GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sophomore left-hander Matthew Crownover struck out nine and Tyler Krieger put the Tigers on top with a two-run double in the fifth to lead Clemson to a 5-3 victory over the Duke baseball team in ACC Tournament action Wednesday morning at NewBridge Bank Park.
Crownover (8-5) scattered five hits over 7.2 innings of work, holding the Blue Devils scoreless after the second to allow Clemson (35-22) to rally for the victory. Fellow sophomore Michael Matuella (1-3) pitched well in the loss, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four over 6.2 innings.
Duke (32-24) staked a 2-0 advantage in the second on redshirt senior Ryan Deitrich’s eighth home run of the season, but the Tigers got a run back in the fourth before taking the lead for good on Krieger’s two-out, two-run double the following frame.
“First of all, give a ton of credit to Clemson,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “They played great, and Crownover was really, really good. He’s a tremendous competitor, and they did a great job getting clutch hits.”
The game got off to an exciting start as a play at the plate ended the first inning. Krieger singled and stole second before trying to score on a Duke throwing error. The Blue Devils’ defense recovered in time, and first baseman Chris Marconcini threw Krieger out at home to keep the game scoreless.
Deitrich broke the 0-0 stalemate in the bottom of the second, drilling his third homer in as many games to left center. The two-run shot also plated Marconcini, who legged out an infield base hit, and tied Deitrich for the team lead in home runs.
Matuella pitched a perfect third before encountering trouble in the fourth. Clemson recorded three consecutive singles off the bats of Steven Duggar, Steve Wilkerson and Garrett Boulware to cut the deficit to 2-1. Matuella did well to minimize the damage, inducing a 6-4 double play to wrap up the frame.
After working out of a jam in the fourth, Duke was unable to escape the fifth unscathed. Chris Okey and Weston Wilson added back-to-back base hits in the fifth before Krieger delivered the clutch two-out double to put the Tigers up 3-2.
After gaining the lead, Crownover permitted just two baserunners while striking out three over his final 2.2 innings of work. The Clemson starter got Duke to fly out 11 times on the day, consistently inducing easy pop ups for his defense.
“We were content to pop the ball up in the air,” Pollard said. “We talked about the importance of forcing their infield to make plays, and we didn’t adjust as the game went on. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
Sophomore Nick Hendrix struck out two of the four batters he faced in relief to keep the deficit at a lone run heading to the later innings.
Clemson capitalized on a Duke miscue to add a pair of insurance runs in the ninth. Okey reached via an error and Wilson followed with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk to load the bases, Duggar laced a two-run single to give the Tigers a 5-2 cushion.
Duke attempted to mount a two-out rally in the bottom half, but the Blue Devils came up just short. Back-to-back walks to Grant McCabe and Matt Berezo gave the Blue Devils life, and Deitrich added his third RBI of the day with a single to right. Redshirt junior Mike Rosenfeld sent a line drive towards the right center gap, however, Tiger centerfielder Tyler Slaton tracked it down to seal the victory.
The Blue Devils continue pool play action Thursday, facing Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. from NewBridge Bank Park.