Tigers rally past Blue Devils in 11th inning

Jon McGibbon led off the 11th inning with a triple and scored the first of three runs in the frame to lead Clemson to a 4-1 victory over Duke in front of 1,582 fans at Jack Coombs Field on Friday night.

The Tigers, who took a 1-0 series lead, improved to 16-14 overall and 6-7 in the ACC. The Blue Devils fell to 13-18 overall and 5-8 in ACC play.

The Tigers scored a run in the first inning and held a 1-0 lead until the seventh inning, when the Blue Devils tied the score. Duke had scoring chances in the eighth and ninth innings, but Scott Firth worked out of jams both times to send the game into extra innings. McGibbon started Clemson’s three-run 11th inning with a triple to right-center, then Brad Felder and Kieboom hit run-scoring singles to give the Tigers their first extra-inning win in three tries this season.

Kevin Brady and Firth combined to allow just one run and seven hits in 11.0 innings pitched. Firth (2-0) earned the win by pitching the final 5.0 innings without giving up a run. He yielded three hits and five walks with two strikeouts. Brady tossed 6.0 strong innings, allowing just four hits, one run, and one walk with three strikeouts. Brady and Firth also teamed up to allow just one of Duke’s 13 baserunners to score in the contest.

Andrew Istler (2-2), the second of three Duke hurlers, suffered the loss. He gave up one run on one hit in 1.0 innings pitched. Starter Marcus Stroman gave up just seven hits, one unearned run, and three walks with 13 strikeouts in 9.0 innings pitched.

The Tigers wasted little time taking the game’s first lead in the first inning. Steve Wilkerson led off with an infield single to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and advanced to second on a passed ball. After Wilkerson moved to third on Thomas Brittle’s groundout to short, he scored on Richie Shaffer’s single to right field.

After the two teams failed to score during the next five innings, the Blue Devils finally broke through with a run in the seventh inning to tie the score. Mike Rosenfeld led off with a single up the middle and advanced to third on Will Piwnica-Worms’ single up the middle. Grant McCabe then lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Rosenfeld.

In the eighth inning, Andy Perez grounded a one-out double over the first-base bag and advanced to third on Mark Lumpa’s groundout. After Istler drew a two-out walk, Rosenfeld walked on four pitches to load the bases. Piwnica-Worms then fouled off three 3-2 pitches before Firth struck him out swinging on a fastball up and out of the strikezone to end the inning.

McGibbon belted the first pitch of the top of the 11th inning to the wall in right-center for a triple, Clemson’s only extra-base hit of the game. Jay Baum walked on four pitches, then Felder ripped a single up the middle to score McGibbon. Baum also scored and Felder moved to second on the play when the throw from center was errant. Spencer Kieboom followed with a single up the middle to score Felder.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, McCabe walked with one out, then Angelo La Bruna popped up for out #2. Anthony D’Alessandro grounded out to third to end the game.

Shaffer and Kieboom led the Tigers’ 10-hit performance with two hits apiece.

Piwnica-Worms went 2-for-5 to pace the Blue Devils, who amassed seven hits.

Clemson and Duke will play game-two of the three-game series on Saturday at 2:00 PM.

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