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Bissetta, Obertop home runs help Clemson even series with Duke

Tristan Smith struck out a career-high 10 batters in six solid innings, Tristan Bissetta hit a clutch grand slam, and No. 9 Clemson edged No. 7 Duke, 8-7, Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field in Durham.

The Tigers (16-2 overall, 1-1 ACC) needed all the offense it could get.

Jimmy Obertop’s three-run home run in the fifth inning off Blue Devils reliever Edward Hart gave Clemson a 4-2 lead midway through.

In the seventh, Bissetta notched his first career grand slam — the only hit in the Tigers’ half of the inning — with one out off Josh Allen, who’d previously loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batsman.

The Blue Devils (15-4, 3-2) answered with five runs of their own against left-hander Ethan Darden in the seventh to pull to within a run. Lucas Mahlstedt took over for Darden and closed out the seventh with back to back strikeouts of Devin Obee and Mason Winslow.

Mahlstedt struck out three of the four batters he faced in the seventh after the first six Duke hitters reached base against Darden. The junior right-hander then worked a scoreless eighth inning before Rob Hughes closed out the game in ninth.

Hughes pitched out of trouble to strand the potential tying and winning runs on base for his second save. Hughes has yet to allow a run in six appearances this season.

Duke out-hit the Tigers, 11-7. Blake Wright drove in Clemson’s only other run with an RBI fielder’s choice in the first inning off starter Andrew Healy. Healy pitched just one inning as the Blue Devils used nine different pitchers in Saturday’s game.

Gabriel Nard (0-1) suffered the loss for Duke after allowing two men to reach base in the fifth before Obertop’s home run — his third of the season.

Smith (2-0) was sensational in his fifth start for Clemson. In addition to his 10 strikeouts, the southpaw yielded only one earned run on four hits. He walked two and threw 102 pitches.

The rubber match of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT Sunday. Freshman right-hander Aiden Knaak (1-0, 4.05 ERA) will make his fifth start for Clemson. Duke has yet to announce its Sunday starter. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire