Parker's hit in the 10th gives Clemson third straight win to open the season
James Parker produced a game-winning hit to score Dylan Brewer with the walk-off run in the bottom of the 10th inning, as No. 25 Clemson completed a three-game weekend sweep of Cincinnati with an 8-7 victory Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
“It was an exciting way to end opening weekend, winning in extra innings,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “I am very proud of our ballclub.”
With the game tied at 7-7, Brewer led off the Tigers’ 10th with a single to rightfield, which Bryar Hawkins followed with a base hit to left. After a wild pitch moved both runners up, Parker hit the game winner to left-centerfield inning, allowing the Tigers to complete the sweep.
“Something we really talked about in the off-season is that we are not a team that is going to play off the scoreboard,” Parker said afterwards. “We are going to play to us and that is including close games. We are not going to look at the scoreboard and by like, ‘Oh, it is a close game.’
“We are going to play our game regardless. Regardless, if we are losing by ten (runs) or winning by ten. We are not going to pay attention to that scoreboard.”
Parker finished the day 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs.
“We had good spirits,” Parker said about the Tigers’ approach to the final inning. “There were a couple of plays that did not go our way, but we put those behind us, and we came out there and were able to put some bats together and we were able to pull out a (win).”
The Tigers (3-0) got two home runs in the bottom of the first inning from Brewer and Parker, both two-run shots. Catcher Jonathan French added the third when he hit his second home run of the series—this time a solo blast to leftfield—as Clemson stayed in front of the Bearcats all afternoon to get the win.
French and Brewer had two hits as well to lead the Tigers, who finished the game with 11 hits overall. Brewer finished the afternoon with two RBIs. He and French were both 2-for-4 at the plate.
Clemson came out on fire Sunday. The Tigers got three hits, including two home runs to a grab a quick 4-0 lead on Cincinnati.
Brewer homered to left centerfield for a two-run shot following a Blake Wright single to open the game. After Bryar Hawkins was hit by a pitch, Parker hit a bomb off the foul pole in left field for Clemson’s second two-run blast of the inning. All of it coming with no outs.
But the Bearcats slowly clawed back in the game. They picked up two runs on two hits in the top of the second inning, including an RBI single from Jake Murray.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tigers upped their lead back to four runs, 6-2. French led off the inning by blasting a ball off the Chapman Grandstands in left field, while Pierce Gallo singled up the middle with one out to score Sharpe.
Cincinnati (0-3) cut the lead to one run, 6-5, by putting up a three spot in the fifth inning thanks to three hits and one Clemson error. With one out, Joey Bellini hit safely to left field to drive in a run and with two outs, Griffin Merritt had a two-out hit to right that plated two more Bearcats.
But, again, the Tigers had an answer. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Sharpe doubled down the line leftfield to bring home Brewer, who led off the inning with a walk. That gave Clemson a 7-5 lead at the time.
But Cincinnati would not go away. They picked up two runs on three hits to tie the game, and eventually force extra innings, in the top of the eighth. They rallied with a fielder’s choice RBI from Paul Komistek and then a two-out single to center by Eric Santiago to score Cole Harting to tie the game at 7-7.
Nick Hoffman came in relief of Mack Anglin with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to earn the victory. He first retired the side in the eighth, and then pitched two more scoreless innings without allowing a hit or a base runner.
Clemson will be back in action next Friday when it hosts Game 1 of its three-game series with rival South Carolina.
—Photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics Communications
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