Clemson likely has to make a run in ACC Tournament to make postseason
Though Clemson desperately needed to win Friday’s game against Duke, it just was not meant to be. In fact, it was never even close.
The Blue Devils scored 13 runs in the first four innings as they rolled to a 14-8 victory over the Tigers at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
The loss was a major setback to Clemson’s postseason hopes. The Tigers came into the three-game series needing to win it, but coupled with Thursday’s loss in Game 1 and then what happened on Friday, they are likely to miss the NCAA Tournament baring a run in next week’s ACC Tournament.
The Tigers have lost seven of their last nine games.
“I think we all know. We are going to have to go to the ACC Tournament and we are going to have play well in the ACC Tournament,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said. “I think we need to win tomorrow and I think we need to go into the ACC Tournament and play well and see where that takes us.”
Clemson (24-25, 16-19 ACC) has not missed the NCAA Tournament since 2008 and has earned an NCAA bid in 33 of the last 34 seasons. The Tigers are just one of four teams to at least make an NCAA Tournament appearance for 11 straight seasons.
Duke (27-20, 15-17 ACC) scored nine of its 14 runs with two outs, highlighted by three-run homers from Chris Crabtree and RJ Schreck.
The Blue Devils ran Clemson starter Keyshawn Askew off in the second inning with two outs. He gave up five runs on four hits.
Davis Sharpe did not fair much better. The righty gave up three runs on three hits in a third of an inning, including a bomb to Crabtree that gave Duke an 11-1 lead in the second inning.
Sharpe was pulled after the inning was completed. However, Carter Raffield gave up three runs and Landon Lucas gave up two.
“It has nothing to do with energy,” Lee said. “Energy does not have anything to do with executing pitches on two strike counts. If you look at the first inning when we gave up the big inning and you look at the second inning when we gave up the big inning, look at how many extra base hits and hits we were giving up with two-strike counts.
“A lot of it had to do with the fact that we did not execute pitches with two-strike counts. It did not have anything to do with energy. The dugout had plenty of energy today. It is difficult to have energy when you are down as many runs as we were early.”
The Tigers tried to rally as Brice Teodosio tripled to right center to score Sharpe in the second inning. Dylan Brewer had a two-run home run to right field in the fourth inning and Jonathan French drove in a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 13-4 game.
The with two outs in the sixth, Bryar Hawkins blasted a grand slam to left center field to cut the Duke advantage to 13-8.
“Our guys did fight tonight,” Lee said. “If you break the game up from really the fourth inning on, we did a pretty good job. We scored seven runs from the fourth inning on and only gave up one run. For six innings tonight we played pretty good baseball. Unfortunately, we just did not execute pitches. That is the best that I can say it.”
The Blue Devils will attempt to complete a sweep of the Tigers on Saturday in Game 3. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
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