Tigers rally past Georgia

Richie Shaffer capped a seven-run sixth inning with a grand slam in No. 16 Clemson's 11-5 win over Georgia at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Tuesday night.

Clemson 11 Georgia 5

The Tigers improved to 14-9 overall, while the Bulldogs fell to 11-14. The win was Jack Leggett's 1,160th in his career, which moved him into a tie for 18th place (with Jack Coffey) on the all-time wins list by a head coach at a Division I school.

Georgia jumped out to a 4-1 lead through four innings. After Chris Epps hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, Clemson took advantage of five walks and Shaffer's grand slam to score seven runs in the sixth inning.

Kevin Pohle (3-1), the fourth of seven Tiger pitchers, earned the win by retiring the only batter he faced in the sixth inning. Will Lamb entered the game in relief of starter Justin Sarratt and struck out a career-high six batters in 3.1 innings pitched. The six Clemson relievers combined to allow six hits, two runs, and four walks with 10 strikeouts in 7.0 innings pitched, while the seven pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts in the game.

Patrick Boling (0-2), the fourth of seven Georgia hurlers, suffered the loss. He walked all four batters he faced, which all came around to score in the sixth inning.

The Bulldogs wasted little time taking the game's first lead in the first inning. Levi Hyams led off with a walk and went to third on Conor Welton's double to right field. Two batters later, Zach Cone laced a one-out single through the left side to score Hyams. Later in the inning with two outs, Welton scored from third when Sarratt's throw to first base was errant on a failed pickoff attempt.

In the top of the second inning, Brandon Stephens led off with a double to left-center and moved to third on Peter Verdin's two-strike sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Welton ripped a two-out single through the left side to plate Stephens.

Clemson responded with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Shaffer led off with a single up the middle and Brad Miller walked after being down in the count 0-2. Spencer Kieboom reached on an infield single to first when the pitcher failed to cover the bag to load the bases with no outs, then Epps lofted a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Shaffer and advance Miller to third. But Jason Stolz grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to keep Georgia ahead 3-1.

The Bulldogs manufactured another run in the fourth inning. Hyams drew a one-out walk, moved to second base on Welton's groundout, and scored on Kyle Farmer's two-out single to right-center.

Epps led off the fifth inning with a long solo homer to right field, his fifth long ball of the season. In the sixth inning, the Tigers took a five-run lead with seven runs on only two hits. Clemson capitalized on five walks and one hit-by-pitch by Georgia pitchers. Brad Miller, Kieboom, and Epps led off the inning with walks to load the bases with no outs. Stolz drew another walk to score Miller, then Jon McGibbon hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Kieboom and tie the score. John Hinson reached on a fielder's choice as Stolz was retired at second base on a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder that was fumbled by Hyams. Jeff Schaus walked to load the bases, then Phil Pohl was hit by a 1-2 pitch to score Epps and give the Tigers the lead. Shaffer then blasted a grand slam to left-center, his fourth long ball of the year. It was Shaffer's first career grand slam and the second by the Tigers in 2011. Shaffer scored the seventh run of the inning on Clemson's first hit of the frame.

In the seventh inning, Cone led off with a line-drive double down the left-field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Kevin Ruiz grounded out to third to score Cone.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Epps led off with a walk and went to second on Stolz's single to center. After both runners moved up a base on McGibbon's sacrifice bunt, Hinson lined a sacrifice fly to right-center to score Epps.

The Tigers added an insurance run in the eighth inning. Shaffer walked with one out and stole second. Two batters later, Kieboom blooped a two-out single down the right-field line to score Shaffer.

Shaffer went 2-for-4 with a grand slam, three runs, a walk, and stolen base to lead Clemson, who totaled 11 hits, 10 walks, and a hit-by-pitch against only two strikeouts. Hinson went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, Kieboom went 2-for-4 with an RBI and walk, and Epps went 2-for-2 with a homer, two RBIs, three runs, and two walks.

Welton, Cone, and Ruiz all had two hits and one RBI apiece for Georgia, who totaled 11 hits in the contest.

Clemson will travel to Chapel Hill to take on No. 6 North Carolina in a three-game series starting Friday at 7:00 PM.

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