Davis Sharpe looked impressive in his first start of the season on Saturday as defeated Liberty 1-0 in front of a friendly crowd in Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The game shaped up as a pitchers’ dual as each team finished with six hits and Clemson pitching stranded ten Liberty runners.
Sharpe recorded his first win of the season in five innings pitched as he allowed no runs and three hits with a walk and six strikeouts. And, freshman Nick Clayton recorded his first save as a Tiger in two innings of work allowing one hit, one walk and striking out two.
Sharpe entered the game with nerves but quickly found his stride.
“I went up there and had horrendous warmup pitches but got a first pitch strike and when I realized I had a feel it was game over,” Sharpe said. “When I have a feel for my pitches, I don’t think the best team in the country can hit me.”
Clemson (2-0) threatened in the bottom of the third with runners on first and second with two outs. Junior Kier Meredith belted a single up the middle, but freshman Dylan Brewer stumbled around third base and was tagged for the final out.
The Tigers struck first with the only run of the game on an RBI single off the bat of Meredith that scored Mac Starbuck and gave it a 1-0 lead after five innings.
Liberty’s pitcher Noah Skirrow hit Starbuck by a pitch with one out to give the Tigers life. Sophomore Elijah Henderson followed with his second base hit of the day and Meredith roped a single to right center that scored Starbuck from second base.
Keyshawn Askew entered the game on the mound for the Tigers in the top of the sixth and had to work himself out of a jam after he loaded the bases with two outs. But Askew struck out Ben Highfill to subdue the threat.
The Flames (0-2) pressed again in the top of the eighth after Brandon Rohrer reached on a catcher’s interference and Askew walked Wilkinson with no outs. Clemson called on freshman Nick Clayton to relieve Askew and he delivered with a pair of strikeouts and flyball to center to strand three Liberty runners.
Clayton finished out Liberty in the top of the ninth and recorded a save in his first outing as a Tiger. He closed out the game with two innings pitched, one hit, one walk and two strike outs.
Clemson head coach Monte Lee told the media after the game Saturday’s pitching performance was one of the best he’s seen as a coach.
“To win a 1-0 game and a series in the fashion we did, we won the last nine outs and competed at the end of the ball game,” Lee said. “I was in the dugout thinking we need to keep them to one run and we threw up a zero.”
Clemson returns to action on Sunday at 1 p.m. as Spencer Strider takes the mound and it aims to sweep Liberty on opening weekend.