It was obvious it was not going to be Clemson’s night from the outset Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
In Game 1 of their three-game series with Austin Peay, Tigers’ starter Jacob Hennessy gave up four runs and six hits in the first two innings. It was all the Governors needed in downing No. 5 Clemson, 6-3.
Friday marked just the second time in the last 13 games Clemson has come up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
The Governors (30-20) took a 4-0 lead in the first two innings thanks to two home runs and two RBI singles.
“If you do not get a start it makes it tough,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said afterward. “You have to stretch guys out of the pen. You go to the pen early. If you can’t get into the fifth inning with your starter, you are looking at having to use at least two relievers.”
The Tigers actually used four on Friday. However, they did get 4 2/3 scoreless innings from Ryan Miller, who came on in the fourth inning for Hennessy and allowed just one hit during his time on the mound.
“We felt like in the fourth that we needed to bring him in to stop the bleeding and to give us a chance, and he did,” Lee said. “It was a two-run game until the top of the ninth when their guy (Parker Phillips) hit the ball as far as I have ever seen anyone hit the ball here. He smashed it.
“But, I thought our pen did a great job. You can’t ask your pen to come into the ballgame early and expect to win time and time again.”
Clemson finished the game with 12 hits, but it left 10 bases runners stranded. Seth Beer, again, had two hits in four at-bats, including a two-run home run in the third inning. It was the fourth straight game he hit a home run.
Kyle Wilkie continued his hit streak, now at 16 straight games, with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
Garrett Kueber singled up the middle in the top of the first to bring Garrett Giovannelli home for the game’s first run. Giovannelli led off the game with a base hit to left field, one of six hits in the first two innings for Austin Peay.
Kueber later scored to make it a 2-0 game when Kyle Wilson brought him home with a two-out hit through the left side.
In the top of the second inning, Bobby Head led things off with a home run down the left field line off Clemson starter Jacob Hennessy. Two batters later Giovannelli did the same to make the score 4-0 after two innings.
“That’s just baseball,” Beer said. “I’m not going to put anybody under the gun there. I would just tell you that the biggest thing is those guys came out guns blazing.
“They pitched well and they can swing the bats. They have a really good club. That is just one of those things were sometimes things happen. Home runs happen from some guys you don’t expect. That is the best part about baseball and that is the worst part about baseball.”
Beer finally got Clemson on the scoreboard in the third inning when he sent a bomb to deep right field and over the Cajun Café.
Beer’s home run was a two-run shot, his team-leading 16th of the season. The junior came in tied for 15th nationally in home runs.
With one out, Logan Davidson laid down a bunt single down the third base side. Beer then followed on a 2-0 count by sending Michael Costanzo’s offering over the Cajun Café in right field for the two-run home run.
After three innings, the Tigers trailed, 4-2.
Clemson freshman Sam Hall came up big in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Tigers (37-13) answered an Austin Peay run in the top of the fourth with a clutch two-out hit from Hall in the bottom frame. Following a double by Jordan Greene to keep the inning alive, Hall forced a full count from Austin Peay starter Costanzo.
On the 3-2 delivery, Hall singled to center field, allowing Greene to come home for Clemson’s third run of the game. However, the inning ended when Hall made a base running error on the throw and was thrown out easily at second base.
Clemson trailed 5-3 after four innings of play.
The two teams will play again Saturday at 4 p.m., in Game 2 of the three-game series.