CLEMSON, S.C. – Alex Eubanks pitched effectively into the eighth inning and 15th-ranked Clemson scored four times in the fifth and withstood a late rally to down Southern Conference champion UNCG 5-4 Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in the NCAA Clemson Regional. Cesar Trejo homered twice for the Spartans, who also got a round-tripper from Caleb Webster.
The Spartans (35-23) will face No. 23 St. John's in an elimination contest Saturday at noon. Clemson (40-19) will take on Vanderbilt, a 13-4 winner over the Red Storm earlier Friday, on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Trejo's second home run of the day led off the ninth inning and pulled UNCG within a run at 5-4. One out later, Ryne Sigmon singled to shortstop, but Pat Krall, the third Clemson hurler of the day, got a groundout and a soft liner to end the game and pick up his first save of the season.
Up 1-0 after SoCon Freshman of the Year Webster's fourth-inning solo home run to left, the first of his career, UNCG fell victim to a big Clemson fifth and could not fully recover.
Logan Davidson stroked a one-out single up the middle, followed by a Reed Rohlman walk. Chase Pinder then hit a grounder to first baseman Michael Goss, who ranged slightly to his right to tag out Rohlman, but UNCG pitcher Bryce Hensley failed to cover the bag and Goss lost the foot race to Pinder in his attempt at the inning-ending double play.
The Spartans intentionally walked Seth Beer for the third time on the day to load the bases, and Weston Jackson made the strategy backfire with his two-run single to right field. A wild pitch advanced Jackson to second, and second baseman Austin Embler couldn't come up with Andrew Cox's slow dribbler, allowing two more runs to score and knocking Hensley from the game.
UNCG got a run back on Trejo's deep bomb to left center to lead off the top of the seventh and pulled within a run on Goss' RBI single in the top of the eighth. Andrew Moritz singled to left center with two outs in the eighth to knock Eubanks from the game, and Goss greeted reliever Ryley Gilliam with a single to center to bring in Moritz to make it 4-3.
The Tigers got that run back in the bottom of the frame, as Davidson sent the second pitch he saw from reliever Andrew Wantz to center to plate Jordan Greene with Clemson's fifth run of the contest. UNCG got out of the inning when catcher Ryan Clinch gunned down Davidson trying to steal second.
Clemson stranded eight runners in the contest, including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the first.
Mortiz, Goss, Trejo and Sigmon each went 2-for-4 to pace UNCG at the plate, while Davidson was 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored for Clemson.
Eubanks (7-5) picked up the win with 7 2/3 solid innings, as he was charged with three runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out five.
Hensley fell to 7-8 after surrendering four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings of work. Jack Maynard struck out five in three innings, allowing an unearned run.