Tyler Jackson tossed a complete-game shutout against Vanderbilt to keep No. 19 Clemson’s season alive in 6-0 victory Sunday.
A day after losing 9-4 to the Commodores, the Tigers forced a decisive regional showdown Monday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU, with the winner moving on to face top national seed Oregon State in Corvallis.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time. This is the best baseball game I think I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes,” Clemson coach Monte Lee said after the game ended early Monday morning. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team play that well. You look at the pitching performance by Tyler Jackson, how we played defensively ... we played extremely well. And we had some big-time hits.”
Clemson (42-20) knocked off UNCG 6-3 in an elimination game earlier in the day after a weather delay that lasted four hours and 50 minutes.
Jackson, Clemson’s midweek starter who began his career at South Carolina and transferred to USC Lancaster and USC Upstate, held Vandy to two hits, thanks to several key defensive plays behind him.
“Believe it or not, I actually wasn’t nervous at all,” said Jackson, who recorded three strikeouts and allowed one walk in the biggest game of his career and Clemson’s season. “I kind of took it as this possibly could be, if I don’t do my job, the last game in college and possibly ever in my career playing baseball. I just went out and gave it all I had.”
Jackson (9-1) said he avoided off-speed pitches that Vandy fed off Saturday night and mostly stuck to his fastball, but he made sure he was precise with it, which meant lowering his velocity at times.
It was his first complete game since last year at USC Upstate.
“I was working both sides of the plate pretty well and had my nerves it tack so I said, ‘I’m just going to ride it out.’ ”
Weston Jackson went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a solo home run for Clemson while Chase Pinder, Grayson Byrd and Kyle Wilkie each recorded an RBI.
“We need to carry this momentum into tomorrow and see if we can find a way to get it done,” Lee said.
Drake Fellows (3-3) took the loss for Vandy (35-23-1) after allowing two runs on six hits through 6.2 innings.
Clemson didn’t announce a starting pitcher immediately after the game. Lee said he wanted to see how his staff felt later Monday.
Alex Eubanks, who threw 101 pitches Friday night against UNCG, could be available in some capacity if he feels good, Lee said.