Clemson’s Aidan Knaak stars as the Tigers win the series, shut out Miami 7-0

Sophmore pitcher Chris Scinta walks back to the dugout in Miami's series finale against Clemson at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field on Saturday, Mar. 30, 2024. Photo credit: Jason Hill

Clemson’s breakout Sunday starter, freshman Aidan Knaak, had been solid up to this point in the season, coming into Saturday’s start with a 4.60 ERA and 38 strikeouts. On Saturday, he came out at a different level, tossing seven innings of scoreless baseball with a career-high ten strikeouts. Clemson defeated Miami, 7-0, in the series rubber match at Mark Light Field.

From the first inning he pitched, Knaak was clearly on his “A” game, quickly setting down Edgardo Villegas on three pitches. Blake Cyr followed Villegas with a lineout, and he ended the inning with Daniel Cuvet swinging and missing on a four-pitch strikeout.

Knaak was so dominant that he had the Hurricanes lineup set down in order through five innings of work. The lone mistake was a single by Jason Torres in the second inning, who was immediately erased by a double play. In the sixth inning, Miami finally broke the in-order streak with a Jacoby Long walk in the sixth.

The Tiger’s defense played a significant role in Knaak’s success on the mound as they were perfect in the field, led by middle infielders Andrew Ciufo and Jarren Purify. The tandem up the middle made every play look routine and recorded some outs on plays that regular infielders would not have made.

Opposing Knaak, Herrick Hernandez manned the mound for the ‘Canes and pitched a solid outing, riddled by his own costly mistake in the first inning.

The Tigers loaded the bases with one out when Jacob Hinderleider hit a little dribbler down the third baseline. Hernandez scooped the ball up and threw it to first, but his throw sailed over Torres’ head at first base and down the right-field line.

The error cleared the bases and gave Clemson another early lead. After this moment, Hernandez settled in and pitched great in the middle innings, only giving up one run from the second through the fifth.

The sixth inning, however, went poorly as Hernandez once again plagued himself. This time, it was with free passes, as he walked the first batter and hit the second. Purify then singled through the left side, bringing up the hitter of the day and leadoff batter Cam Cannarella.

Cannarella promptly hit his second double precisely like his first into the left field corner, clearing the bases and blowing the game wide open for the Tigers, extending the lead to seven.

Even though the Clemson offense finally woke up in game three, the Hurricane offense could not seem to do the same. The ‘Canes were 2-28 with 11 strikeouts, summarizing a rough offensive weekend against a talented Clemson pitching staff.

Next, the Hurricanes will quickly drive to Boca Raton to take on Flordia Atlantic University (FAU). The Hurricanes will look to finally get a winning record in the midweek games that have haunted them all season. The first pitch will be Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the FAU baseball stadium.