Clemson got two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on an RBI single from Elijah Henderson and Sam Hall scored on a wild pitch and then an error as the Tigers topped Liberty 5-3 Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
The win marked the Tigers’ third straight victory to start a season, as head coach Monte Lee improved to 3-2 in season openers.
On the mound, starter Sam Weatherly gave up just one run on two hits in four innings of work, but he did allow six walks. However, he bounced back by striking out eight batters. The Tigers had 14 strikeouts overall.
Geoffrey Gilbert earned the win on the mound, giving up just one hit in two innings of work. He walked three batters and had two strikeouts in relief of Weatherly.
In all, Clemson pitching gave up 11 walks. The defense was not much better as the Tigers committed four errors. Liberty stranded 17 base runners.
“There were too many (walks) when you look at the box score,” Lee said afterward. “You have to give Liberty a lot of credit. They were very patient on offense. When they fell behind, they took pitches and tried to drive the pitch counts up, which they certainly did.
“They put together some tough at-bats against Weatherly.”
Carson Spiers came on in the seventh inning and got the final nine outs to earn the save for Clemson.
After Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, the Tigers answered with a run of their own when Hall homered to left centerfield on an 0-1 count with two outs.
Clemson took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when catcher Adam Hackenberg singled to left field to bring Kier Meredith home. Hackenberg’s RBI came with two outs, as well.
“He called a heck of a game and had some good at-bats,” Lee said about his catcher.
The Tigers finished the game with 10 hits.
“Offensively, I think we did an outstanding job,” Lee said. “You look, we had seven walks and only five strikeouts. Certainly, a better job of competing with two strikes.”
Hall then scored for the second time in the game when he advanced to third on a wild pitch from Liberty pitcher Garrett Price and then scored when catcher Brad Gulakowski threw the ball into left field. That gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead at the time.
Before Spiers came in, Liberty added a run to close the gap to 4-2, but Clemson picked up an insurance run with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single up the middle from James Parker to score Mac Starbuck from third. Starbuck singled to left field to get things started in the inning.
Henderson had two hits to go with his RBI, while Hackenberg had two hits and drove in a run as well.
The Tigers and Flames will play Game 2 of their three-game series at 1 p.m. on Saturday.