Without Clark, Wilkie Clemson’s 17-run fourth may not have happened
DURHAM, N.C. — With all the talk regarding Clemson’s 17-run fourth inning in Wednesday’s ACC Tournament win over Notre Dame, and deservedly so, everyone forgot about what Mat Clark did in the bottom the third inning.
With fourth-ranked Clemson trailing the Irish 3-1 at the time, Clark came on in relief of starter Spencer Strider with no outs and one on base in the bottom of the third inning. The situation got worse when Seth Beer dropped what looked like an easy out in right field and Jordan Greene fumbled his toss to second on what could have been a potential double play.
So Clark stood there, at no fault of his own, with the bases loaded and no outs. What he did next played as big of role in Clemson’s 21-4 victory at Durham Bulls Athletic Park than anything else.
First Clark got Niko Kavadas to strike out swinging for the first out and then he induced Eric Gilgenbach into a double play at shortstop to end the inning.
“Mat Clark did a phenomenal job for us coming in out of the bullpen,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said, “had bases loaded, nobody out and got out of it. I thought he threw the ball very, very well.”
Clark’s big-time pitching allowed the Tigers (44-13) to keep the momentum from an earlier play which helped get them on the scoreboard.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first two innings, catcher Kyle Wilkie knocked a two-out single to centerfield to score Sam Hall for Clemson’s first run of the afternoon.
“I didn’t think that we let the score dictate how competitive we were with our at-bats and on the mound and defensively after that,” Lee said. “We continuously talk about playing every pitch of every ballgame, respecting the game and playing the game the right way, and I felt like we did a good job of playing a complete game today.
“But offensively we were very, very good.”
Clark pitched another inning and a third after the Tigers put up the 17-spot in the fourth inning to earn his fourth win of the year. He allowed three hits and one run in relief.
Wilkie got two more hits after his third inning RBI and finished the game 3-for-5 at the plate overall.
Clemson is scheduled to play Miami tonight at 7 p.m. The winner of the game will advance to the ACC Semifinals on Saturday.