No. 20 Clemson struggled to move the bats throughout game one of a double header with third-ranked North Carolina on Saturday but rallied in the ninth to secure game one of the series.
The Tigers tallied just seven hits on the afternoon and struggled to get timely hits until the ninth. They fell 2-1 to the Tar Heels before scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run coming on a balk giving Clemson a 3-2 win.
Kier Meredith drove in the tying run with an RBI-single with one out before Elijah Henderson scored on a game-winning balk by Joey Lancellotti.
Freshman Davis Sharpe finished the day with six innings, just three hits, three walks and struck out seven but Jacob Hennessy secured with win with three innings, three hits, one run, a pair of walks and two strikeouts.
The Tar Heels took a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first with a two-out home run just over the fence in left from Ike Freeman. Sharpe left a pitch up in the zone in a 1-2 count and Freeman took it for what it was worth to give Carolina an early lead.
The pitchers battled in the middle innings with each surrendering just three hits in the first six innings and doing what they could to minimize the damage inflicted from walks.
Clemson’s (10-3, 1-0 ACC)had a shot at a run in the third when Kier Meredith notched a double to center with one out. Meredith reached third on a wild pitch with two outs putting the tying run 90 feet away before Sam Hall struck out looking to end the inning.
Sharpe worked out of a pair of jams in his stint, in the third Carolina (12-2, 0-1 ACC) loaded the bases after a Dylan Harris double and a couple walks with two outs. Sharpe battled back and forced Jackson Hesterlee to ground out to first in a two-two count and ended the top half.
Later in the sixth, the Tar Heels had another chance to extend their 1-0 lead after Caleb Roberts reached on a walk, advanced to second and then third on a wild pitch with one out. But, Jordan Greene delivered with a heads up play to gun down Roberts at the plate for the second out and Sharpe struck out Brandon Martorano to retire the side.
North Carolina added another run in the seventh when Jacob Hennessy entered in relief of Sharpe. A two-out, run-scoring single by Michael Bush brought Danny Serretti plateward and put the Tar Heels up 2-0.
Clemson pushed into a two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a Tar Heel error. Bryar Hawkins scored from third on an RBI for Jordan Greene, who reached on a fielding error by the third baseman for the Tigers’ only run of the day.
The Tigers had the tying run 90 feet away in the eighth and failed to convert. Logan Davidson led off with a double and advanced to third with two outs before Hawkins struck out to end the inning.
Clemson stormed back for the win in the bottom of the ninth with a pair of runs to secure the win. Green led off with a single and Chad Fairey drew a walk before Meredith brought Green in with an RBI single to tie the game at two. Both Meredith and Fairey advanced on an error by the center-fielder.
Then Elijah Henderson entered to run for Fairey and scored on a balk by Lancellotti to give Clemson a 3-2 win in game one of a doubleheader. Game two is scheduled to start at 5:10 pm.