Every Tiger starter had a hit as the Tigers improved to 31-4. Western Carolina dropped to 22-13.
Clemson took the lead for good in the seventh after trading runs with Western Carolina for most of the game. Chad Coder doubled to get things going for Clemson and he scored two batters later on L.J. DeMaino's second RBI single of the evening. Pinch hitter Russell Triplett, who reahed on a walk, scored on a wild pitch and Kyle Frank walked to bring Khalil Greene to the plate. The senior belted his 11th home run of the season, this one a three-run shot, to give Clemson a 13-8 lead it would not relinquish.
Thomas Boozer (1-0) earned his first win of the year for Clemson by pitching 3.1 innings, allowing two hits and one run while walking one and striking out two. DeMaino and Coder each had three hits to pace the Clemson offense. Seth Foster (6-2) picked up the loss for the Catamounts.
Western Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the first when Alan Beck hit a two-out triple that bounced off the wall in right and later scored on a Donovan Minero single. Clemson answered immediately in the bottom of the frame with its own two-out rally. Greene singled and was followed by Baker's 14th home run of the season to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. In the second inning, Coder reached on an infield hit, stole second and came home on DeMaino's single for a 3-1 lead.
The Catamounts came back with three runs in the third off of an RBI single by Beck and a two-run double by Todd Buchanan. Clemson regained the lead in the bottom of the frame when Michael Johnson sent a 3-2 pitch soaring over the right field fence. The home run was Johnson's 14th of the season, which put him back into a tie with Baker for the team lead. Chad Coder singled in a run to cap the scoring as Clemson secured a 6-4 advantage.
Western loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Relief pitcher Chad Bendinelli entered the game and got Beck to tap one back to the mound, but Bendinelli's lob toss to the plate was bobbled by catcher Steve Pyzik, who got the force at home but not a double play. Buchanan then stepped up to the plate and crushed Bendinelli's first offering deep to right for a grand slam, the third of his career. The Catamounts loaded the bases again in the inning before reliever Thomas Boozer recorded the final out.
With two away in the bottom of the sixth, Johnson struck again, hitting another two-run bomb to right field to knot the game at eight. It marked the third multi-home run game of the season for Johnson.
Boozer set down the Catamounts in the seventh and gave up one run in the eighth while the Tiger bats went to work. He induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the game in the ninth.
Clemson will host South Carolina on Wednesday night at 7:15 PM at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
A limited number of general admission and standing room only tickets will be sold at the left field gate starting at 5:00 PM.
#1 Ranked Tigers Down Western Carolina
CUTigers.com Top Stories
RECRUITING RADARIn our weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front!
MONDAY WEST ZONE INTERVIEWSWatch Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman and Tony Elliott discuss the upcoming showdown with Florida State!
TIGERS REMAIN #3 IN BOTH POLLSWith Ohio State losing and Michigan jumping to #2, idle Clemson sits at #3 in both of Sunday's polls.
CUTigers.comYesterday at 10:59 AM
GRADES AND ANALYSIS: NC State#3 Clemson committed 4 turnovers, including 3 in the red zone and a pick-six, in its 24-17 overtime win over NC State in Death Valley.
CUTigers.comThursday at 2:52 PM