Caden Grice of the Clemson Tigers throws a pitch against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first inning during the semifinals of the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on May 27, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
DURHAM, N.C.- Light rain buffeted Durham Bulls Athletic Park Saturday, but that was no matter to the Clemson Tigers.
Caden Grice, Clemson’s two-way threat, allowed three runs on four hits in seven innings on the mound, and contributed a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning and the Tigers rolled to a 10-4 win over North Carolina to earn a spot in the ACC Championship Game.
“The start we got from Caden Grice, a quality start, seven innings, really kept a very good team, a very good offense to just some solo runs here and there,” said Clemson head coach Erik Bakich.
Just as the rain began to intensify, Grice ripped a double to the right field corner, scoring Cooper Ingle and Will Taylor, who reached on successive one-out singles
Grice’s road roommate, Billy Amick, hammered Connor Bovair’s 1-2 offering off the ‘Hit Bull Win Steak’ sign over the left field wall for a two-run homer and a 4-0 Clemson lead.
“I’m just trying to go up there and do my job,” Amick said following the game. He went 2-for-5 with 4 RBI, a triple and the home run. “That’s what this team is all about, just doing our job, you know, just scoring runs and winning the ballgame.”
Riley Bertram then took a fastball from Bovair to the opposite field for a solo homer and a 5-0 lead.
The Tar Heels got on the board in the top of the second inning on Hunter Stokely’s RBI double that scored Johnny Castagnozzi.
Back at the plate in the bottom of the second, Amick ripped a two-run double off the center field wall to score Taylor and Ingle, giving Clemson a 7-1 lead. Ingle had an RBI single of his own in the third to make it 8-1 for the Tigers.
North Carolina’s Alberto Osuna hit a solo homer that barely cleared the right field wall in the top of the fifth to make it an 8-2 ballgame.
Tomas Frick hit solo homers in the sixth and the ninth for UNC, but it was too little, too late.
As dominating as the Clemson win was, it could have been even more lopsided – the Tigers left 15 on base.
“Obviously we walked too many and when you get behind against a team that’s that hot, you’ve got your work cut out for you,” said North Carolina coach Scott Forbes. “But, I was proud of how our guys kept playing. You have to tip your hat to Clemson. They’re playing extremely well.”
Clemson will face the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Championship Game at noon Sunday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Miami 7, Wake Forest 2 – Yohandy Morales went 3-for-4 with an RBI single, a solo home run, a walk, and two runs scored to propel the Miami Hurricanes into the ACC Championship Game with 7-2 win against No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Wake Forest.
The game was played at the University of North Carolina Boshamer Field to try and get both semifinals completed as a light but steady rain hit the Raleigh/Durham area.
Blake Cyr contributed an RBI double in the seventh inning for Miami and Alejandro Rosario went 4.2 innings in relief, striking out three and allowing four hits and two walks, but just one run to earn the win for the Hurricanes.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology – NCAA Regional host sites will be announced Sunday, and the full field for the 2023 NCAA Baseball Tournament will be announced on Monday.
D1Baseball.com’s May 27 projection of the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament had eight ACC teams – the four that advanced to the semifinals, plus Virginia, Boston College, Duke, and N.C. State – making the field, with Wake Forest, Miami, Clemson, Boston College, and Virginia hosting regionals. Duke was projected to play in a regional in Auburn, Ala., hosted by Auburn; N.C. State was forecasted to play in Conway, S.C. with Coastal Carolina, and North Carolina was eyed to play in Nashville, Tenn. in a regional hosted by Vanderbilt.
“Our conference is very, very deep. I’ve always said this about our conference,” said Miami head coach Gino DiBare after the Hurricanes’ win against N.C. State. He referenced 2015, when Virginia had to win a play-in game to get into the ACC Championship, won the conference title and went on to win the College World Series. “Ever since then, I’ve always said that to people, recruits, whoever it may be, our conference is very, very deep.”
The projection had Notre Dame, which lost to Wake Forest in the final game of pool play Friday night, as the first team outside the field of 64.
NOTEBOOK – Asked after the game if he had collected his steak, Billy Amick smiled and said, “No, but that would be nice!” … Clemson catcher Cooper Ingle left the game after hitting a single in the third inning. Earlier in the at-bat, he fouled a ball off his knee. Bakich said that he was icing the joint but wouldn’t know until Sunday whether or not he could play in the championship game.