Clemson bounces back from loss to Gamecocks to sweep No. 3 UNC
This time last week, the 20th-ranked Clemson Tigers were trying to figure out what truck ran over them in Columbia.
The Tigers were humiliated by rival South Carolina in Game 3 of their series as the Gamecocks pounded out 17 hits in a 14-3 victory, ending Clemson’s four-year stranglehold in the rivalry.
It would have been easy for the Tigers to hang their heads and feel sorry for themselves after losing the season series to their most hated rival. But they did not.
Instead, they took out their frustration on No. 3 North Carolina this weekend, sweeping their three-game series against the Tar Heels, including Sunday’s dramatic walk-off victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
Shortstop Logan Davidson hit a two-run blast off Tar Heel closer Austin Love in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Tigers to a 5-4 win. Clemson swept a doubleheader on Saturday, winning Game 1 with a walk-off thanks to a balk by UNC pitching and then a 17-3 smashing of the Tar Heels in Game 2.
“I don’t think we did anything differently. We did the same thing we always do. I think we are getting after it in practice, we are trusting each other in the field,” Davidson said after the game. “That is really all it came down to.
“We got a lot of timely hits. We kind of felt that way in the dugout.”
Sunday’s win allowed Clemson (12-3, 3-0 ACC) to sweep the Tar Heels for the first in 22 years, which coincidently they did with a walk-off home run for a 5-4 victory in Game 3 in Clemson back in 1997. Eric DeMore hit the walk-off home run that year for the Tigers.
“Honestly, from the inside, we knew we had what it takes to beat this team,” Davidson said. “They are a really good team. They are number three in the country or something like that. Obviously, they play really good baseball and they play really good baseball often.
“We knew we were going to have to bring it to the field every day.”
The Tigers (12-3, 3-0 ACC) brought in the last two innings. After falling behind 4-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Clemson picked up a run in the bottom frame and then Sam Hall and Davidson did their thing with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.
Hall got a two-out double to keep the rally alive, and then on a 2-2 offering from Love, Davidson rocketed the baseball to right field where it cleared the Cajun Café. Love and everyone in the stadium knew it was gone as soon as it hit off Davidson’s bat.
“In that case, you are trying get a base hit to get him in,” Davidson said. “Once I got two strikes, I knew something off-speed was coming because I had been facing a lot of backwards pitching this weekend, so I was just trying to shoot something the other way.
“They were playing the shift on me. So that kind of shortstop area was open. So, if you shoot something through that gap at short, you can bring Sam home.”
Davidson did that exact thing back in the fifth inning when he doubled to left centerfield to bring Hall all the way home from first base. This time Hall was on second base and a base hit of any kind would bring the outfielder home with the tying run.
“That was the approach,” Davidson said. “He kind of left it in. I just kept my head on it. I ended up pulling it. I did not really mean to, but I ended up pulling it for a homer.”
Davidson finished his afternoon 2-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs. The home run was Davidson’s fifth of the season and he now has 17 RBIs on the year.
“It is not about the hits,” he said. “It is about the team. Make it team at-bats and do what you can to help the team win and ultimately that is going to work for you and that is all you really need to do.”