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CLEMSON—Jake Higginbotham returned to the mound for the No. 12 Clemson Tigers (3-0) after missing last season with a stress fracture in his throwing elbow and was dominant in a 2-1 win to sweep William & Mary (0-3) Sunday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

”The story of the game today was Jake Higginbotham,” head coach Monte Lee. “I don’t know if I could have asked for a better start from him. It’s been a long time coming for him.”

Higginbotham, who made his first start in 666 days, did not allow a hit until the top of the sixth inning and finished the game going 5-1/3 innings, allowing two hits and one earned run.

“Felt good, just a relief to get back out there,” Higginbotham said. “For me (I didn’t really have the jitters), as a freshman I had a good amount of innings. So it was more excitement than jitters ... It’s a group effort, and I think that’s a difference in last year’s team. This year we are so deep.”

The Tigers got on the board first, for the first time in the series, as Drew Wharton drove in Chris Williams in the bottom of the second inning. The Tigers had a chance to blow the game open in the fourth, as they had bases loaded, but only managed to plate a single run when Justin Hawkins was hit by a pitch to drive in Seth Beer.

The Tribe broke through in the sixth inning after a one-out double by Owen Socher was followed by a single by Zach Pearson that cut the Tigers’ lead to 2-1.

The Tiger pitching staff finished the series with 37 strikeouts against only two walks after Travis Marr and Ryley Gilliam combined to finish off the game. Gilliam earned his first save of the season.

Player of the game: Robert Jolly.

On a day in which the Tiger hitters struggled, going 5-24 in the game, Jolly went 2-3 with a walk.

Stat: The Clemson baseball team earned its first opening series sweep since 2010, which was the last year the Tigers participated in the College World Series.

Up next: The Tigers return to the diamond Tuesday (4 p.m.) at home vs. the Furman Paladins from nearby Greenville.

Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat.


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