By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
UNC Charlotte is one win away from a trip to an NCAA Super Regional, after defeating No. 4-ranked Clemson 3-2 on Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina.
The Clemson Tigers were quickly on the board in the top of the first inning as Caden Grace belted a solo home run over the right field wall for the game’s first run. The left-handed pitcher and first baseman hit 17 dingers during the regular season.
UNC Charlotte got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from outfielder Cam Fisher to cut the Clemson lead to 2-1.
Clemson extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the second inning on a throwing error from UNC Charlotte’s first baseman Spencer Nolan. Clemson started the inning with two consecutive singles from Riley Bertram and Blake Wright. Wright’s single moved Bertram to third base, and an errant throw on a ground ball to Nolan allowed Bertram to slide home safely from third base.
The 49ers pitching staff would shut down Clemson from that point on. Cameron Hansen, Donye Evans, and Paxton Thompson combined to strike out 13 Clemson hitters, and walked just one.
UNC Charlotte took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh and held on for the win. Will Butcher, who hit nine home runs during the regular season for the 49ers, tied the game at 2 with a clutch solo home run. One batter later, Spencer Nolan reached base on a throwing error from Clemson shortstop Benjamin Blackwell. Blackwell’s error came back to bite Clemson when Jack Dragum would hit an RBI single to bring home Nolan and give Charlotte a 3-2 lead.
The Clemson Tigers couldn’t mount a comeback in the top of the ninth, and were eliminated from the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.
UNC Charlotte fell to Tennessee 9-2 in the Clemson Regional Final and moved on to the Super Regionals. Tennessee defeated Charlotte 8-1 on Friday.