In a game pitting the two teams leading the ACC Atlantic division, the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles dropped a 9-3 contest in South Carolina on Friday night to the No. 13 Clemson Tigers.
Clemson opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on a line drive off Seminole starter Luke Weaver. Weaver remained in the game, and, perhaps a bit rattled after taking one off his backside, surrendered a second run when he was called for a balk on a pick-off attempt. The ‘Noles ended the frame trailing 2-0.
Tigers catcher Garrett Boulware extended the Tiger lead to 3-0 on a long ball to straight-away center in the third. Promising freshman CF Ben DeLuzio pursued the ball and prepared to make a leaping attempt to snag it before it went over the fence, but his feet got tied up, and he careened into the wall. After some attention from Florida State trainers, he remained in the game before D.J. Stewart took over in center field in the bottom of the fourth. Jameis Winston entered the game and played left field.
John Sansone started things off for the Seminoles in the fifth inning, knocking a double into the gap in right-center field. Winston’s single up the middle drove him home to make the score 3-1. The Heisman Trophy winner advanced to second on the throw home, and the ‘Noles had the tying run aboard with nobody down after Danny De La Calle was hit by a pitch. But Clemson starter Daniel Gossett bounced back, striking out Casey Smit and Justin Gonzalez before D.J. Stewart popped out.
Clemson struck back in the bottom of the inning. After a two-out double by Tyler Slaton, a Tyler Krieger bloop to left field dropped just in front of Winston, who appeared unsure of whether or not to dive for the ball and wound up executing something in between. The ball glanced off Winston and went for a double to increase the Tiger margin to 4-1. A seeing-eye single from Boulware made it 5-1. Steven Duggar and Chris Okey followed with a solid singles to right, and Clemson led 6-1.
FSU had another scoring opportunity in the top of the sixth, after Gossett issued a pair of two-out walks, but Winston’s swinging bunt in front of home plate was fielded cleanly and the five-run spread remained.
The Tigers added three more off ‘Nole reliever Taylor Blatch in the eighth, the last two of which resulted when a fly ball skipped off the end of a diving Winston’s glove. The score was 9-1 heading to the ninth.
Gossett retired the first batter in the eighth before being relieved by Clay Bates, who took care of the two Seminoles he faced in the inning. He fell into a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the top of the ninth, and Casey Smit made it 9-3 with a two-RBI single that scored Sansone and Winston. Clemson went to Matt Campbell with two aboard, and he struck out Justin Gonzalez before retiring D.J. Stewart to wrap things up.
Gossett pitched masterfully for Clemson, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out eight in 7.1 innings. Weaver wasn’t at his best for the Seminoles, struggling against the Tigers’ aggressive approach. His final line: six runs on 11 hits in seven innings.
This is the second time in as many games that the ‘Noles have struggled offensively, as they dropped a 3-1 contest against the Florida Gators on Tuesday. Florida State has lost two straight for the first time this season and is now 17-4 overall with a 5-2 record in the ACC. Clemson has a 14-7 record and is 6-1 in conference play. The two teams meet again for a double-header on Saturday to close out the series. Game one will start at 2 pm, and game two begins at 6 pm.