Virginia scored five of its six runs Sunday with two outs, as the Cavaliers rallied to beat Clemson, 6-5, at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
The win, coupled with Saturday’s Game 2 victory, allowed the Cavaliers to take the three-game series, ending the Tigers’ consecutive series win streak in ACC play at three.
The big two-out blow for Clemson (15-13, 9-9 ACC) came in the top of the seventh inning when Virginia scored three unearned runs off pitcher Geoffrey Gilbert. For the second week in a row, Gilbert was charged with a loss.
“I am pretty frustrated about today’s game because I did not think I did a good enough job of preparing our team today in getting our guys ready to compete today to win this series,” Lee said. “We start the game off with great energy and then they punch us in the face with the home run and we lose that energy.
“We have to find a way to get that momentum back in our dugout and we have to tack on runs and score runs when we get opportunities to do it. That is the bottom line. That is coaching. That is poor coaching on my part. We are leaving runs out there. We have to be better fundamentally.”
First Brendan Rivoli singled to left field with two outs to score Zack Gelof, tying the game at 4-4. Then after the Cavaliers loaded the bases with a walk and a hit, Kyle Teel brought home two more runs with a base hit to left center field, giving Virginia a 6-4 lead.
Teel also had a two-run home run in the fourth inning with two outs off Clemson starter Nick Hoffman. At the time, that tied the game at 2-2. Teel finished the day with four RBIs.
Virginia finished the afternoon 8-for-17 with two outs. Clemson was 2-for-11 with two outs.
“We have to finish,” Lee said. “You look at yesterday’s game and you look at today’s game, we lose this series because (Virginia) was better in the second half of the game than we were. The same thing happened (last) Sunday at NC State. And that is in all phases. That is pitching and defense. That is on offense.
“Most importantly, we cannot ride the wave of success early in the ball game and then lose it when something does not go our way. We have to keep competing and we have to finish games competitively, as a whole unit, better. Coaches, too. We have to do a better job of managing and helping our guys be successful in the second half of the game.”
James Parker hit a double to the gap in left center field which allowed Dylan Brewer to come all the way home from first base in the first inning to get the Tigers on the board. The Parker double gave Clemson a 1-0 lead. Brewer drew a one-out walk to set up Parker for the RBI.
Elijah Henderson was awarded a single and an RBI in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, he hit a ball deep into the hole on the left side of the infield, but Virginia shortstop Nic Kent threw the baseball into right field while trying to get a runner out at second base, which allowed Bryar Hawkins to score from third base. That gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead on the Cavaliers.
Virginia (16-15, 8-13 ACC) tied the game with one pitch when Teel took a two-out pitch from starter Nick Hoffman down the left field, which stayed fair. The home run also scored Devin Ortiz, who doubled down the left field line with one out earlier in the inning.
The Cavaliers grabbed their first lead in the top of the fifth inning when Kent singled through the left side to score Chris Newell with one out, making it a 3-2 game at the time. The run was charged to Hoffman, but the hit came off Gilbert’s arm.
Clemson quickly grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the fifth when Caden Grice, who led the Tigers with two hits, singled through the left side with one out to score Keir Meredith. Adam Hackenberg doubled with two outs to the left center field gap a few moments later to bring Brewer home for a 4-3 lead.
Brewer also had two hits to help lead Clemson at the plate.
The Tigers picked up a run in the bottom of the eighth inning but it was not enough, as they have now lost three of their last four games.
“We need to close out innings. Bottom line. We need to close out innings,” Lee said. “The two-strike hit, the two-hit, we have to finish hitters off. We have to close out inning. That is on the pitching staff. That is on defense.
“On offense, we have to put together better at-bats the second, third and fourth time through the order. We have to finish better than we start. That is the bottom line.”
Clemson gets back on the field Tuesday when it hosts the College of Charleston at 6 p.m.
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