Following a loss on Friday night, No. 12 Clemson bounced back to beat Notre Dame, 5-1, on Saturday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers improved to 14-4 (4-1 ACC) with the victory, while the Fighting Irish fell to 7-10 (3-2).
Sophomore lefthander Mat Clark (4-0) pitched seven scoreless innings to earn the win, allowing just three hits and no walks while striking out seven. The Hilton Head Island, S.C., native retired the side in order in five different innings, recorded 12 consecutive outs at one point and lowered his ERA on the season 1.64.
Junior lefty Cameron Brown (0-2) took the loss for Notre Dame as he yielded five earned runs on nine hits in seven innings of work, striking out six and walking two batters.
“Mat Clark did a phenomenal job today,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “He threw about as good of a ball game as he could throw. So, very proud of Mat today.”
Kyle Wilkie paced Clemson’s offense with three hits in four at-bats and scored a run, while Sam Hall went 2-for-4 with a double. Davis Sharpe and Bryce Teodosio each logged one hit with one RBI and one run scored.
Notre Dame appeared to score first in the top of the second inning when a single by Brooks Coetzee allowed Niko Kavadas, who singled and then advanced to second on a groundout, to come home. Kavadas slid in and was initially ruled safe on a play at the plate after a throw home by Clemson right fielder Bo Majkowski, but Kavadas was ruled out upon replay review to end the frame.
The Tigers then struck first in the bottom of the second inning, scoring four runs on three hits to take a 4-0 lead. Wilkie singled to right-center field to get the frame started, then advanced to second on a fielder’s choice before reaching third on a throwing error by Notre Dame catcher Jack Alexander. Sharpe then hit a single to right field to score Wilkie, and Teodosio followed with a double to left-center to drive in Bryar Hawkins.
After a walk by Kier Meredith loaded the bases with one out, Hall struck out but Sharpe scored on wild pitch. Teodosio later crossed home plate on a double steal and failed pickoff attempt to give the Tigers a 4-0 advantage.
Meredith provided one of the game’s highlights in the top of the fourth inning with a spectacular play that kept Notre Dame off the scoreboard. The sophomore outfielder made a leaping grab over the left-field wall to rob Eric Gilgenbach of what would have been a solo home run.
Unfortunately, Meredith was forced to exit the game in the top of the eighth after racing toward a ball in foul territory and pulling up lame. He walked off the field gingerly and was replaced by Elijah Henderson.
“I don’t know yet,” Lee said of Meredith’s injury. “We’ll have to see once we get him in the training room. Obviously he hurt himself, so we had to make the change. We’ll have to get him checked out by the doctor and see where he’s at.”
The Tigers tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Majkowksi singled with one out and Hall singled with two outs before a bloop double by Logan Davidson plated Majkowski.
Notre Dame loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth inning, but came away with just one run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jack Zyska that made the score 5-1. With runners on second and third and two outs, Davidson ranged to his right from the shortstop position and fired a strong throw to first base to end the scoring threat.
The Irish put runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the ninth before Holt Jones retired the final three batters he faced to end the game. The sophomore righthander pitched the final 1.1 innings to record his second save of the season.
Clemson finished with five runs on nine hits and one error, while Notre Dame scored its lone run on six hits and made an error as well.
“It was good to even the series and take some momentum into tomorrow,” Lee said.
The rubber match of the three-game series between the Tigers and Irish is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.