Tigers Top Tech, Now One Win Away from Championship Game

by - Correspondent -
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OMAHA, Neb. - Before this season, nine previous Clemson teams had played its way into the College World Series. None of them ever began the tournament 2-0.

The 2002 version of the Tigers reversed that trend Sunday with a
nerve-wracking 9-7 victory over fellow Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech at Rosenblatt Stadium. The victory means Clemson doesn't play again until Wednesday vs. the winner of Tuesday's South Carolina-Georgia Tech matchup, and needs only one victory in two possible chances to reach Saturday's national championship game.

For those interested in such things, Clemson now owns a 3-2 advantage in the season series with the Yellow Jackets.

For Clemson coach Jack Leggett, the only advantage he's looking at is having two days off as a reward for winning twice on opening weekend in Omaha.

"I had watched previous years on TV and seen teams like Miami win the first two, then have two days off, and I thought that might be a disadvantage," Leggett said. "But I can tell you now, I'd rather have the extra day off and not play until Wednesday because we won than to be playing Tuesday (in the loser's bracket)."

To its credit, Georgia Tech didn't make earning that day off easy.

The Yellow Jackets, who at one time trailed 8-0, refused to roll over. Tech twice pulled within two runs - once at 8-6 and then again at 9-7 - behind a 14-hit attack on the Clemson pitching staff.

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But when it mattered most the Tiger hurlers got the necessary big outs,
keeping Georgia Tech at arm's length and getting the game into the hands of Matt Henrie down the stretch.

Henrie, Clemson's No. 2 starter for most of the season and easily its most effective starter in the NCAA Tournament, came out of the bullpen for the second consecutive game to nail down a victory. Friday it was a 15-pitch, one-inning outing to gain the win over Nebraska.

Sunday, it was 26 pitches over 2 1/3 innings to save Jeff Hahn's win in

"I've been a starter for most of the year, but I've relieved before so I'm accustomed to it, too," he said. "At this point whatever they want me to do to help the team, I'll do it. If my role out here is to come out of the bullpen, and that gives us the best chance to win, then that's fine."

Henrie quelled a Yellow Jackets rally in the eighth inning in relief of
winning pitcher Jeff Hahn (3-0), throwing one pitch to retire cleanup hitter Matt Murton on a flyball to center with two out and two on.

He breezed through the eighth unscathed, but allowed Matthew Boggs to single leading off the ninth. After a force play exchanged Boggs for pinch-hitter Clifton Remole at first, and Remole advanced to second on a wild pitch, Eric Patterson - who had two hits and was on base five times from his leadoff spot - smoked a line drive that appeared ticketed for left-centerfield that would have cut the lead to one and put the tying run on second.

But Clemson shortstop Khalil Greene, who went 0-for-4 at the plate to end his 34-game hitting streak, leaped and snared Patterson's liner for the second out and, effectively, saving the game.

Victor Menocal followed with a hard one-bouncer back through the middle that Henrie fielded above his head. He threw to first for the final out, then pumped his fist as he met his teammates rushing from the dugout for the celebration.

Greene's play was one of several nice defensive efforts by Clemson Sunday. The Tigers turned a pair of double plays - one of which killed a Tech bases-loaded rally in the first inning - and first basemen Michael Johnson and rightfielder Jarrod Schmidt turned in back-to-back highlight-reel plays for the final two outs of the eighth.

But it was Greene's snag of Patterson's liner which garnered the most
postgame attention.

"When he hit it I thought it was going to the gap," said Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall. "But Greene made a great play. You could say he saved the game right there."

"It was pretty reactionary," Greene said of the play. "I saw it and jumped after it. There was no time to think strategy."

The Tigers looked as if they were ready to put the game away early.

After being set down in order by loser Chris Goodman (8-2) in the first
inning, Clemson broke loose for seven hits and eight runs in the second. Michael Johnson and Roberto Valiente each had two hits in the inning - both of Johnson's were doubles - and Jeff Baker had the frame's big blow, a three-run double with two outs that chased Goodman.

"Everything worked in the second inning. I hit my spots, but they hit the ball perfectly," Goodman said. "You have to give them credit for that. I didn't make the pitches as well as I needed to."

Tech began the road back with two runs off starter Tyler Lumsden in the
second inning, then tacked on three more in the third - two of which scored on Baker's throwing error.

Menocal scored in the sixth on a controversial balk call on Hahn to make it 8-6, but Johnson answered again with a long home run in the top of the seventh to push the lead back to three runs, 9-6. Johnson's blast cleared 12 rows of bleacher seats in rightfield and sailed through the tunnel leading to the concourse on the fly.

The Yellow Jackets scored their final run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Menocal.

Clemson 9 (54-15)

Player              AB  R   H   RBI BB  SO  PO  A   LOB
Zane Green dh       5   0   1   0   0   1   0   0   0
Khalil Greene ss    4   1   0   0   1   0   3   4   0
Jeff Baker 3b       5   1   1   3   0   3   0   3   0
Michael Johnson 1b  3   3   3   2   1   0   6   1   0
Roberto Valiente lf 3   1   2   1   0   1   1   0   1
 L.J. DeMaino ph/lf 1   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0
Jarrod Schmidt rf   3   0   0   0   0   2   2   0   0
Kyle Frank cf       4   1   1   1   0   0   3   0   2
Steve Pyzik c       3   1   0   0   1   0   8   0   0
David Slevin 2b     4   1   1   2   0   1   2   2   0
Tyler Lumsden p     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Jeff Hahn p        0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Matt Henrie p      0   0   0   0   0   0   1   1   0
Totals......        35  9   9   9   3   8   27  11  3

Georgia Tech 7 (52-15)

Player              AB  R   H   RBI BB  SO  PO  A   LOB
Eric Patterson 2b   4   1   2   1   1   0   1   0   0
Victor Menocal ss   5   1   3   1   1   0   3   1   1
Jeremy Slayden rf   3   0   0   0   1   2   3   1   5
Matt Murton lf      5   1   2   0   0   1   5   0   2
Tyler Parker c      5   1   1   0   0   0   8   0   2
Jason Perry 1b      4   2   3   2   1   0   5   0   0
Wes Rynders cf      5   1   1   0   0   0   1   0   3
Matthew Boggs 3b    5   0   1   0   0   2   1   2   0
Brandon Boggs dh    3   0   1   0   1   2   0   0   0
 Clifton Remole ph  1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Garrett Groce pr   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Chris Goodman p     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Aaron Walker p     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Philip Perry p     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 Jeff Watchko p     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Totals......        40  7   14  4   5   7   27  4   13

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
Clemson............. 080 000 100 -  9  9  1
Georgia Tech........ 023 001 100 -  7 14  0

E - Baker(13). DP - Clemson 2. LOB - Clemson 3; 
Georgia Tech 13. 2B - Baker(12); Johnson 2(19); 
Valiente(7); Murton 2(16). HR - Johnson(24); J.Perry(12). 
HBP - Schmidt; Patterson; Slayden. SB - Patterson 2(41);

Clemson         IP  H   R   ER  BB  SO  AB  BF  NP
Tyler Lumsden   3.0 8   5   3   2   4   17  21  79
Jeff Hahn       3.2 5   2   2   3   3   15  18  63
Matt Henrie     2.1 1   0   0   0   0   8   8   26

Georgia Tech    IP  H   R   ER  BB  SO  AB  BF  NP
Chris Goodman   1.2 5   7   7   2   2   10  12  54
Aaron Walker    0.0 2   1   1   0   0   2   2   6
Philip Perry    6.1 2   1   1   1   6   20  22  88
Jeff Watchko    1.0 0   0   0   0   0   3   3   8

Win - Hahn (3-0).  Loss - Goodman (8-2).  Save - Henrie (1).
WP - Henrie(6); Walker(3). HBP - by Lumsden (Patterson); 
by Lumsden (Slayden); by P. Perry (Schmidt). BK - Hahn(2). 
Inherited runners/scored: Henrie 2/0; Walker 1/1; P. 
Perry 1/0. Pitches/strikes: Lumsden 79/47; Hahn 63/35; Henrie
26/18; Goodman 54/32; Walker 6/5; P. Perry 88/53; Watchko 8/6.
Umpires - HP: Jim Garman  1B: John Magnusson  
2B: Nick Zibelli  3B: A.J. Lostaglio  
Start: 4:50 pm   Time: 3:00   Attendance: 25581
Game notes:
Weather: Mostly Clear, 81 degrees, Winds calm
All-time single-session CWS record attendance 25,581
Walker faced 2 batters in the 2nd.


Omaha, NE - Clemson scored eight runs in the second inning and then leaned on the relief efforts of Jeff Hahn and Matt Henrie to garner a 9-7 win over Georgia Tech in the winner's bracket of the College World Series in Omaha, NE on Sunday. Clemson will next play at 7:00 PM EDT Wednesday on espn2 against the winner of the Georgia Tech-South Carolina contest.

After stater Tyler Lumsden allowed five runs in three innings, Jeff Hahn (3-0) threw 3.2 innings, allowing only two runs, to get his third win of the year. Matt Henrie made his second straight relief appearance and pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit relief for his first save of the year.

Lumsden got himself into a jam with no outs in the first inning by sandwiching two hit batsmen around a Victor Menocal single. But the freshman got himself out of the quandry by striking out Matt Murton and inducing a 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.

Clemson started the scoring with eight runs in the second inning. Michael Johnson led off with a double and Roberto Valiente followed with an infield single. Kyle Frank then hit a single to left that brought Johnson to the plate. The first baseman slid in just past the tag of Tech catcher Tyler Parker to put Clemson on the board. Steve Pyzik walked to load the bases and David Slevin followed with a single up the middle that scored two runs. After a a Zane Green strikeout and Khalil Greene walk, Jeff Baker cleared the bases by driving a 1-2 pitch to the gap in left center for three runs and a 6-0 lead.

The hit knocked Yellow Jacket starter Chris Goodman out of the game but the offense continued. Johnson hit his second double of the inning to score Baker and Valiente doubled to plate Johnson and cap the scoring. Georgia Tech got two runs back in the bottom of the inning with Jason Perry's leadoff home run and Eric Patterson's RBI-infield single.

Tech scored three runs in the third inning to make the score 8-5. Perry singled to center to score one run and a throwing error by Baker allowed to runners to come home. The Yellow Jackets scored another run in the sixth inning before Clemson answered in the seventh. Johnson notched his third hit of the day and his 24th home run of the season, a solo shot that extended the Tiger advantage to 9-6.

With two outs in the seventh, Menocal took a 3-2 pitch to right field that brought the Yellow Jackets to within 9-7. Henrie then entered the game and was steady the rest of the way. He gave up a leadoff single in the ninth inning and after he retired one batter, Tech's Patterson hit a line drive headed towards left-center field. However, shortstop Khalil Greene leaped in the air and snagged the ball to prevent a sure hit and Henrie retired the next batter to seal the win.

Johnson led the offense by going 3-3 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs. Baker's three RBIs paced the team and Slevin also knocked in two runs. Khalil Greene went 0-4 with a walk to snap his 34-game hitting streak.

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