After getting just six hits against South Carolina Wednesday, No. 14 Clemson followed it up with a seven-hit performance, with none of them coming consecutively, as No. 6 Virginia literally ran away with a 5-3 victory Friday night at a full Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Cavaliers right-handed pitcher Jacob Thompson improved to 9-0 on the season by allowing six hits over eight innings of work. He didn't allow a single hit by a right-handed batter.
"He's throws one of the more devastating breaking balls in the nation," said Clemson's Andy D'Alessio, who managed two hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning. "He's 9-0 for a reason. He's no joke."
Each time it seemed the Tigers (25-12, 10-6 ACC) were about to mount some sort of a comeback, they'd either strikeout or hit into a double play. There were no rallies on this night.
"We're just not quite firing on all cylinders," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We have to build on innings when we do something positive."
One staple that has been a Tigers trademark under Leggett is their stellar defense. Ironically enough, it was an error by second baseman David Bunnell that wound up being a major reason for Clemson's undoing.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Mike Mitchell hit a grounder to second, but the ball ate Bunnell up and he was unable to make a play. Starting pitcher Daniel Moskos then walked Greg Miclat to put runners on first and second with two outs.
The two runners then committed a double-steal to get into scoring position. Stealing bases was definitely the theme of the evening as the Cavaliers stole nine, the most against a Clemson team since California stole 10 in 1997.
Following the steals, Brandon Marsh doubled to left to score both runs and give Virginia a 3-1 lead. Sean Doolittle then hit a blooper to left to score Marsh and make it 4-1.
"They took advantage of every mistake we made," Leggett said. "They put pressure on you, which is why you can't allow walks or have errors."
The Cavaliers (33-8, 12-6 ACC) were running so much that catcher Ben Hogan almost seemed shellshocked.
"They get guys on base who can run all over the place," Hogan said. "They steal every chance they get. You've got to expect them to run on every pitch."
Clemson did manage to put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but reliever Casey Lambert struck out Alex Lee to end the game and record his 40th career save, which is just one shy of the ACC record.
It's the seventh straight win over the Tigers by Virginia, which is the longest streak against Clemson since Florida State won nine straight over the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
"That's the name of the game, two-out RBIs," D'Alessio said. "We're going to hit. I'm not worried about it. Once we start clicking, we're going to go."
Leggett said that better happen sooner rather than later if the Tigers are going to succeed this season.
"This (team) is all we've got," he said. "This team really has got to step up and respond or we'll get lost in a crowd here. We can't go out and make any trades. This is who we are."
Tigers Fall to Virginia
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