ATHENS, Ga. — Things started out promising for 13th-ranked Clemson Tuesday at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., but they quickly turned.
After Logan Davidson led off the game with solo home run to right center field, 12th-ranked Georgia answered with four runs in the bottom of the first inning thanks to Aaron Schunk’s two-out triple to right to score two runs and Adam Sasser’s two-run home run to left as the Bulldogs crushed the Tigers, 6-1.
With the win, coupled with last week’s victory in North Augusta, S.C., Georgia swept the two-game series with Clemson for the first time since 2015.
The Tigers have lost four of their last five games.
“Give Georgia credit,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “They were the better ballclub tonight and they were the better ballclub last week. They are one of the more balanced teams that we have played this year.”
The Tigers (26-11) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Davidson sent Will Proctor’s 0-2 offering over the wall in right-center.
With an early lead, starter Travis Marr seemed okay as he got the first two batters out. However, he hit Keegan McGovern to keep the inning alive and then Michael Curry singled to center field to move McGovern to third base. Schunk then tripled to score both runners and Sasser followed with his bomb to left for a 4-1 lead.
“They hit us right there in the mouth in the first inning,” Lee said. “Besides the first inning, we threw the ball really, really well.”
The Bulldogs (26-11) stretched the lead 6-1 with single runs in the second and third innings. Tucker Bradley doubled to left field to score Ivan Johnson, who singled to center with one out in the second, while Schunk flew out to right field in the third inning to score McGovern for a five-run lead.
Clemson had its opportunities to get back in the game. In the top of the second inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs as Kyle Wilkie and Kier Meredith got back-to-back hits and Davidson drew a walk. However, Jordan Greene grounded into a force at third base to end the threat.
In the fourth inning, Drew Wharton reached with no outs on an error from Cam Shepherd at short. He then moved to second on a wild pitch. However, he was strained there as Wilkie popped up in foul territory down the first base line and Meredith struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Tigers had another opportunity in the top of the eighth to push a run across after Seth Beer reached with one out and Cromwell singled to center to move Beer to third. But Wharton struck out looking to end the threat once again.
Clemson was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
After Marr was run off after an inning and third of work, the Tigers got good relief pitching from Carson Spiers, Spencer Strider, Owen Griffith, Sam Weatherly and Ryley Gilliam. The five allowed just one run on one hit over the final 7 2/3 innings.
However, Clemson managed just four hits against Georgia pitching. It was the second week in a row the Bulldogs’ pitchers stymied the Tigers. Last week, Tigers’ batters struck out 13 times.
“Their pitching staff does a phenomenal job,” Lee said. “(Will) Proctor was really good. He had a really good curveball. He could locate his curveball and then they can give you so many different looks running (Tony) Locey out there, who throws 95 miles per hour and throws a lot of fastballs after Proctor throws a lot of curveballs.”
Clemson will start a three-game series at Wake Forest on Friday. First pitch in Game 1 is scheduled for 6 p.m.