Tigers can’t bring runners home

Tigers can’t bring runners home

Baseball

Tigers can’t bring runners home

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Clemson had what it wanted at Louisville on Saturday.

With one run already home in the top seventh inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out and had their two best hitters up.

It seemed like a sure thing they were going to at least get one more run home. Instead, Chris Okey struck out looking on three pitches, and then Seth Beer hit into a force at second base. Clemson got no more, allowing Louisville to clinch the series with a 7-2 victory at Patterson Stadium.

The Cardinals won Game 1 of the series on Friday. Game 3 will be at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The Tigers’ futility with runners in scoring position is now 9-for-56 in their last six games. They banged out seven hits in the first two innings and only had one run to show for it. It did not help that they hit into four inning-ending double plays as well during the course of the game.

Clemson finished the game with 11 hits.

“It’s one of those things that the more you talk about it … Sometimes guys go up there and put a little pressure on themselves. Unneeded and unwarranted pressure,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “That’s back on me. Again, mentality, I have to get our guys in a place where they are confident and they are ready to go when they step up there with runners on base.

“I’m doing everything I can, but I need to do more. I have to be held accountable for it, too. I am not doing a good enough job of getting our offense ready to play.”

Louisville (28-7, 12-5 ACC), like good teams do, made the Tigers pay in the bottom of the seventh inning by scoring two runs, one on an error, to put the game away. The Cardinals were 5 of 15 with runners in scoring position.

Clemson (24-11, 8-9 ACC) got its lead-off batter on base five times, but it only brought him home twice. K.J. Bryant scored on an RBI single by Okey in the top of the third inning, after leading off with a single up the middle. Jordan Greene doubled to left centerfield to start the seventh and scored on a Bryant single to short a few moments later.

The Tigers then loaded the bases when Chase Pinder drew a walk. But Okey struck out and then Beer hit a grounder to second to end the threat. Clemson was 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position in Game 2.

Weston Wilson, Reed Rohlman and Okey all grounded into inning double plays.

Will Smith hit an eighth inning home run off Brooks Crawford to extend the Cardinals lead to 7-2.

Charlie Barnes (3-4) suffered the loss for Clemson, despite pitching well enough to win. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits. The lefty had four strikeouts and no walks, but again two Clemson errors, plus the inability to field a couple of third inning bunts did him and the Tigers in.

“I give a lot of credit to Charlie Barnes. I thought Charlie pitched a lot better than he deserved in terms of his line,” Lee said.

Drew Harrington (8-1) earned the win for Louisville, though the Tigers were able to record 11 hits off the junior. But only two of the 11 hits crossed home plate.

Pinder, Beer, Bryant and Chris Williams each had two hits for Clemson.

Corey Ray and Danny Rosenbaum had two hits to lead Louisville.

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