DURHAM, N.C. – First baseman Jon McGibbon led off the top of the 11th with a triple to right center and scored the first of three runs in the inning to lead Clemson to a 4-1 win over Duke on Friday night at Jack Coombs Field.
With the score knotted at 1-1 entering the 11th, McGibbon drove the first pitch he saw to the wall in right center for a leadoff triple. After left fielder Jay Baum drew a walk on four pitches, right fielder Brad Felder lined an RBI-single to center to drive in the eventual game-winning run. Baum would come around and score on the play when the throw from center missed the cutoff man. Catcher Spencer Kieboom later capped the frame with an RBI-single up the middle to account for the final margin.
Duke starter Marcus Stroman had another stellar outing for the Blue Devils but got little run support. Stroman struck out 13 batters in a season-high 9.0 innings and held the Tigers to one unearned run on seven hits.
The 13 strikeouts marked the eighth double-digit strikeout game of Stroman’s career and matched his second-highest strikeout total in a single game. It was his fifth double-digit strikeout game of the season and the third in his last four starts.
Stroman now has 85 strikeouts in 58 innings, good for a 13.19 strikeouts per nine innings rate. He lowered his season ERA to 2.17 and his ERA in ACC games to 2.08. In his five ACC starts, Stroman has 55 strikeouts compared to just nine walks.
Stroman struck out six of the nine batters in Clemson’s lineup. He struck out leadoff hitter Steve Wilkerson four times. Stroman had a strikeout in all nine innings, including a pair of strikeouts in the second, third, fifth and ninth frames. From the fifth through the ninth innings, Stroman retired 14 of the final 18 batters he faced.
Stroman’s 239 career strikeouts put him at ninth on Duke’s all-time strikeouts list.
Clemson (16-14, 6-7 ACC) took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame on an RBI-single to right by third baseman Richie Shaffer.
Duke (13-18, 5-8 ACC) finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Mike Rosenfeld singled up the middle to begin the frame. Center fielder Will Piwnica-Worms then sent the first pitch he saw back up the middle, giving the Blue Devils runners on the corners. Right fielder Grant McCabe then lifted a sacrifice fly to left to bring Rosenfeld home, tying the game at 1-1.
The Tigers threatened to score in the eighth. McGibbon drew a one-out walk on four pitches. Baum then singled to center and when McGibbon tried to reach third, he was thrown out by Piwnica-Worms. Stroman then struck out Felder to end the frame.
The Blue Devils had scoring chances in the eighth and ninth but could not push the winning run across.
In the eighth, first baseman Andy Perez doubled down the right field line with one out on the board. Perez would then move to third on a groundout by second baseman Mark Lumpa. Back-to-back walks to left fielder Andrew Istler and Rosenfeld loaded the bases for Piwnica-Worms. Piwnica-Worms would foul off three 3-2 pitches before Scott Firth struck him out swinging to end the inning.
Duke would have runners at first and second with one out in the ninth but Firth worked out of another jam to send the game into extra innings.
Firth (2-0) earned the win after tossing five shutout innings out of the bullpen. Firth allowed just three hits in his relief appearance. Starter Kevin Brady held Duke scoreless for six innings before finally giving up a run in the seventh. Brady limited the Blue Devils to four hits and had three strikeouts in the game.
Istler (2-2) took the loss after allowing the eventual game-winning run to reach base in the 11th.
Piwnica-Worms went 2-for-5 to pace the Blue Devils at the plate. Rosenfeld had a hit and scored Duke’s lone run, while Perez, Lumpa, Istler and designated hitter Jeff Kremer all had one hit apiece. McCabe drove in the only run of the game for Duke.
Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday’s series finale will be at 1 p.m. GoDuke.com will have exclusive live video coverage of the remainder of the series.