ATLANTA, GA -- Wes Rynders homered and drove in four runs and Kevin Cameron pitched 5.2 innings of strong relief to rally fifth-ranked Georgia Tech past No.7 Clemson, 9-7, on Saturday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The win was Tech's (37-10, 16-4 ACC) tenth in a row at home, and it solidified the Yellow Jackets' first-place standing in the ACC behind Clemson (36-12, 11-6) and Florida State (11-5 ACC).
Clemson jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the top of the second inning, but Cameron (4-1) entered the game and retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced as Georgia Tech rallied for the victory. The right-handed allowed two runs on four hits while striking out two batters in 5.2 innings of work The Jackets' Andy Mitchell pitched 1.2 shutout innings to close out the game and record his fourth save of the season.
After Georgia Tech took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Clemson responded with five runs in the second to build the early lead. The Tigers, who chased Tech starter Rhett Parrott in the inning, sent 10 batters to the plate in the frame. Ryan Riley drove in two runs with a single, Justin Singleton delivered a RBI single, and Khalil Greene plated a run with a bases loaded walk. Singleton scored the final run of the inning when he took home on a wild pitch.
The Yellow Jackets battled back to tie the score at 5-5 with four runs in the fourth. After Derik Goffena and Jason Basil led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Victor Menocal drove in Goffena with a RBI single, and Rynders plated Basil and Menocal with a two-run double. Richard Lewis drove in Rynders with a RBI single to cap the inning.
Clemson responded in the top of the fifth when Jarrod Schmidt gave the Tigers a 6-5 lead with a solo home run to center field, his team-leading fifth of the season.
Georgia Tech quickly answered with two runs in its half of the sixth on a two-run homer from Rynders, his first of the season. Rynders lined the homer just over the right-field wall and was aided by a stiff breeze blowing towards the right-field foul pole. The Jackets pushed the lead to 9-6 with a two-run double from Basil in the seventh. Rynders finished the game with two hits and a career-high four RBI, while Goffena went 4-for-4.
Clemson mounted a late rally in the eighth, trimming the lead to 9-7 when Jeff Baker doubled and came around to score on a RBI-single from Riley, but Mitchell came out of the bullpen to shut down the Tiger rally.
The Tigers' Kevin Lynn (2-1) took the loss in relief, allowing two runs in 2.1 innings. Neither starting pitcher lasted long or figured in the decision, as Tech's Parrott surrendered five runs in 1.2 innings and Clemson's Ryan Mottl allowed five runs in 3.1 innings of work.
Riley led the Tigers with two hits and three RBIs in three at bats. Riley is 16-for-33 over his last eight games, and is now hitting .319. Schmidt also added two hits. But Clemson's top five batters in the lineup failed to produce, going a combined 2-for-21. The Tigers' loss was also the first of the season on a Saturday, as Clemson falls to 13-1 on that day.
"We were feeling good about the game when we went up 5-1," states Jack Leggett. "But we just couldn't hold it together pitching-wise. In the middle innings, we weren't tough enough on the mound and they answered every time we scored. They are a good hitting team."
"In contrast, we couldn't scratch much of anything out of their middle reliever, Kevin Cameron. Our defense didn't hurt us and they too did well defensively, as they made three or four great plays in the field."
"We have had trouble getting our leadoff man on base. We had just two of our leadoff men reach base today and one yesterday. That makes it difficult to score runs. It's discouraging to finally get a hit with two outs, but then strand him because we don't have any outs to play with."
"We have to come back on Sunday and feel better about ourselves on Sunday and play well against a very good team."
The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium, televised live on Fox Sports Net South