Billikens Fall to No. 17 Clemson in NCAA Tourney
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 17 Clemson launched three home runs en route to a 10-2 victory against Saint Louis Saturday afternoon in an elimination game in the Columbia Regional at Carolina Stadium.
Saint Louis ends its season with a 41-21 record, tying the school-record for victories. Clemson advances to play tomorrow against the loser of tonight’s South Carolina/Liberty matchup.
Senior right fielder Alex Kelly led the Billiken offense with a 3-for-4 day at the plate with a home run. Senior catcher Grant Nelson had two hits, while freshman left fielder Michael Bozarth and senior second baseman Mike Levine had a hit apiece.
The Billikens opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first. Bozarth walked, then advanced to third on a double by Kelly. Bozarth trotted home on a Vigliarolo sacrifice fly, his second RBI of the regional, and the Billikens led 1-0 after one.
That remained the score until the third, when Clemson would start a rally by scoring six unanswered runs, all of them coming by way of the long ball. Clemson’s Steve Wilkerson launched a two-run shot to right, and Shane Kennedy followed suit later in the inning with a solo homer to left center to give the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish.
Clemson tacked on three more runs in the fourth on a three-run homer by Wilkerson.
Meanwhile, the Billikens put runners on base but were unable to push them across the plate. SLU stranded two runners in the second, third and fourth innings. Overall, each team left eight runners on the base paths.
Down 6-1, Kelly launched his team-leading 12th home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth, but that is as close as the Billikens would get to mounting a comeback. The Tigers scored once in the eighth and three more in the ninth to account for the 10-2 final.
SLU started Nick Bates was tagged with the loss, while Clemson’s Daniel Gossett picked up the win on the mound. Billiken freshman Matt Eckelman was effective in relief, allowing one unearned run on three hits in four innings of work. He sat down 12 Tigers in a row at one point.