Tigers take game one over Terps

Richie Shaffer's two-out, two-run triple in the ninth inning gave Clemson a 5-3 lead and the Tigers held on for a 5-4 victory over Maryland in front of 878 fans at Bob Smith Stadium on Friday night.

The Tigers, who took a 1-0 series lead, improved to 22-17 overall and 10-9 in the ACC. The Terrapins dropped to 25-15 overall and 7-12 in ACC play.

The Tigers scored one run in the third inning and two runs in the fifth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Clemson maintained that lead until the eighth inning, when Maryland scored three runs on three two-out hits to tie the score. But with runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Shaffer hit high flyball to deep right field that fell for a triple to score two runs. Jordan Hagel responded with a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, but it was not enough, as Clemson won its sixth game in a row away from home.

Scott Firth (4-0) earned the win despite allowing five hits, four runs, and one walk with two strikeouts in the final 2.0 innings pitched. Starter Kevin Brady, who was pitching less than 25 miles from his hometown of Gaithersburg, MD, tied his career high with 7.0 innings pitched. He yielded just five hits, no runs, and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Charlie Haslup (3-4), the second of three Terrapin hurlers, suffered the loss. He gave up a single to his only batter, who ended up scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. Starter Jimmy Reed surrendered eight hits, three runs (two earned), and three walks with five strikeouts in 8.1 innings pitched.

The Tigers took the game's first lead in the third inning. Jason Stolz led off with an infield single, then the next two Tigers fouled out on bunts. After Shaffer walked on seven pitches, Phil Pohl lined a two-out single to left field to score Stolz.

In the fifth inning, Steve Wilkerson led off with a double down the left-field line. Two batters later, Shaffer's sharply-hit grounder got by the glove of third-baseman K.J. Hockaday, allowing Wilkerson to score. Pohl followed with a double to left-center to plate Shaffer, giving Clemson a 3-0 lead.

The Tigers threatened to add to their lead in the top of the eighth inning, but a stellar relay throw kept the Terrapins down by only three runs. Jay Baum lined a one-out single to right field. Two batters later, Jon McGibbon belted a two-out double to right-center, but the relay throw from shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez was in time to retire Baum in a close play at the plate.

The defensive play was critical, as the Terrapins used three two-out hits in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the score. Rodriguez led off with a single to right-center, then Hagel grounded out to first. McGibbon's throw to second in an attempt to double-up Rodriguez was errant, allowing Rodriguez to move to third base. Tomo Delp struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch for out #2, but Hockaday lined a single to center to plate Hagel. After Hockaday advanced to second on a wild pitch, Kyle Convissar hit a grounder over the first-base bag. McGibbon knocked the ball down, but Convissar was safe at first. Hockaday never stopped and scored all the way from second base. Ryan Holland then lined a double to left-center to plate Convissar.

However, the Tigers used a two-out hit of their own to regain the lead in the top of the ninth inning. Stolz reached on an infield single with one out. Two batters later, Thomas Brittle drew a two-out walk, then Shaffer crushed an opposite-field triple to the wall in right field to score Stolz and Brittle.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Korey Wacker hit a liner headed up the middle, but Firth snagged the ball out of the air for out #1. Rodriguez flied out to center for out #2, then Hagel laced a solo home run to left-center, his third long ball of the year. But Firth struck out Delp looking to end the game.

Stolz had a team-high three hits and scored two runs for the Tigers, who amassed 10 hits. Pohl went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while Brittle extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning double.

Jack Cleary had a team-high three hits for Maryland, who also totaled 10 hits. Convissar added two hits, an RBI, and a run.

Clemson and Maryland will play game-two of the series and the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday at 11:00 AM.

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