Clemson’s latest Atlantic Coast Conference title was worth the wait – a decade to get back to the final, then all day Sunday to finally finish the game.
The Tigers won their first ACC Tournament title since 2006, beating Florida State 18-13 in a game delayed three times by rain.
Chase Pinder and Chris Okey had four RBIs apiece while Eli White drove in three for the sixth-seeded Tigers (42-18), who let much of a 17-run lead slip away after scoring at least three runs in each of the first four innings.
Clemson led 18-1 before the fourth-seeded Seminoles (37-20) got their first hit.
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The Tigers did enough to win their ninth straight, claim the ACC’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid, earn the right to host a regional and strengthen their case for one of the top eight national seeds.
First year coach Monte Lee said the Tigers “absolutely deserve to be a national seed.”
Okey pointed to a preseason poll that he felt disrespected the team.
“We all kind of took that to heart and remembered it,” Okey said. “Look at us today. That proves that the beginning-of-the-year predictions don’t mean anything. … We’re never out of it.”
Dylan Busby homered twice, including a two-run shot that capped an eight-run eighth for Florida State. Tyler Holton also homered for the Seminoles.
They set the dubious championship game record for most runs scored by a losing team and committed four errors on a sloppy, rainy day that included a delayed start and three in-game stoppages for a total of nearly five hours in rain delays.
“Having had the pleasure of working at this job for a few years, I don’t think I’ve ever been behind 18-1,” veteran Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “But I also don’t think I ever been around a club that refused to throw the towel in.”
Those miscues added up to seven unearned runs allowed. Losing pitcher Ed Voyles (1-2) allowed six runs, but only one was earned.
Alex Bostic (4-2) struck out eight in four innings of relief to earn the win for the Tigers, who had the third-most runs in an ACC championship game and their most this season since a 19-2 win over Maine in the third game of the year. Clemson had scored a total of 15 runs in its three wins in pool play.
The only ACC teams to score more in a title game were Clemson in 1991 (24) and Wake Forest in 1977 (22).
Those ‘91 Tigers also were the last from the school to go undefeated at an ACC Tournament until this group did it, rolling through pool play with a 3-0 record before jumping on the Seminoles early and making it stand.
After the day’s third rain delay, Clemson closer Pat Krall allowed only a two-out single to seal it.
“We knew that we had about three outs left at the end to go out and win an ACC title,” Okey said.
Pinder broke the game open during the Tigers’ five-run third, hitting a bases-loaded triple to right-center that made it 11-1.
Cal Raleigh finished with two RBIs for the Seminoles.
Aside from all the runs scored by both teams, this one will be remembered for all the delays.
The start time was moved up two hours to 10 a.m. in an effort to beat the rain, then was pushed back an hour.
The game was delayed 13 minutes after the first inning due to rain, and more showers came in the top of the third, leading to a delay of 2 hours, 41 minutes. Play was stopped again after the eighth inning for 1 hour, 54 minutes due to lightning and more rain.
“I feel like we played a tripleheader,” Martin quipped.