Clemson rallies to avoid another upset to Black Bears

Trailing 4-0, No. 16 Clemson scored nine combined runs in the third, fifth, and sixth innings to defeat Maine 9-5 in front of 5,340 fans at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers, who evened the series 1-1, improved to 3-2 on the season, while the Black Bears fell to 1-1.

Maine scored four runs in the top of the third inning to take a 4-0 lead, but Clemson chipped away with two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Then in the fifth inning, the Tigers scored five runs, capped by Spencer Kieboom’s three-run homer. Phil Pohl added a two-run home run in the sixth inning.

Tiger starter Dominic Leone (2-0) earned the win despite allowing six hits, four runs, and three walks with six strikeouts in 5.0 innings pitched. Mike Kent pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of one-hit ball in relief during a key part of the game.

Jeffrey Gibbs (0-1), the first of four Black Bear hurlers, suffered the loss. He yielded six hits, seven runs, and four walks with four strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched.

The Black Bears took the game’s first lead in the top of the third inning. Brian Doran led off with a seeing-eye, infield single to first and went to second on Mike Connolly’s sacrifice bunt. Colin Gay lined a single to right-center to score Doran and Gay advanced to third base on Troy Black’s single through the left side on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run play. Michael Fransoso followed with a single through the right side to score Gay and advance Black to third, then Fransoso moved to second on the throw to third base. Ian Leisenheimer followed with a single down the right-field line to score Black and Fransoso, giving Maine a 4-0 lead.

Clemson cut Maine’s lead in half in the bottom of the third inning. Thomas Brittle reached on a one-out walk and went to third on Steve Wilkerson’s single through the right side. Brittle scored on a wild pitch as Wilkerson stole second, then Pohl walked. Richie Shaffer followed with a line-drive single to left field to plate Wilkerson.

In the fifth inning, the Tigers exploded for five runs on four hits and one hit-by-pitch to take a 7-4 lead. Dominic Attanasio led off with an infield single to third and scored on Brittle’s triple to right-center. Wilkerson followed with a single through the left side to score Brittle and Pohl was hit-by-pitch. Two batters later, Kieboom belted a three-run homer down the left-field line, his first long ball of the year.

The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning when Pohl hit a two-out, two-run homer to left field, his second long ball of the season. Attanasio, who led off the inning with a walk, also scored on the home run.

In the ninth inning, Connolly lined a two-out double off the wall down the left-field line and scored on Gay’s single up the middle. But Black grounded out to second to end the game.

Shaffer went 3-for-5 with an RBI to lead the Tigers at the plate. Brittle went 1-for-2 with a triple, two runs, one RBI, three walks, and one stolen base.

Gay went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk to pace Maine, who outhit the Tigers 10-9.

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