No. 9 Florida State tops No. 17 Clemson, 6-1

Tallahassee, Fla. — Sophomore left-handers Brandon Leibrandt and Billy Strode combined to scatter 13 hits and allow only one run to lead No. 9 Florida State to a 6-1 victory over No. 17 Clemson in front of 4,979 fans at Dick Howser Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson finished the regular season 39-17 overall and 18-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State (44-11, 20-10) won the series, 2-1.

The Tigers scored a run in the first inning and put 16 batters on base. However, Clemson could not come up with a clutch hit after the first inning and left 13 runners on base, including 10 in scoring position.

Leibrandt (9-4) earned the win despite yielding nine hits, one run, and two walks with three strikeouts in five innings. Strode recorded his first career save by tossing four scoreless innings, allowing four hits, no runs, and no walks with two strikeouts.

Tigers starter Zack Erwin (5-1) gave up six hits, three runs and one walk with one strikeout in two innings.

Clemson wasted little time taking the game’s first lead in the first inning. Maleeke Gibson led off with a double down the right-field line, moved to third on Steve Wilkerson’s groundout to short and scored on Steven Duggar’s single through the right side.

It was all FSU after that. In the second inning, Jose Brizuela reached on a bunt single with one out and scored on Giovanny Alfonzo’s double down the left-field line.

DJ Stewart led off the third inning with a single to left field and Stephen McGee flared a single to right-center. Marcus Davis laced a single to right field to score Stewart. John Nogowski hit a chopper to third on a potential double-play grounder, but the ball went under third baseman Shane Kennedy’s glove and McGee scored to give Florida State a 3-1 lead.

Clemson threatened in the fourth when Tyler Krieger drew a one-out walk and Jon McGibbon lined a single to right field. Thomas Brittle walked to load the bases, but the next two Tigers were retired to end the inning.

In the top of the sixth inning, singles by Krieger, McGibbon, and Brittle loaded the bases with no outs, but the next three Tigers were retired without Clemson scoring a run.

Brizuela led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a bloop single to left-center and Alfonzo was hit by an 0-2 pitch. After both runners moved up a base on John Sansone’s sacrifice bunt, Seth Miller belted a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single to score Brizuela and Alfonzo, giving the Seminoles a 5-1 lead.

Garrett Boulware reached with one out in the top of the seventh inning on a fielding error at short by Alfonzo, then Kennedy singled through the right side. However, Boulware, who was running on the pitch, was thrown out at third base by right fielder Jameis Winston on Kennedy’s single. Krieger hit a chopper up the middle that Alfonzo booted again, but he caught the bouncing ball and stepped on second to end the inning.

Davis led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and moved to third on Nogowski’s flyout to center. Davis then scored on a wild pitch on an 0-2 pitch to Winston.

In the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Kevin Bradley led off with a single through the left side, but was erased two batters later on Duggar’s fielder’s choice. Boulware hit a two-out double to right field to advance Duggar to third, then Kennedy hit a line drive to left field. But it was right at Stewart for the game’s final out.

Stewart, McGee, Brizuela, and Alfonzo all had two hits apiece to pace the Seminoles’ 13-hit attack.

McGibbon had a game-high three hits to lead the Tigers. Duggar, Boulware, and Brittle added two hits apiece.

Clemson finished in third place in the ACC Atlantic Division and fifth in the overall ACC standings. Clemson will be the No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament at Durham (N.C.) Bulls Athletic Park. The Tigers will play one game each against No. 4-seeded N.C. State, No. 1-seeded North Carolina, and No. 8-seeded Miami in that order in the ACC tournament, which starts on Wednesday. The winner of Clemson’s bracket will advance to the ACC tournament championship game on May 25. The Tigers’ tourney schedule will be announced this morning.