LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Duke scored five of its six runs with two outs and received 3.1 innings of shutout relief from graduate student Nick Hendrix to upend No. 14 Clemson, 6-3, in ACC Tournament play Tuesday evening at Louisville Slugger Field.
Clemson (39-18) scored all three runs on solo homers -- one each in the first, second and fourth innings --- to lead Duke (29-27)3-1 after four. The Blue Devils fought to knot the score at three-all, then scored three two-out runs in the eighth to break the tie.
“We were opportunistic with our hits,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We were fortunate in ways. We beat a really good baseball team tonight.”
In his 118th career appearance, Hendrix (3-1) took care of the rest after assuming the mound with two outs in the sixth. The Arlington, Texas, native did not allow a hit the rest of the way to secure the Blue Devil victory. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. Duke's defense also made several spectacular plays in support of Hendrix.
“Nick Hendrix came in and competed like he has all year,” Pollard added.
Sophomore Jimmy Herron went 3-for-4 with a run, an RBI and a walk to pace Duke at the plate. Junior Michael Smiciklas was 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI, while classmate Jack Labosky was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“We've really just been trying to play loose,” Herron said. “Timely hitting wins games and we had some big two-out hits.”
Duke and Clemson traded tallies in the first inning. Herron led off with a single and later scored on a Labosky two-out RBI base knock in the top of the first. Clemson center fielder Chase Pinder belted a solo shot to start the bottom half before Mitch Stallings set down the next three Tigers in order.
First baseman Andrew Cox sent Clemson's second solo shot into the right field seats to establish a 2-1 Tiger advantage. Shortstop Logan Davidson then added a third with two outs in the fourth.
A dropped fly ball in left resulted in Duke's second run. Smiciklas led off the fifth with a double and crossed home after Clemson left fielder Reed Rohlman dropped a Chris Proctor line drive.
Herron tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh on his third single of the day. Junior Max Miller drew a one-out walk before Proctor singled following an eight-pitch at bat. Herron then drilled a base hit through the 5-6 hole to knot the score.
Smiciklas broke the 3-3 tie with a two-out check swing double inside the left field line to plate sophomore Griffin Conine, who singled to start the eighth. Graduate student Jalen Phillips padded the margin with a two-out, two-run single to right.
In the no decision, Stallings allowed three runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings. Owen Griffith (0-2) suffered the loss for Clemson. He allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits in a third of an inning.
“That was a big part of the ballgame,” Pollard said. “After Mitch [Stallings] gave up the solo home run in the first inning, he didn't shy away from contact. He kept going at guys.”
Duke concludes pool play at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 24 against No. 4 seed Virginia at Louisville Slugger Field.