CLEMSON, S.C. – Another great pitching performance from left hander Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) moved the FGCU baseball team past No. 23 Clemson, 4-2, on Saturday evening in Clemson, S.C at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Juniors Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) each recorded two-run home runs for the Eagles.
The A-Sun Conference leading Eagles improved their overall record to 28-13 (17-4 A-Sun), while No. 23 Clemson dropped to 25-17 overall (11-10 ACC).
Fresh off an FGCU record setting 15 strikeout outing, A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chris Sale had another noteworthy performance in the game one start. Improving his record to 7-0 on the year with the win, the junior lefty went eight full innings and allowed just two earned runs on four hits, with 10 strikeouts against the nationally ranked Tigers. Sale now has 103 strikeouts on the season with just 11 walks in 75 innings pitched. Allowing two hits, junior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn.) pitched one inning of scoreless baseball, earning his eighth save of the season in relief of Sale.
“This was a great victory for our baseball program,” said head coach Dave Tollett following the game. “To beat a solid ACC program like Clemson, who is always a national power, is a great achievement for our team. Additionally, Chris Sale always gives us an opportunity for a victory and he was great again tonight.”
Casey Harman started the evening for the Tigers and allowed two runs on eight hits in the seven inning no-decision. David Haselden picked up the loss after allowing two earned runs on two hits in 0.2 innings pitched.
The Eagles jumped out to a two run lead on the nation’s 23rd ranked Tigers in the top half of the fourth inning. Junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) led off the frame with a single up the middle before fellow classmate Roberson connected with an 0-1 delivery, and sent it over the outfield wall for a two-run home run (2-0). It was Roberson’s team leading ninth round tripper of the season.
Clemson halved their deficit in the bottom portion of the fourth. A solo home run by Brad Miller trimmed the FGCU lead to a one-run advantage (2-1).
In the home half of the fifth stanza, the Tigers leveled the scoring at two apiece. Richie Shaffer started things off with a single and a fielder’s choice allowed Will Lamb to reach first as Shaffer was out at second base. After Lamb proceeded to steal second, a single to right field by Mike Freeman scored the runner from second base (2-2).
The Blue and Green reestablished their lead in the visitor’s side of the eighth inning off the bat of Smierciak. Roberson started things off with a double to right center and came across the dish on home run to left field by Smierciak, his eighth of the year (4-2). The Eagles kept the Tigers scoreless over the final inning and a half to hold on to the two run victory.
FGCU recorded four runs on 12 hits in the game one contest. Roberson and Smierciak each connected for two-run homers in the contest with two RBI apiece and a combined three runs scored, going 2-for-5 and 2-for-4 respectively. Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) and Alvarez each went 2-for-5, while Alvarez added a run scored. Four other Eagles recorded one hit in the ball game.
Clemson moved their two runs home on six hits in the outing.
Due to the threat of inclement weather in the Clemson area, the series schedule has been adjusted. The teams will now compete in a Sunday doubleheader with the opening pitched scheduled for 1 p.m. The final game of the series will take place on Monday with a 6:30 p.m. start time.