Clemson powers past Illinois 8-4 in NCAA Tournament

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OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Kyle Wilkie and Grayson Byrd both drove in three runs, Davis Sharpe pitched 6 2/3 innings in relief and Clemson beat Illinois 8-4 on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Clemson (35-24) jumped ahead 4-2 in the third inning and never trailed again. Michael Green and Byrd both homered during the decisive rally. The Tigers broke the game open with three more runs in the seventh, including crucial hits by Wilkie and Byrd.

Clemson starter Jacob Hennessy lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs. Sharpe (7-4) was excellent, giving up just three hits and one unearned run.

Illinois (36-20) used seven pitchers to try and slow Clemson's offense. Ty Weber (4-3) took the loss after giving up four earned runs over four innings. Branden Comia, Cam McDonald and Grant Van Scoy all had two hits for the Fighting Illini.

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