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No. 30 Liberty Defeats No. 20 Clemson, 4-3
No. 30 Liberty Flames catcher Danny Grauer homered and three relievers held the No. 20 Clemson Tigers without a run over the final five innings, en route to a 4-3 Liberty win, Tuesday evening at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Grauer put Liberty in front with his seventh home run of the year in the fifth inning and also had a RBI double in the third inning for the Flames.
Liberty moves to 32-9 on the season, while Clemson drops to 24-16. The meeting was the first between the two teams since the Flames defeated the Tigers twice during last season's NCAA Columbia, S.C. Regional.
Clemson staked itself to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, plating two runs without a hit. Five walks in the frame pushed across both Tigers runs. With center fielder Tyler Slaton aboard after opening the inning with a base on balls, right fielder Steven Duggar and designated hitter Chris Okey drew two-out walks to load the bases. The next two Clemson batters, first baseman Shane Kennedy and third baseman Jay Baum, each walked to force in runs.
The Tigers extended their advantage in the second. Back-to-back singles by Slaton and second baseman Steve Wilkerson put runners on the corners with one out. Catcher Garrett Boulware followed with a ground out to score Slaton for a 3-0 lead.
Liberty struck for two runs in the top of the third. With two outs, designated hitter Becker Sankey walked and moved to second on a single by shortstop Dalton Britt. First baseman Alex Close plated the Flames' first run of the game by singling sharply through the left side of the infield to drive home Sankey. Grauer followed with a RBI double off the left field wall, cutting the Clemson advantage to 3-2.
After stranding a runner at third base in the fourth, Liberty plated two two-out runs in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. With one out, Britt walked and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After moving to third on a fly out by Close, Britt scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 3-3. Grauer followed with his home run over the left-center field wall, putting the Flames in front, 4-3.
In the home half of the seventh, Clemson moved a runner to second base with one out. However, Clowers was able to retire the next batter, before Marsh entered with two men on and struck out Tigers pinch hitter Mike Dunster to end the inning.
Clowers moves to 5-0 on the year. The left-hander pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Parker Bean. He gave up three hits, while striking out two and walking two batters.
Marsh pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, before Perritt retired the side in order in the ninth for his ninth save of the year.
Clemson starting pitcher Clate Schmidt falls to 4-6 on the season. The right-hander gave up four runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. The first of three Tigers to pitch in the game, he struck out five and walked four batters.
Liberty collected six hits in the contest. Britt joined Grauer with two hits in the game. Clemson had eight hits. Slaton and Wilkerson had two hits apiece for the Tigers.
Liberty travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a contest against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.