Tigers set ACC Tournament record with 17-run fourth inning
DURHAM, N.C. — When fourth-ranked Clemson began the fourth inning Wednesday in its first game of the 2018 ACC Baseball Championship, it was hoping to just tie the game.
Through the first three innings, 11th-seed Notre Dame outplayed the second seed Tigers. The Irish scored the game’s first three runs and had four hits to Clemson’s three. They had already run off starter Spencer Strider.
Notre Dame had all the mojo.
But baseball is a funny game and at some point something is going to happen that no one has seen before. The Clemson fourth turned out to be one of those moments.
In the 45-year history of the ACC Baseball Tournament, no team has scored more than 14 runs in an inning. Fifty-four minutes after the top of the fourth inning began Wednesday, Clemson shattered its own record as it rolled to a 21-4 victory.
The Tigers (44-13) scored 17 runs on 11 hits, while sending 21 batters to the plate. Chris Williams, Patrick Cromwell and Drew Wharton each went to the play three times in the deceive inning.
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen anything like that one inning,” Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki said afterward.
Seth Beer, who homered to right field and doubled in the inning, said he had never been a part of an inning like that either.
“The closest thing I can remember is when we probably did it against Florida State, basically, in the championship game (in 2016),” Beer said. “It was not as crazy as today, but that is the closest thing I can compare it to. We pulled a couple of six- or eight-run (innings) and then we had the long rain delay, it was like ‘my gosh!’ Honestly, that game felt like forever.
“However, it was not to this level. I have never been a part of something like that. It just seemed like everyone was zoned in and everyone wanted a crack at getting up at the plate. That is what I kind of felt like kept us going.”
Williams opened the inning with a walk and then Cromwell followed with a base hit to put both runners on second and third with no outs. Designated hitter Justin Hawkins, then flied out to centerfield to score Williams with the innings first run. At the time that made the score 3-2 in favor of Notre Dame, but the fun was just beginning.
A wild pitch allowed Cromwell to come home with the tying run and then Jordan Green singled to left a few moments later to plate two more runs for what turned out to be the game-winning runs.
Leading 5-3, Logan Davidson then drilled a two-run shot to right field and the rout was on. A few batters later Beer followed with a bomb to right and then Davidson came back around moments later in the inning and hit a grand slam from the other side of the plate.
The Davidson grand slam marked the first time a Clemson player hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning. Last week, against Pitt, Davidson became the first Clemson player to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game.
“I mean, I’ve definitely never done it in the same inning before that, so that was a pretty cool experience to even have the opportunity to get back up there,” Davidson said. “That was pretty awesome.”
Williams concluded the fireworks a few moments later with a three-run shot to left that hit the Durham Bull.
“I mean, it’s pretty cool to be able to do that because not a lot of people can say they actually hit the bull,” Williams said. “I mean it kind of sucks I don’t get a free steak out of it. I’m going to have to go up there and buy my own steak. We’ll pretend it’s a free steak. But it’s pretty cool to do that.”
Williams’ not getting his free steak was the only thing that did not go the Tigers’ way in the Clemson fourth.
“I have never experienced anything like that fourth inning,” Davidson said. “In high school, I have seen some innings similar to that, but never nothing like that, especially at the college level. To get 17 runs in one inning, in the ACC Tournament, that was pretty awesome.
“Obviously, there were a lot of home runs and a lot of doubles and everyone down the lineup was seeing it well. It is going to be fun to see if we can carry that over until tomorrow.”
Clemson will play Miami at 7 p.m. Thursday with the winner advancing to the semifinal round of the ACC Championships on Saturday.