DURHAM, N.C. - Jeff Schaus and John Hinson combined for seven RBI, including four in the 11th inning, to lead No. 11 Clemson to an 11-5 extra-inning win over Duke on Saturday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Schaus homered and drove in four RBI while Hinson finished 3-for-7 with two doubles and three RBI. The duo tagged back-to-back two-RBI hits in the top of the 11th inning to complete a comeback in which the Tigers scored twice in the top of the ninth to stake a temporary lead before eventually scoring six runs in the 11th inning.
Duke (18-13, 4-10 ACC) led 4-3 heading into the ninth inning, thanks to a grand slam from senior Will Currier that erased a 3-0 Clemson lead. Clemson scored twice in the top of the ninth, however, to reclaim the lead before freshman Marcus Stroman knotted the game for Duke with a two-strike, two-out RBI double in the bottom half of the ninth.
Stroman stayed on to pitch a scoreless 10th inning, but Clemson eventually got to Duke's bullpen in the 11th. The Tigers took advantage of four walks, a hit batter and a Duke fielding error in the final frame to even the series at one game apiece.
Clemson reliever Tomas Cruz (2-2) earned the win after holding Duke to one run over the final four innings of the game. Cruz did not walk a batter while working around six Duke hits in place of starter Scott Weismann, who threw seven innings and surrendered all four of his runs on Currier's grand slam.
Currier's grand slam was his sixth of the season and extended a three-game streak in which the senior designated hitter has hit a home run. Currier, who is batting .375 with five homers and 13 RBI over his past eight games, also extended his hitting streak to a career-best six games.
Clemson's six-run 11th inning erased a solid start from Duke junior Dennis O'Grady, who scattered three runs over 5.2 innings while throwing 120 pitches. O'Grady struck out five batters before handing the ball to senior Michael Ness, who shut out the Tigers for 2.1 innings to allow Duke to take the lead into the ninth. The Tigers made the most of their opportunities in the ninth, however, and used a groundout and a sacrifice fly to send in two runs against Stroman. Stroman would shut out the Tigers in the 10th inning before Duke went to the bullpen again in the 11th and used Ryan Knott (2-1), who took his first loss of the season, Eric Pfisterer and Devin Burke in the final inning.
Clemson wasted little time in taking a 1-0 lead on Saturday and got a two-out RBI single from Hinson in the first inning. With Mike Freeman on second base following a one-out double, Hinson dropped a single down the right field line to give the Tigers their first run of the ballgame.
O'Grady settled down after the first inning and blanked the Tigers over the next three frames. Unfortunately for Duke, however, Weismann was just as good and shut out Duke over the first four innings of the game. Weismann gave up a leadoff single to Ryan McCurdy in the first inning, but bounced back to retire the next 11 batters he faced.
Clemson's offense went back to work in the top of the fifth and extended the lead to 3-0 on a two-run homer from Schaus. With Chris Epps on first base, Schaus took a first pitch strike, but then ripped O'Grady's next offering over the right field wall for his seventh long ball of the season.
O'Grady got into some trouble in the top of the fifth, but got bailed out the jam by Ness to keep the deficit at 3-0. O'Grady retired two of the first three hitters he faced, but allowed a two-out single and a walk to load the bases. Following O'Grady's 120th pitch, Ness entered the game and needed just two pitches to get Freeman to fly out to left field.
Weismann shut Duke out again in the fifth, but could not keep the Blue Devil bats down for long. Currier put Duke on top 4-3 with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the sixth, mashing a two-out grand slam over the left field wall. The four-run homer came on a 2-2 count after Currier fouled off a two-strike fastball. It was the third straight game in which Currier homered.
Ness stayed on to throw two scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth to take Duke's 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning. Duke then went to Stroman, who closed out Friday's 10-9 win, but the freshman right-hander allowed the Tigers to reclaim the lead on an RBI groundout from Will Lamb and a go-ahead sacrifice fly from Wilson Boyd.
Stroman redeemed himself in the bottom of the ninth, however, by cracking a two-out RBI double down the left field line. Stroman fell behind 0-2 in the count, but fouled off the next pitch and took a ball before sending a hard line drive down the left field line. Jonathan Foreman, who pinch ran at second for Ben Grisz who singled, scored easily on the hit to tie the game. Duke opted to go for the win, however, and tried to send Will Piwnica-Worms to the plate from first base, but had him thrown out on the relay from Schaus to Hinson to Nester.
Stroman shut out the Tigers in the top of the 10th to give Duke another shot at a win. The Blue Devils were just inches away from winning the game in their next turn when they tried to score the game-winner on a wild pitch. Duke had runners on first and second with no outs when Cruz, who entered the game to pitch in the eighth inning, struck out Lemmerman, but fired a wild pitch for his third strike. Litwin, who was on second following a leadoff single, advanced to third and go the green light to go for the plate, but Cruz retrieved the ball at the backstop and fired it to his catcher, John Nester, who applied the tag on top of the plate.
Duke was then forced to go deeper into its bullpen in the top of the 11th, which proved to be the opportunity Clemson needed to take over. The Tigers drew three walks in the final inning and got a two-run single Schaus and a two-run double from Hinson in their final offensive outburst. Cruz would stay on to close out the victory with a scoreless bottom of the 11th.
With the series tied at 1-1, Duke and Clemson play for the series win on Sunday, April 11, at 1 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Clemson will throw left-hander Will Lamb (3-1, 3.60 ERA), while Duke has not named a starter for the series finale.