As the 12th and final seed, Clemson snuck into the ACC Baseball Tournament by the smartest of margins.
Once there, however, the Tigers lost by a considerable margin.
no. 8 seed North Carolina (35-19) turned in a dominant effort in knocking off Clemson (35-22) 9-2 Tuesday night to cap the opening day of play at the 2022 ACC Baseball Tournament at Truist Field in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The loss dealt a serious blow to Clemson’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The Tigers will have another chance to boost their postseason resume when they face top-seeded Virginia Tech (40-11) in their second Pool A game on Thursday at 7 pm
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Clemson, which did not face North Carolina during the regular season, leads the all-time series against the Tar Heels by a 102-96-1 margin, including a 16-14 advantage in ACC Tournament play, but North Carolina was clearly the better team Tuesday.
Both teams entered the tournament having finished the regular season with a flourish. Clemson went 7-2 in its last nine ACC games, including three-game sweeps of Georgia Tech and Boston College.
North Carolina won 11 of its last 13 games, including a sweep of Florida State, and kept that momentum going against the Tigers.
Things came unraveled rather quickly for Clemson as North Carolina scored at least one run in each of the first five innings.
After spotting the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead in the first on Danny Serretti’s RBI single, Clemson tied it in the second when Blake Wright reached on a fielder’s choice, took third on Tyler Corbitt’s single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryar Hawkins.
But it was all Tar Heels from there. North Carolina regained the lead, 3-1, in the bottom of the second when Hunter Stokely singled, Angel Zarate walked and both scored on Mac Horvath’s fly ball to deep left was misplayed for an error by Clemson’s Tyler Corbitt.
Mikey Madej’s solo home run pushed the Tar Heels’ lead to 4-1 in the third, then North Carolina added three runs in the fourth – highlighted by Vance Honeycutt’s two-run single – for a 7-1 advantage and the Tar Heels coasted from there.
North Carolina starter Max Carlson (2-2) scattered six hits over six innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out four.
Clemson starter Mack Anglin (6-6) lasted just four innings, surrendering seven hits and five earned runs. He walked four and struck out four.
Clemson’s Max Wagner, who on Monday was named ACC Player of the Year, went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.