Despite picking up 11 free passes in their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Clemson baseball team fell to the Tar Heels 5-4, dropping their second straight ACC series to open conference play.
The Tigers and Tar Heels both went down in order in the first inning. Olenchuk became the first Clemson pitcher to do so in the series.
Caden Grice started a Tiger rally with his one-out walk in the second inning. Designated hitter Regan Reid moved Grice over to third base on his single into right field. Carlson allowed Grice to score the first run of the game with a throwing error on an attempted pick off at first base; Reid moved up to second base. The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs after third baseman Blake Wright and center fielder Bryce Teodosio both walked. Carlson did not bow to the pressure, striking out Kier Meredith to all three runners stranded.
Olenchuk did have the same second innings blues as Carlson, again retiring North Carolina in order.
The Tigers in the third were unable to scratch across a run, despite James Parker’s two out double. Grice ended the inning with a deep fly ball just short of the warning track in center field.
Olenchuk allowed his first base runner of the game with two outs in the bottom of the third. Blake Wright could not handle a hard hit ball by Tar Heels’ second baseman Johnny Castagnozzi bounced off his chest and into left field. The at-bat was ruled a hit. North Carolina left fielder Angel Zarate doubled into the right field corner putting two in scoring position for the Heels with two downs. Olenchuk stranded both with a ground ball to shortstop that ended the inning.
While Tigers refused to go down in order in the fourth, they only sent three batters to the plate. Regan Reid walked to lead off the inning, but was thrown out easily by Tar Heels’ catcher Tomas Frick.
The fourth inning saw the end of Olenchuk’s dominant performance. North Carolina right fielder Caleb Roberts led off the inning with a home run that was initially ruled foul. After a lengthy review, the call was overturned, much to the delight of the crowd in Chapel Hill. After allowing a single and a walk, Olenchuk gave up his second home run of the inning off the bat of Inclan. Designated hitter Will Stewart went back-to-back with Inclan, pushing the Tar Heel lead to four runs.
After Frick singled off the wall in center, assistant coach Andrew See made his second trip to the mound to pull Olenchuk from the game. Olenchuk faced six batters in the fourth inning without recording an out. Left handed pitcher Mat Clark came on pitch for the Tigers. The southpaw retired the next two batters. Then Justice Thompson singled to third base, Blake Wright stopped the ball, but was unable to throw out Thompson from his knees. Clark rebounded against Roberts, taking his second at-bat of the inning, striking the freshman out to retire the side. After all was said and done, the Tar Heels sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, picking up six hits and five runs.
Bryce Teodosio started a Tiger rally when Carlson’s first pitch in the fifth inning grazed the center fielder’s helmet. Henderson singled and Brewer walked to load the bases for the Tigers. Carlson exited the game with the bases loaded in the fifth. The Tar Heels still held the 5-1 lead when he exited. Right handed pitcher Nik Pry came on to face James Parker and walked the Tigers’ shortstop, driving in a run.
Pry exited after facing just Parker with the left handed, power-hitting Grice coming to the plate. The Tar Heels opted for left handed pitcher Nick James. After falling behind to James 0-2, Grice drew a walk after James refused to throw the ball over the plate again, driving in another run. Cooper Ingle, still looking for his first hit, drew a four-ball walk, cutting the Tar Heel lead to just one run with two outs in the inning. Right handed pitcher Joey Lancellotti, who came on to pitch after Grice’s at-bat, recorded the final two outs of the inning, putting the bats back in the Tar Heels’ hands.
Clark faced four batters in the fifth inning, fanning two and giving up one hit, a single into left field.
Lancelotti retired the Tigers in order in the sixth inning, the first time a Tar Heel pitcher had managed the feat since the first inning.
The Tigers’ junior southpaw sat the Heels down in order in the bottom of the seventh inning, fanning two more on his way to a 12-pitch inning.
Despite James Parker walking and Caden Grice singling with one out, the Tigers were unable to scratch a run across. Lancellotti retired Reid and Ingle unassisted, striking out the former and tagging out the latter, keeping the one run lead intact heading to the bottom of the inning.
After a lead off single by Justice Thompson, Clark forced a fly out to Henderson at second base for the first out of the seventh inning. As Centracchio swung through strike three, Thompson broke for second. Ingle’s throw was right on target, and Parker applied the tag for the final out of the inning.
Blake Wright walked to open up the Tigers’ half of the eighth inning. After failing to bunt twice, Bryce Teodosio struck out swinging, failing to advance Wright. North Carolina switched pitchers to the left handed Caden O’Brien to face left handed hitting Kier Meredith and the top of the Tigers’ order. However, O’Brien threw just one pitch after taking the mound, getting a ground ball to first base. Danny Serretti applied the tag to Brewer at second base to complete the double play and end the inning.
Once again Clark trotted out to the mound for the eighth inning, recording a fly out to his first batter. But after running a 1-2 fastball too far inside, Clark hit Inclan. See walked to the mound to retrieve his left handed pitcher, calling on right handed transfer Rasesh Pandya. The Wofford transfer induced a pop out in foul territory for the second out of the inning. But after giving up a single and a walk to load the bases, See made his second trip to the mound of the inning, this time calling on left handed closer Geoffrey Gilbert to face the left handed hitting Angel Zarate. Gilbert caught Zarate looking on a 1-2 fastball, stranding three runners on base and sending the Tigers back to bat down one run with one frame left to be played.
O’Brien made quick work of the Tigers in the ninth inning, picking up two strikeouts, and retiring the Tigers in order.
Olenchuk received the loss for his work on the mound.It was his second loss of the year. Lancellotti’s three innings earned him the game’s win and O’Brien recorded his first save of the season for 1 ⅔ innings on the bump.
The Tigers look to avoid their first three game sweep of the season as they return to the diamond to play the Tar Heels tomorrow at 1 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C. Clemson has not released their starter for the game, while right handed redshirt freshman Max Alba will be on the mound for the Tar Heels.