three RBIs and two runs scored to help lead No. 1 seed Clemson to a 6-0 win over No. 2 seed Vanderbilt in Game 6 of the Clemson Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“It’s do-or-die, and I don’t have too many of these games left,” Jackson said. “So, I’m just trying to enjoy it the best I possibly can. It’s the game that I’ve loved since I was 5, and I just enjoy it.”
Jackson paced Clemson’s offense, which backed starting pitcher Tyler Jackson, who allowed just two hits, no runs and a walk over nine innings for his first career shutout.
Clemson’s victory forced a winner-take-all game against Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. today to determine the Clemson Regional champion.
“It was just a different vibe from the get-go,” Jackson said. “A lot of the guys were confident. We had confidence in Tyler Jackson coming out, and he did an unreal job. We haven’t played like that in a long time, and it was great to get going.”
Jackson, who transferred to Clemson from Presbyterian College for his final year of eligibility, sat out Clemson’s elimination game against UNC Greensboro earlier in the day before being inserted into the lineup for the nightcap.
The native of Greer, S.C., gave the Tigers some breathing room in the top of the sixth inning when he sent his eighth home run of the season over the left-center field fence, a solo blast that made the score 2-0.
“It was a one-one count, and he left a slider up,” Jackson said. “I was able to put a good swing on it. We talked earlier, a couple days ago, about how big it is to stay positive throughout your at-bats. My first at-bat I popped up to right field, and my second at-bat I check-swung in the dirt. I just found a way to stay positive and not make it about me, but make it about the team. That really helped me.”
Jackson got his job done in right field, as well. In the bottom of the fourth inning, with Ro Coleman on first base, Jackson robbed Jeren Kendall of an extra-base hit and a possible RBI when he tracked down the ball and nearly doubled up Coleman at first base.
“I had a lot more time than I thought,” Jackson said of the play. “I knew the kid running was really fast. He had some wheels, and honestly I should have taken my time and made an accurate throw.”
Jackson continued to make plays in the fifth inning, robbing Jason Delay of a sure extra-base hit as well.
Later, after leading off the eighth inning with a single and scoring one of Clemson’s two insurance runs in the frame, Jackson helped put the finishing touches on the victory with a two-RBI double in the ninth inning that provided the final margin.
“We came out today, and it was do-or-die,” Jackson said. “We have a bunch of guys that are seniors that aren’t going to be playing in this program much longer, and we weren’t ready to give up. We weren’t ready for it to be done.”