DURHAM, N.C. — When Patrick Andrews came into the game on Saturday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, No. 6 seed Clemson found itself in a three-run hole to No. 10 seed Wake Forest and things were falling apart fast.
Johnny Aiello, who had an RBI single in the inning, got caught stealing second base, but Clemson shortstop Eli White dropped Chis Okey’s perfect throw. Then Andrews hit Jonathan Pryor and White muffed a grounder to short to load the bases.
It was not a great situation. The Demon Deacons had the bases loaded with one out and things looked very bleak for Andrews. But the senior, who missed most of the last two years because of Tommy John surgery, became the unsung hero in the Tigers’ 5-4 come-from-behind victory in the ACC Championships, sending them to the ACC Title Game.
“He did an incredible job,” said Okey, who had a double in the top of the ninth inning to set up Clemson’s game-winning run.
Andrews got Nate Mondou to pop up to third base to induce the infield fly rule for the second out and then got Stuart Fairchild to fly out to centerfield to end the inning and keep the Deacons close.
It proved to be big as the Tigers (41-18) rallied to score three runs in the top of the seventh inning on Mike Triller’s solo home run and Chase Pinder’s two-run shot. Clemson then won the game when K.J. Bryant beat the tag of pitcher Parker Dunshee after a wild pitch with two outs in the top of ninth inning.
Pat Krall recorded his 10th win of the season as he gave up just one hit in 2 1/3 innings to close the game, but it was Andrew’s 3 1/3 scoreless innings that gave the Tigers a chance to win.
“When you bring in a guy like Pat Andrews, who has been there and has done that and knows what the situation is, I had one percent faith in him,” Okey said. “He is a great pitcher. He is a veteran guy. He did an incredible job giving us a chance to win and holding them up.”
The Demon Deacons (34-25) got just one hit on the righty after that as he recorded 10 outs in the last 13 batters he faced.
“We trailed 4-1 early in the game and then went ahead late and a lot of that had to do with the fact Patrick Andrews kept them at bay,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “(Alex Eubanks) was not at his best and Pat Andrews came in and held them at bay to get us to Pat Krall.”
In his last eight appearances, Andrews has not allowed a run in 11 1/3 innings of work. He has given up just four hits, struck out eight and walked four.
“He was the bridge guy to get us to Pat Krall today and he did an outstanding job,” Lee said. “I’m very proud of Pat. He is one of those guys that just comes up big for us when we need him to, and he did it in a big spot again today.”