Clemson comeback falls short against Miami in ACC Baseball Tournament

Talk about a game of inches.

With the Clemson baseball team down to its last out in the Tigers’ ACC Tournament opener against 11th-seeded Miami Thursday, Tristan Bissetta’s deep drive to left field had all the makings of a go-ahead two-run home run.

Instead, Miami’s Edgardo Villegas snagged it from the top of the wall and the Hurricanes held on for an 8-7 victory over the second-seeded Tigers at Truist Field in Charlotte.

Miami starter Gabe Ziehl battled through six quality innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. Ziehl (5-3) walked three and struck out four to notch his second win of the year against the Tigers.

The Hurricanes used a five-run second inning against Clemson starter Ethan Darden that ultimately propelled them to their second tournament win this week after beating Louisville on Tuesday.

The big blow in the inning was a three-run home run from shortstop Antonio Jimenez that came after the first two Miami batters reached base. Jimenez’s home run was only his second of the season.

Darden (5-4) left after recording just four outs against 11 batters faced. He was charged with six runs (five earned) on five hits — two doubles, two singles and the Jimenez homer.

Clemson never led in Thursday’s contest, save for a brief 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the second inning. The Tigers trailed 6-2 after Miami’s second-inning outburst and were down 7-3 before they began chipping away against the Hurricanes’ bullpen.

Jarren Purify doubled and scored off reliever Nick Robert to cut the lead to 7-4 in the seventh. In the eighth, Clemson made it a one-run game after three straight extra base hits opened the inning. Cam Cannarella led off with a triple, and back-to-back RBI doubles from Jimmy Obertop and Bissetta closed the gap to 7-6.

The Tigers had runners on base with less than two out, but hard-throwing Miami reliever Myles Caba escaped trouble. He retired Purify on a popup for the second out. Alden Mathes just missed a double down the left field line that could have given Clemson the lead. With his next pitch, Caba struck out Mathes on a 95 mph fastball to strand both runners.

The Hurricanes added a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when pinch-hitter Jake Kulikowski smashed a solo home run to right off Matthew Marchal for an 8-6 lead.

With the heart of the order due up for Clemson in the ninth, Jacob Hinderleider led off with his 13th home run of the year on a 92 mph fastball to dead center to make it a one-run game at 8-7.

Blake Wright walked to put the tying run on base before Caba got Cannarella on a popup for the first out. Obertop reached on a fielder’s choice for the second out, narrowly managing to avoid a 5-4-3 double play.

That left it up to Bissetta, whose drive forced Villegas to leap up against the wall and make a sensational catch. Clemson coach Erik Bakich challenged the catch, but the play was upheld on review.

“Heck of a catch,” Bakich said afterwards.

Miami outhit Clemson 12-11 and left six runners on base. The Tigers stranded eight. Hinderleider (2-for-4), Cannarella (2-5), Obertop (2-4) and Purify (2-4) all had two hits apiece.

Clemson fell to 40-14 overall while Miami improved to 27-29 overall.

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Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire