SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame took Game 1 of its three-game series against Clemson with a 5-2 win Saturday afternoon at a chilly Frank Eck Stadium in South Bend, Ind. It was the first loss ever for head coach Monte Lee against the Irish.
“It was cold, there was no doubt about it, but it was cold for them too,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee told The Clemson Insider after the game. “I know they practice and play in it more than we do, but we can’t use it as an excuse. We have to adapt and adjust. We have to keep moving and we can’t let it be a factor.”
Clemson freshman Kier Meredith played his first game for the Tigers and showed he will be a big boost to the lineup. The freshman went 2-for-3 at the plate including a triple and the first bunt-single of the year for Clemson.
However, Clemson went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-7 with two outs, which led to the loss. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the seventh inning and in the eighth inning. They also had a runner at second and in scoring position in the sixth inning and left a runner stranded at third in the ninth.
The loss snapped Clemson’s five-game winning streak.
Jacob Hennessy got the start for the Tigers. Hennessy went 6 2/3 innings and gave up four runs off seven hits. All four runs were earned. He threw 104 pitches.
Notre Dame (13-16, 5-8 ACC) jumped on the Tigers early. In the first inning a lead-off walk was followed by a two-run home run. After one the Irish led 2-0.
Clemson (23-7, 8-5 ACC) got on the board in the third. Jordan Greene hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Grayson Bryd, who started the inning with a walk. That made score 2-1 in favor of the Irish.
The Irish added another run in the fourth to up 3-1.
Byrd got that run right back for the Tigers. With one out in the fifth he towering shot, one the wind helped carry over the wall in right field.
Notre Dame led 3-2 after five innings.
Clemson threatened in the seventh inning, Byrd walked before Meredith reached on a bunt advancing Byrd to second. Logan Davidson then walked to load the bases. However, Greene popped up to short and Seth Beer grounded out to short as the Tigers stranded all three runners.
Notre Dame got a big two-out hit in the bottom of the seventh to stretch the lead to 4-2 before Clemson loaded the bases again in the eighth with one out but once again couldn’t get a run home as Byrd and Meredith went down on strikes.
“We had run scoring opportunities. We just couldn’t step up and hit a sac fly when we needed a sac fly or a base hit with runners on base,” Lee said. “That was really the difference in the ballgame. They took advantage of their run scoring opportunities.
“They had less run scoring opportunities then we did but their guys did a good job of putting good swings on the ball with runners in scoring position and we did not and that was the difference in the game.”
The Irish added an insurance run in the eighth with a solo home run.
Clemson and Notre Dame will play a doubleheader Sunday with the first game starting at 11 a.m.