CLEMSON, S.C. – Cleanup hitter Phil Pohl drove in three RBI, and reliever Jonathan Meyer threw five one-hit innings out of the bullpen to lead No. 16 Clemson past Duke 9-6 in the series opener on Friday evening at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Pohl and the other three hitters atop Clemson’s batting order combined to drive in seven of the Tigers’ nine runs. Leadoff man John Hinson went 3-for-5 with an RBI and three runs, two-hitter Will Lamb delivered two RBI, three-hitter Jeff Schaus went 3-for-4 with two doubles and Pohl finished 2-for-5 as the Tigers totaled 14 hits against a Duke pitching staff that had not allowed more than four runs in five straight games.
Clemson (8-7, 1-3 ACC) scored eight of its nine runs in the first three innings to build an 8-4 lead before Meyer (1-0) took over on the mound and shut down the Duke offense through the eighth inning. Meyer faced the minimum through his first four innings and did not allow a hit until cleanup hitter Jeff Kremer tagged his second single of the game in the eighth inning.
The Tigers touched up Duke freshman starter Drew Van Orden (2-3) for eight runs – seven earned – over 2.2 innings before fellow freshman Dillon Haviland entered the game in the third and held Clemson to just three hits over the next five innings. Haviland, who tossed five shutout innings in last Tuesday’s win over N.C. Central, has allowed just two earned runs over the first 17.0 innings of his career.
The early Clemson rally, however, was too much for Duke (15-5, 2-2 ACC) to overcome. Duke managed to tie the game at 4-4 with a two-out rally in the third inning that featured four two-out hits, but the Tigers responded with four two-out runs in the bottom half of the inning to reclaim the lead for good. Duke freshman Chris Marconcini had an RBI double during the two-out rally, Kremer had an RBI single and junior Will Piwnica-Worms tagged a clutch two-out single to tie the score.
The tied score did not last, however, as the Tigers strung together five consecutive two-out hits to go ahead 8-4 in the third. Four of those two-out knocks came off of Van Orden, who sat down two of the first three hitters in the inning but could not close out the inning. Haviland took over with men on first and third and gave up an RBI single to Schaus, but then began his run of five shutout frames.
Haviland would hold the Tigers to just two hits and no runs into the eighth inning, but Clemson reliever Meyer matched him with five scoreless frames to keep the four-run lead intact. Duke managed just one hit off of the sophomore right-hander, who did not allow any of the first 14 batters he faced to reach base safely. He was rewarded with another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Schaus knocked a two-out RBI double off of the newly-inserted Duke reliever Mark Lumpa.
Clemson sophomore Joseph Moorefield took over for Meyer in the top of the ninth, and Duke looked on the verge of rallying again before Tiger reliever Alex Frederick took over and locked up the save. The Blue Devils opened the inning by touching Moorefield up with three straight singles from Angelo LaBruna, Marcus Stroman and David Perkins and scored their first run since the third inning on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Marconcini. That prompted the Tigers to bring Frederick, who quickly induced a double play ground ball for two quick outs and then ended the game with a strikeout to strand a Duke runner at third.
Duke and Clemson resume the series on Saturday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. Duke will start senior ace Dennis O’Grady (4-0, 1.80 ERA) opposite Clemson right-hander David Haselden (1-1, 2.79 ERA).