CLEMSON – Clemson was unable to complete a sweep of No. 1 Florida State on Monday but Clemson did seal a series with a 9-7 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against the Seminoles before dropping the second game, 9-5.
With the series win the Tigers continue their end-of-the-regular-season surge, having won 11 of 15 games and six of its last seven series. Clemson (31-21, 16-11 ACC) has won three straight series against the Seminoles (41-11, 22-5).
Clemson is still unlikely to host an NCAA Regional, according to projections, but the Tigers have cemented themselves as a likely No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong close to the regular season.
PerfectGame.org had Clemson projected as a No. 2 seed playing at the Stanford Regional in its NCAA Tournament projection last week. But with Clemson’s series win against the nation’s No. 1 team the Tigers are hoping for a more advantageous geographic postseason berth, perhaps as a No. 2 seed at a Southeastern Conference site.
Clemson is unlikely to earn a hosting bid as it will not reach the 40-win mark, a threshold usually met by hosting teams. Clemson was No. 24 in the May 8 RPI rankings.
What Clemson did learn Monday is it needs to get ace Kevin Brady back healthy for the NCAA Tournament. Brady missed his second straight series with a hamstring injury and coach Jack Leggett is unsure if he’ll be ready to pitch in time for the ACC Tournament.
Clemson’s starting pitcher offered mixed performances Monday. The sinker-balling Kevin Pohle started the first game and was effective, allowing just one earned run over six innings.
But game two starter Jonathan Meyer was overmatched allowing 10 hits and six runs, all earned, in just 2 1/3 innings. Meyer is typically used in relief or as a midweek starter but was pressed into the weekend starting assignments due to Brady’s injury.
Clemson allowed 16 hits in its loss Monday, the third most hits it has allowed this season.
Both starters failed to strike out a single Seminole and missing bats is often an ingredient of postseason success.
Clemson’s offense continued to trend upward against Florida State.
In the victory Monday, Clemson produced its nine runs on nine hits. Brad Felder, Steve Wilkerson and Spencer Kieboom each had two RBIs.
The Clemson offense touched up No. 2 Florida State starter Mike Compton, who entered Monday with a 9-0 record and 2.59 ERA but he lasted just 1 1/3 innings allowing six runs, three earned, six hits and a walk. Clemson batted around in the second inning, scoring five runs, including an RBI hit from Felder, a Citadel transfer, who earned the start in right field.
Clemson scored three more runs in the fourth, including a two-run single from Spencer Kieboom, to take an 8-1 lead. Florida State threatened late but had eight- and ninth-inning rallies thwarted by fine catches by Clemson center fielder Thomas Brittle.
In the Game 2 loss, Clemson was able to produce nine more hits and five runs.
Shortstop Jason Stolz had four RBIs in the second game, three coming on a deep home run that landed six rows up beyond the 370-foot marker in the left-center field bleachers.
Pohle allowed five hits and walked one, but he didn’t miss many bats evidenced by his failure to record a single strike out.