Caden Grice of the Clemson Tigers circles the bases after hitting a grand slam home run against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the sixth inning during the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
DURHAM, N.C. – Caden Grice gripped his bat and stared back at Virginia Tech pitcher Andrew Sentlinger.
The bases were full of Clemson Tigers, the count was 3-1, and his club held a 6-5 lead in the top of the sixth.
Sentlinger fired a fastball and left it over the plate, and Grice, who is likely to be selected in the first 100 picks of July’s Major League Baseball Draft, launched it into the evening sky where it carried over the right field fence for a grand slam.
It was the exclamation point on a seven-run sixth inning that saw 11 Clemson Tigers come to bat, 10 reach base, and seven cross the plate, a frame that propelled Clemson past Virginia Tech 14-5 in Wednesday’s nightcap at the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The win was the 13th straight for Clemson, which has won 18 of its last 19 games.
All seven runs in the inning came following a two-out error by Virginia Tech left fielder Jack Hurley when he misplayed. Jacob Jarrell hit a pop fly to shallow left field, and Hurley and shortstop David Bryant went after it. Hurley waved off Bryant and dove for the ball and missed it, the pill caroming off his glove to the turf, allowing Jarrell to reach base and two runs to score.
In all, Clemson mustered 14 hits, including three each by Riley Bertram and Billy Amick and a pair by Grice in the victory.
Virginia Tech starter Drue Hackenberg went 5.2 innings, allowing seven runs, three of them earned, on seven hits and one walk. The Hokies fell to 30-23 on the season and currently rank 44th in the NCAA Division I RPI rankings and could potentially receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, which starts next week.
Clemson will play Boston College at 11 a.m. Friday with a trip to Saturday’s semifinals on the line.
Pitt 9, Notre Dame 5 – The fireworks started before noon for the Pitt Panthers in the first game at the ACC Baseball Championship Wednesday.
Third baseman Sky Duff led off the game for Pitt (23-30) with a home run to right center on the fourth pitch of the game, and four other Panthers provided prodigious pops as Pitt topped Notre Dame 9-5 at Durham Athletic Park. Duff had three of the Panthers 13 hits, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.
“Really, I was just trying to get our offense off to a good start,” Duff said. “I got a good pitch to hit.”
Pitt second sacker Justin Acal led off the second with a solo homer of his own to make it 3-0, first baseman Noah Martinez hit a three-run shot in the fourth, Kyle Hess and Dom Popa each hit solo home runs in the seventh. Seven of the Panthers’ runs came via the long ball, while and RBI single in the first inning by Jack Anderson and a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by Acal plated Pitt’s other two runs.
“The difference in the baseball game was that they hit home runs and we hit into double plays,” said Notre Dame head coach Shawn Stiffler. “We couldn’t keep them in the ballpark. We kept getting traffic… but we hit into four double plays.”
Notre Dame starter Aidan Tyrell, who posted a 2.74 ERA over 15 games for the Fighting Irish this season, was pegged with the loss, going four innings and allowing six runs, all earned, on eight hits. The Fighting Irish mustered 15 hits but only five runs, hitting into four double plays, including two that ended innings.
“Wake Forest is a great team, and we know that, but we also know that we can play with them,” Duff said of Pitt’s opponent tomorrow.
Pitt will face Wake Forest, the No. 1 team in the D1Baseball.com NCAA Division I rankings, Thursday at 11 a.m. EDT. A win would put the Panthers in the semifinal Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame will face Wake Forest at 7 p.m. EDT Friday evening.
Virginia 15, Georgia Tech 1 (7 Inn.) – Kyle Teel showed why he’s the No. 15 draft prospect according to MLB.com, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer, a double and two RBI, as Virginia laughed their way to a 15-1 win against Georgia Tech that was cut short by the mercy rule.
The Cavaliers (44-11) took the lead in the top of the second when Teel scored from second on an error by Georgia Tech shortstop Jadyn Jackson. They’d put the game away in the fourth when Teel hit a solo homer to lead off the inning.
Virginia would add eight runs in the fifth, an inning that saw 11 Cavaliers come to the plate, another run in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Georgia Tech’s lone marker came in the bottom of the seventh when Angelo Dispigna homered to right field, his 16th homer of the season.
Nick Parker threw all seven innings for Virginia, surrendering one run on four hits, walking one and striking out five.
Georgia Tech finished the season 30-27 after going 0-2 in the ACC Championship and losing to Virginia four times in less than a week after the Cavaliers swept the Yellow Jackets in the final series of the regular season.
Virginia will face defending ACC champion North Carolina Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s semifinals.
NOTEBOOK – Pitt’s five homers in the early game were two short of the record of seven for an ACC Baseball Championship game, set by Louisville versus Clemson at Charlotte, North Carolina in 2021.
Tomorrow at the ACC Baseball Championship
11 a.m. – (1)Wake Forest vs. (12)Pittsburgh (Pool A)
3 p.m. – (7)North Carolina vs. (2)Virginia (Pool B)
7 p.m. – (4)Miami vs. (9)N.C. State (Pool D)
All games during pool play and both semifinals will be carried on the ACC Network. Each game will air live on Sirius XM ACC Radio channel 371. The ACC Championship Game will be carried live on ESPN2 Sunday at Noon EDT.