Tigers clinch series against Eagles, earn ACC Baseball Championship berth

Geoffrey Gilbert got off to a good start as the Tiger offense warmed up. (Clemson Athletics Photo)

CLEMSON — Clemson’s baseball season was extended for at least one more week on Friday, and the result kept things on track for another possible season extension ahead.

Monte LeeThe Tigers clinched a spot in the ACC Baseball Championship in Charlotte next week with a 6-2 win over Boston College. Based on Friday night and Saturday results, Clemson (34-21, 12-16 ACC) can finish up to 10 seeds in the 12-team field, but currently sits in 12th place Friday afternoon.

The Tigers are also projected as one of the last teams on the NCAA Tournament field currently and every win counts, looking for a series sweep at the 11 a.m. start on Saturday.

Clemson was ranked No. 27 in the RPI rankings used by the NCAA late Friday afternoon.

“We told the guys after the game that we had accomplished one thing,” Lee said. “We managed to get into the ACC Tournament but our work is not done. We are still trying to work on our CV to get into the NCAA Tournament. A win tomorrow is a huge deal for us because it could potentially – obviously with other games and other RPI factors in there – that might keep us under that number 30 (ranking), which is key with 13 wins (conference) when you look at the previous case of teams that came in with 13 ( conference) wins in the NCAA tournament. It’s very important to keep our RPI where it is.

“It’s important for us (the place for the ACC tournament), we’re giving ourselves a chance now. We’re very proud that our team is able to do this and we’re lucky to keep playing.”

After a 15-1 win on Thursday, points were harder to come by going into the Friday afternoon heat.

BC’s Cameron Leary hit an imposing solo home run to right field to put the Eagles (19-33, 5-24) on the board first, but Clemson went left Geoffrey Gilbert settled from there, allowing just two more hits over the next four frames without another run.

It gave his offense some time to get going, and on a hot streak since returning to the lineup on Thursday, Cooper Ingle continued his run with an RBI brace off the top of the left field wall to tie the game in the first inning.

Starting his first career after Jonathan FrenchThursday’s injury (hamstring), freshman receiver Reed Garris notched his first career RBI on his first career hit in four at-bats to put Clemson ahead in the second.

Bryar Hawkins hit back-to-back home runs to extend Clemson’s lead to 3-1 in four innings.

Gilbert (5-2) got the hook in the sixth frame after giving up another solo shot to right field, finishing with five strikeouts, four hits allowed and one walk in 5 2/3 innings.

ACC Player of the Year Nominee Maxim Wagner got it back in the seventh inning with a three-run homer to put the Tigers up 6-2. It was Wagner’s 26th home run of the season to take him to one of the single-season records and second single-handedly in the record books. He also homered on Thursday.

“We had to fight today. We didn’t necessarily rip baseball coverage, but we took some opportunities when we got them,” Lee said.

First-year right-hander austin gordon finished with 3 1/3 shutout frames with seven strikeouts for the stoppage (2). In two games of the series, the Clemson relief pitcher shut out the Eagles in 5 1/3 innings with three pitchers.

Gordon also worked with Gilbert for a big win last Sunday in Virginia.

“When you look at where we were and what we needed to do to get into the ACC tournament, we had to have some big starts,” Lee said. “We’ve said it all year. We swing the bats with anyone in the country. When we get good starts on the mound and shut down the other team to give our offense a chance to score points, we can beat anyone in the country. We won Gilbert’s start against Virginia and he took a big step forward after losing Game 1, we needed to get a victory in Virginia. Geoff has stepped up and gave us a huge start. And we had to win today.”

“I just see electric stuff. He’s sort of a latecomer,” Lee said of Gordon’s impact on the stretch. “We thought he was going to be really good when we watched him in the fall. He certainly wasn’t showing the speed he has now, but he had two breaking balls and he’s very big and throwable and a kid. super-athletic Velocity kept climbing and the hard work he put in in the weight room really paid off.

“We thought he was going to be a guy for us, it was only a matter of time… He’s definitely making some leaps in the last half of the season which are quite telling. He has a chance to be special for us.”

Clemson will host a Senior Day ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Note on injuries: Lee said after Friday’s game that Cooper Ingle won’t be playing catcher for the foreseeable future. He came out of one game last week with an injury and missed four games until he was released for a designated hitter role in the BC Series. Lee didn’t get an update on French’s condition after the game (hamstrings).

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