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Clemson baseball falls to Louisville in ACC Tournament pool play


Caden Grice hit a pair of homers for Clemson vs. Louisville in the ACC Tournament on May 25, 2021. Clemson Athletics/Provided.

CLEMSON — In a baseball game that felt more like a heavyweight fight, Clemson couldn't land the final blow.

The No. 11-seed Tigers on May 25 fell to No. 7-seed Louisville 15-10 in the first game of pool play at the ACC Tournament in Charlotte. Clemson hit four homers, but the Cardinals hit an ACC Tournament record seven, including a three-run shot off the bat of first baseman Alex Binelas in the sixth inning that put the Tigers away for good. Binelas also hit a pair of solo shots and finished with six RBIs.

The defeat means Clemson is eliminated from winning the tournament, but the Tigers will play No. 2 seed Georgia Tech as part of pool play on May 26 in what will be their final game of the season. 

"We all knew what the day represented for us, that our season pretty much was dependent upon today's game," Clemson coach Monte Lee said. "They're down in the dumps."

Binelas' main counterpart in the slugfest was designated hitter Caden Grice, who kicked off the scoring with a two-run blast in the first before leading off the third with another long ball that put Clemson up 6-4.

But as the game wore on, it was Louisville's pitching staff that tightened up. The Tigers added one more run after Binelas' three-run shot — an RBI single off the bat of catcher Adam Hackenberg in the sixth — but it wasn't enough.

"We competed hard the whole game. That bats were really hot today," Grice said. "Just on the pitching side couldn't put things together."

Left-hander Keyshawn Askew got the start for Clemson and was knocked out of the game after two innings. Right-hander Mack Anglin could not stop the bleeding and was also gone after two innings. By the time left-hander P.J. Labriola entered in the fifth, Louisville had already put 10 runs on the board.

The defeat marked the end to Clemson's hopes of advancing past pool play — and by extension, to the NCAA Tournament. Lee said the Tigers will play for each other against Georgia Tech. 

"As far as motivation goes, I think the motivation is for each other," Lee said. "There's going to be quite a few guys tomorrow that have played a lot of baseball in a Clemson uniform (that won't ever again). Tomorrow's about them."

Follow Joshua Needelman on Twitter at @joshneedelman.

Joshua Needelman covers Clemson for The Post and Courier. He's a Long Island, N.Y., native and a University of Maryland alum. He's won national and state awards in sports and feature writing, and for reasons unclear he still roots for the New York Knicks.

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