Clemson, SC (Greenville Online) Some might call it “The Night of the Jacksons.”
Monte Lee simply called it perfection. Both would be fitting descriptions.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time, and I think that’s the best baseball game I’ve ever seen,” Lee said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team play that well. You have to look at that pitching performance, first and foremost.”
Tyler Jackson, a Wren High product and a graduate transfer from USC Upstate, shined in his biggest game on a big stage, tossing a complete-game, two-hit shutout in powering Clemson to a 6-0 victory against Vanderbilt that wasn’t finished until early Monday morning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
The victory enabled the Tigers to stave off elimination and kept them alive in the NCAA Clemson Regional. Clemson and Vanderbilt will play again Monday at 4 p.m. in a winner-take-all regional final.
Monday’s winner will advance to face Oregon State in the Corvallis, Ore., Super Regional beginning Friday.
Earlier Sunday, Clemson eliminated UNCG by a 6-3 score in a game that was delayed twice by rain and didn’t begin until just before 6 p.m.
In the nightcap, which began a few minutes before 10 p.m., Jackson allowed only two hits – singles in the fourth and eighth innings. In between, Jackson retired 14 batters in a row and maintained near-perfect control while working his fastball effectively both inside and out.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Jackson said. “I just went out and gave it everything I had. I played it like it might be the last game I ever play.”
It worked. Jackson pitched a complete game for the first time in a Clemson uniform and the first time since doing likewise against The Citadel while at USC Upstate last season.
“I didn’t really throw too much off-speed,” said Jackson, who improved to 9-1 this season, most of which he spent as the Tigers’ designated mid-week starter. “I just threw a lot of fastball and worked both sides of the plate.”
Tyler was far from the only Jackson to star Sunday night. Eastside High product Weston Jackson drove in three runs with three hits, including a solo homer in the sixth that pushed Clemson’s lead to 2-0.
The Tigers turned in several sterling defensive plays, including a diving catch and an over-the-wall snag by Reed Rohlman in left field and some highlight-reel wizardry by Jordan Greene at second base.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better game defensively,” Lee said. “We made a lot of not only good plays, but great plays. And then we had some big-time hits.”
That added up to Clemson’s 29th victory in 39 home games and pushed the Tigers to 42-20 overall. Vanderbilt slipped to 35-23-1.