Georgia outlasts Tigers in 20-inning marathon

Georgia outlasts Tigers in 20-inning marathon

Baseball

Georgia outlasts Tigers in 20-inning marathon

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ATHENS, Ga. — Clemson and Georgia did not intend to play a doubleheader Tuesday at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., but that is exactly what happened.

The longest game of the Clemson-Georgia series, which began in 1900, finally ended at 1:35 Wednesday morning, 6 hours and 33 minutes after it began on Tuesday evening. It was the 236th meeting between the two rivals.

In the end, Georgia’s Connor Tate drove in Tucker Maxwell with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 20th to end the marathon game for a 3-2 victory. It was the longest baseball game in both Clemson’s and Georgia’s history.

“What a crazy game,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said afterward. “Both pitching staffs were outstanding. “Our pitching staff did an unbelievable job tonight.”

The two teams combined to use 14 pitchers in the pitching duel, which saw both pitching staffs strikeout a combined 50 batters in the contest, one from tying an NCAA record.

The length of the game overshadowed a great pitching performance from Clemson starter Jacob Hennessy. For the second week in a row the junior was dominant on the mound for the Tigers.

Hennessy allowed just two hits in five innings of scoreless baseball before being pulled for reliever Owen Griffith.

Lee said after the game they had Hennessy on a pitch count because the plan is to use him in this weekend’s series against Duke.

Like against the Paladins, the lefty was in control the entire time on the mound. After giving up two hits with one out in the bottom of the second inning, he retired the last 11 batters he faced.

Hennessy threw just 62 pitches, while striking out four batters with one walk.

In his last two appearances, the Moore, S.C., native has combined to pitch 11.1 innings, has allowed no runs, just four hits, stuck out seven and has just one walk. He has thrown a combined 139 pitches in the two games.

Sixteenth-ranked Clemson (25-12) took the lead and broke a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth inning.

With two outs, Kyle Wilkie singled to centerfield off Bulldogs’ starter Tim Elliott. The two-out hit brought home Sam Hall to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Hall opened the inning with a base hit to right field thanks to fourth-ranked Georgia (30-8) setting up the shift to the left side.

The Tigers extended the lead to 2-0 on the very next pitch, as Bryar Hawkins crushed a ball off the wall in centerfield to score Wilkie. Hawkins slid into third base with a triple, his first of the season.

Clemson eventually ran off Elliott, who did not allow a run and gave up just three hits in 7 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball back on April 2. He gave up five hits in 5 2/3 innings of work on Tuesday.

The Tigers remained in control of the game until the bottom of the seventh inning when Cam Shepherd came up to the plate.

The Georgia shortstop doubled down the left field line off of Weatherly. The play should have ended there, but for some reason Henderson lost control of the baseball and threw it into the ground, allowing Minter to score and Shepard to come all the way home with the tying run.

“Defensively, we played well,” Lee said. “Obviously, we had the one big error that led to two runs on the ball that was hit down the line. That cost us.”

Closer Carson Spiers came on in the eighth inning and kept the Bulldogs at bay. The righty allowed just one hit in four complete innings with no runs, no walks and six strikeouts.

Spiers gave way to Holt Jones in the bottom of the 12th inning. With runners on first and second with one out in the 13th inning for Georgia, Jones got Riley King to strikeout and then took a shot of the gut on a Logan Moody line drive to the mound. He ran and picked up the ball a scooped it to Hawkins at first base to end the inning.

Jones got two strikeouts, the last with the runner on second, to end the 14th inning.

Luke Sommerfield suffered the loss. However, he pitched the final 4.2 innings, giving just the one run on five hits. He struck out five ad walked four.

However, he got big strikeouts in the 18th and 19th innings to keep the Tigers in the game.

“Our pitching staff gave us a chance,” Lee said, who coached in a 22-inning game at the College of Charleston back in 2014.

Clemson had an opportunity to pick up a run or two in the eighth inning, but it was unable to push across a run.

Jordan Greene got a pinch-hit double off the wall in left field with one out, but Hall flew out to center and then with two outs, after a Logan Davidson intentional walk, Byrd lined out to right field to end the threat.

The Tigers opened the top of the eighth with a Byrd hit, his third of the game, while Wilkie drew a walk to put two on with no outs. However, Hawkins struck out, Davis Sharpe hit into a fielder’s choice at short and then Bo Majkowski struck out swinging to end the inning.

Wilkie led off the 10th inning with a lead-off walk and moved to second on a wild pitch to Majkowski with two outs. But Majkowski grounded out to first to end the Clemson inning again with a runner in scoring position.

Logan Davidson got to second on a lead-off walk in the 12th and moved to second with a stolen base, but Hawkins grounded to first to end another inning with a runner on second.

In the top of the 14th, Clemson got the lead-off runner on for the sixth time in seven innings and after Hall stole second base, Byrd struck out swinging and Wilkie hit into a grounder to second to leave Hall stranded.

Majkowski doubled with one out in the 18th inning and moved to third on a Teodosio sacrifice, bunt. But Greene left him at third by striking out swinging at a 2-2 pitch.

Clemson got Hawkins to third base after Majkowski doubled down the left field line with two outs in the top of the 20th inning. But pinch-hitter Matt Cooper struck out to the inning.

The Tigers were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

“We did not do a good enough job of being able to move runners up,” Lee said. “We had the lead off guy on base several times later in the ball game and could not come up with a big hit with runners on base.”

Clemson returns to Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Friday for a 6 p.m. first pitch against ACC foe Duke.

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