CLEMSON – Virginia starting pitcher Nick Howard entered Sunday with a 0.81 ERA and he performed like an elite pitcher vs. Clemson, leading No. 22 Virginia to an 8-5 win and series win over the Tigers (11-7, 3-3 ACC).

Howard set the first 11 Clemson batters down in order and allowed just two runs over six innings. He threw just 17 pitches in the first two innings in contrast to Clemson starting pitcher Scott Firth, who threw 67 pitchers of the first two innings.

Firth made his first poor start of the season Sunday, struggling with command as he loaded the bases and walked in two runs in the first innings. Firth (2-3) entered with a 0.98 ERA but allowed nine hits, six runs and two walks over five innings.

That Firth already has three losses is telling of the Clemson offensive struggles, though the Tigers were able to record 14 hits Sunday.

Just two Clemson batters in the lineup entered with batting averages above .300: Steve Wilkerson (.309) and Garrett Boulware (.346).

Wilkerson broke up Howard’s perfect game in the fourth and added an RBI double in the seventh to cut the Virginia lead to 6-3. But Virginia (17-2, 4-2) added two runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.