March 10, 2017
By Michael Scholl
CLEMSON, South Carolina -- The No. 14 Clemson Tigers took advantage of their opportunities to take game one of a three-game set from the University of Notre Dame baseball team on Friday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Jake Johnson paced Notre Dame at the top of the order with two hits, a leadoff double and a leadoff single, but was unable to score both times. Kyle Fiala and Daniel Jung had the other two hits for Notre Dame. Brandon Bielak started for the Irish and battled, allowing three earned runs on three hits in five innings of work while striking out five. Cameron Brown, Sean
Andrew Cox delivered a pair of RBI singles for the hosts, while Chris Williams also drove in a run. Charlie Barnes kept the Irish off balance, as the southpaw gave up four hits and an unearned run in 6.1 innings. Jacob Hennessy threw 2.2 innings of perfect baseball to record the save.
The biggest play over the first three innings may have been a pickoff. After Bielak walked Logan Davidson to open the game, he picked off the Tiger leadoff hitter before striking out Reed Rohlman for the second out. After walking Seth Beer, Bielak got a groundout from Chase Pinder to avoid any damage despite the two walks.
The Irish got the first hit of the game in the fourth when Johnson drilled a double to the gap in left-center, past a diving Pinder. Fiala laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move Johnson to third but was followed by a strikeout of Nick Podkul. Matt Vierling drew a five-pitch walk before Jake Shepski grounded out to end the threat.
After Notre Dame couldn't strike first in the fourth, Clemson did. Pinder was drilled by a pitch from Bielak to start the inning, then Chris Williams hit a roller just inside the bag at third that went all the way into the corner for a double to score Pinder. Cox followed with a bloop single to right, scoring Williams. Bielak struck out a pair before inducing a ground out to keep it at 2-0 after four innings.
Johnson sparked the Irish again, leading off the sixth with a double to the opposite field in left. Fiala followed with an infield single, beating out a slow roller to the shortstop with the hit-and-run on. With Podkul up, the Irish tried to hit-and-run again. Podkul had to swing at a ball outside the zone and Willams threw out Johnson at third on swipe tag that the Irish dugout believed missed the runner. Notre Dame was able to get a run across, however, as a passed ball moved Fiala up to third before Podkul struck out, then with Vierling up a Barnes uncorked a wild pitch to allow Fiala to score. Vierling walked and moved up to second on another wild pitch, but Shepski flew out to end the threat and keep the score at 2-1, Clemson.
The Tigers got the run back in the bottom half of the inning. Bielak issued a walk before giving way to Cameron Brown with a 2-0 count on Weston Jackson. Brown completed the walk of Jackson, which was credited to Bielak before Grayson Byrd bunted the runners up to second and third. Mik Aoki brought his infield in and the move paid off, with Patrick Cromwell hitting a chopper to Jung at first, who threw Cox out at the plate. With two outs, the Tigers started both runners and the Irish sniffed it out, with Lidge's throw to second cut off by the second baseman, Podkul, but the throw home went to the backstop, allowing the run to score. Davidson then grounded out to end the frame, letting the Tigers extend the lead to 3-1 without a hit.
The Tigers tacked on another after the stretch, taking advantage of a pair of walks to start the innings. After Rohlman and Beer drew the free passes and were sacrificed to third, Williams hit a hard chopper to Fiala at third, who threw Rohlman out at the plate. Andrew Cox came through with two outs, drilling a single up the middle to score
Game two of the series is set for 4 p.m. ET on Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The game can be seen live on ACC Network Extra (via WatchESPN) and heard live on WatchND and 103.1 FM.
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College,