The Clemson Insider looks back at Clemson’s 8-4 win over Illinois in the opening round of the Oxford Regional on Friday afternoon at Swayze Field.
The Tigers (35-24) struck first as Logan Davidson hit a one-out double and came in to score on a two-out single by Kyle Wilkie. The Fighting Illini (36-20) answered immediately in the bottom of the inning as a leadoff double came in to score and tie the game at 1-1. Illinois would take a 2-1 lead in the second, but Clemson answered right back in the third. Michael Green led off the inning with a solo homer to tie the game followed by a Davidson HBP and a two-run homer off the bat of Grayson Byrd to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead. The Illini would plate another single run in the bottom of the frame to pull within 4-3 but would get no closer. Clemson added three runs in the seventh on a two-RBI single by Wilkie and a RBI fielder’s choice by Jordan Greene to extend the lead to 7-3. The Tigers would get another insurance run in the eighth on a RBI single by Byrd for an 8-3 lead. Illinois would get a run back in the ninth to cut it to 8-4 but Clemson held on to win their opening NCAA Regional game for the fourth consecutive season.
The biggest moment in the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Tigers were clinging to a 4-3 lead and the Illini loaded the bases with only one out. Greene made a backhand play on a ball up the middle and flipped the ball to Davidson to start a double play to get out of the jam and keep the Clemson lead.
What went right?
While the offense had a strong showing, the story of the game was Davis Sharpe on the mound. Making his first career relief appearance, Sharpe earned his seventh win of the season by tossing the final 6.2 innings of the game while allowing a single unearned run on just three hits. Meanwhile on offense, Wilkie had a career-high four hits with three RBI while Byrd had three hits and three RBI. Overall, the Tigers tallied 12 hits in the contest as the top four in the order went 10-for-17 to lead the charge. Clemson made several nice plays defensively as well while not committing an error in the field.
What went wrong?
Jacob Hennessy had a tough start, allowing three runs on six hits in just 2.1 innings which caused the Tigers to head to the bullpen early. Offensively, Clemson hit into three double plays and left 11 men stranded on the day.