Clemson fails to advance in the NCAA Tournament for a ninth straight year
OXFORD, Miss. — Clemson saw its season end for a ninth straight year in an NCAA Regional Sunday as No. 4 seed Jacksonville State beat the No. 3 seed Tigers 9-2 in the Oxford (Miss.) Regional at Swayze Field in Oxford.
This is the first time under head coach Monte Lee they did not make it to the championship round of a regional.
As for what happened in Sunday’s game, the Gamecocks eliminated the Tigers thanks to a gutty pitching performance from starter Dylan Hathcock and missed opportunities by Clemson.
“Gosh! It seemed like we had runners on base it seemed like every inning,” Lee said. “But they made big pitches and they made big plays when they needed to. We could not come up with the big hits with runners on base.”
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of third inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out on a walk by Grayson Byrd and back-to-back singles from Kyle Wilkie and Bryar Hawkins. But Hathcock got Sam Hall to line into a double play at third base to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Clemson got runners on first and second with one out on drawn walks from Jordan Greene and Bryce Teodosio. But again, a double play ended the inning. This time Hathcock induced Michael Green to hit into a double play at second.
The Tigers got runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth inning, but Hall flied out to left field to end the inning.
Clemson also loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning and failed to score any runs. The Tigers finished the game 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners stranded.
While Clemson continuously squandered its opportunities, Jacksonville State took advantage of its opportunities.
The Gamecocks (39-22) scored four runs in the top of the second off Tigers’ starter Brooks Crawford, including a three-run homer from Tre Kirklin. They also got an RBI single from Adam Nash in the inning.
They loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning and then manufactured two more runs to take a commanding 6-2 lead on Clemson. They extended it to 8-2 in the seventh inning by manufacturing two more runs.
“The second inning was a tough one,” Lee said. “We had two outs and the next thing you know we get to the lead-off guy and he ran one out of the yard. They threw up a crocked number up on us in the second.
“We responded in the bottom of the second to cut the score to 4-2, but we just could not hold them.”
The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second inning, when Kyle Wilkie took a 2-2 offering from Hathcock and sent it to right field where it carried over the fence for a solo home run. It was Wilkie’s sixth home run of the season.
Bryar Hawkins doubled off the wall following the Wilkie home run and later scored when Bryce Teodosio got a two-out single up the middle to make the score 4-2 at the end of two innings.
Clemson’s season comes to a disappointing end after Lee vowed to get things fixed following last year’s loss to Vanderbilt in the finals of the Clemson Regional.
The Tigers end the year at 35-26, the first time they did not reach 40 wins under Lee and failed to advance to the championship round of the Oxford Regional. Clemson also suffered an eight-game losing streak at one point this season and lost nine straight ACC games at point as well.