Leaders stepping up at the right time

Leaders stepping up at the right time

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Leaders stepping up at the right time

Two key at-bats by Williams and Beer set up Wilkie’s game-winner

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Though Kyle Wilkie doubled down the right field line in the top of the eighth inning to score Seth Beer for what turned out to be the game-winning run Saturday in Game 2 at David Couch Field in Winston-Salem, N.C. It was Chris Williams’ sacrifice fly to deep left field two innings before that and Beer’s hustle to lead off the eighth are what led No. 13 Clemson to its 4-3 victory over Wake Forest.

With the Tigers (28-11, 13-7 ACC) trailing 3-2 with one out in the top of the sixth inning and Logan Davidson at third representing the tying run, Williams kept fighting off pitch after pitch from Wake starter Morgan McSweeney. In all, the senior fought off eight pitches before finally he got ahold of a fastball and sent it screaming to deep left field, where Wake’s Chris Lanzilli jumped up and made a great catch at the wall to rob Williams of the home run.

However, Williams did his job. The deep shot to left allowed Davidson to come home with the tying run, which set up Wilkie’s game-winning hit in the eighth.

“What a competitive at-bat,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said to The Clemson Insider after the game. “He just fouled pitches off, fouled pitches off and then hit a bullet to left for a sac fly. That was a huge run for us to tie the ballgame.”

It was a senior, and one of the team leaders, making a play when the Tigers needed him to the most. In the eighth inning, Clemson got another team leader to step up and make a clutch play. This time Beer got into the act.

The junior smacked a hard hit to right center field to lead off the inning, and when he noticed centerfielder D.J. Poteet was not going full speed to go get his ball, Beer turned the corner at first base and hustled to the bag at second with a double. It turned out to be a huge play in the game, especially after Williams and Grayson Byrd grounded out.

However, Beer was still in scoring position and was one hit away from scoring the go-ahead run.

“You give Seth credit for hitting the ball up the middle and then hustling out a double which puts us in scoring position,” Lee said.

A couple of batters later, Wilkie delivered with his two-out double to put the Tigers in front to stay, 4-3.

“The whole game, I kind of rolled over and pulled off the ball so my last at-bat, I told myself I was going to stay inside this one and just try and hit the inside part of the ball,” Wilkie said. “He threw a fastball on the first pitch and it was the only time I was able to hit it to right field.”

After losing four of five games heading into the three-game series with Wake Forest, the Tigers have come out and found ways to win Games 1 and 2. In both games, when they have needed them the most, they had leaders like Williams and Beer step up and put the team in position to win.

Sunday, they will try to do it one more time as the Tigers’ go for a rare sweep on the road. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

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