Gossett, Wilkerson Guide Tigers Past Hurricanes To Earn Leggett Milestone Victory


Clemson found themselves in a familiar place Thursday night — in an early hole. Miami notched 2 runs off of Clemson starter Daniel Gossett in the third inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead, but the Tigers, as has been their mantra of late, never quit. They held the Hurricanes scoreless the rest of the way, and Steve Wilkerson delivered a single to drive home Tyler Slaton in the bottom of the ninth to win the game for the Tigers 3-2.

The win was a historic one, as it gave Jack Leggett 1,300 career victories, one of only nine men to accomplish that feat. There can’t be a much more fitting way to reach the milestone than with a walk off win.

“I guess if you’re going to have a milestone game, that would be the best way you’d want to win,” said Leggett. “That will be one I’ll remember for a long time.”

After falling behind in the top of the third, Clemson responded with an important run in the bottom half of the inning on a Jay Baum groundout to cut the Miami lead to 2-1. Baum later made a spectacular play up the middle in the top of the sixth. On a hard hit ball back through the box, Baum ranged to his left. The ball collided with the second base bag, popping up in the air, where Baum grabbed it, twirled, and threw the runner out at first with the help of a nice pick by McGibbon. Then, in the home half of the inning, McGibbon led off with a towering shot to right field that cleared the fence and tied the game up at 2.

“I was just trying to be there for my guys, whatever they needed,” McGibbon said after the game. “Coach Leggett called my number, I saw a couple pitches, and he laid one right down the middle and I was able to hit the home run and tie it up.”

One of the guys McGibbon was trying to be there for was starter Daniel Gossett, who certainly came to play for his teammates Thursday night. Despite a 1-2-3 first inning, Gossett was up in the zone and hit hard early on. The third inning saw Gossett unravel a little bit, serving up two singles before a bunt towards third base loaded the bases with no outs. After getting a strikeout, Gossett plunked Zack Collins to bring home the first run, and then threw a wild pitch to push the Miami league to 2-0. It was lights out from there on out. Gossett finished the night with 8.1 innings pitched, allowing two runs on seven  hits while walking two and striking out eight. Perhaps his best pitch of the night was his last, as Gossett broke off a wicked curveball that Jacob Heyward swung through.

Gossett gave way to Clay Bates in the ninth, who recorded one out before being replaced by Zack Erwin. Erwin, unable to retire the only batter he faced, walking him, was taken out in favor of Drew Moyer, who induced an inning ending ground ball to end the top half of the frame.

The Tigers had the top of the order come to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, with Tyler Slaton starting the rally with a leadoff walk. After a Tyler Krieger fly out, Steven Duggar singled to put runners on first and second with one away. That’s when Wilkerson stepped to the plate. The senior laced a ball through the right side of the infield, and Slaton flew around third to cross home plate for the winning run.

Clemson (36-22) improved to 2-0 in the ACC Tournament while top seeded Miami (40-18) fell to a surprising 0-2. With a win Friday afternoon over Georgia Tech, the Tigers will secure a berth in Sunday’s Championship Game. Despite the emotional victory, Clemson knows there is still work to be done.

“This one will fade away quickly if we don’t take care of our business tomorrow,” stated Leggett.

“It was a great game to have that 1,300th win with these guys. They have been a part of many of them, and for Steve to get the big hit, Jon to get the big hit, and ‘Goose’ to pitch like he did, it was an awesome evening for us.”

It certainly was.