Originally created 05/15/98

Tech tops Clemson 10-6



DURHAM, N.C. -- Durham Bulls Athletic Park has seen its share of surprises in two years of hosting the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament.

Two years ago, it was Virginia capturing its first ACC tourney crown. On Thursday, it was perennial power Clemson being ousted from the double-elimination event after two games for the first time in the history of the 25-year tournament. The Tigers got bounced by Georgia Tech 10-6.

"We can't sit here and lament over it or feel bad or down about it," said Clemson coach Jack Leggett. "We are embarrassed -- we just didn't play well. We just didn't get into a rhythm."

The highly ranked Tigers (42-14), the ACC's No. 3 seed, will head home to host the NCAA tournament East Regional next week having lost seven of their last nine games.

"Who knows, maybe we'll go back and collect our thoughts, get some confidence going, get our other pitchers some work," said Leggett. "Maybe this rest -- something positive will come out of it."

Clemson, the top hitting team in the ACC regular season, managed just a combined one run and nine hits in 17 tourney innings before a grand slam by Bradley LeCroy in six-run ninth outburst against two Yellow Jacket relievers.

The win by Georgia Tech broke its eight-game ACC tourney losing streak against the Tigers.

Second-seeded Georgia Tech (38-19) had swept the Tigers in a three-game series May 3-5 and jumped on top quickly again, scoring a run in the first and four in the bottom of the third to go up 5-0.

That's all Yellow Jackets ace Chuck Crowder (11-3) needed as he pitched four-hit ball through eight scoreless innings. Crowder allowed two harmless singles through seven innings while striking out eight.

"He had thrown 126 pitches and anytime any of our guys get to 120 we like to get them out of there," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said when asked why he relieved Crowder, setting the stage for Clemson's late rally. "It didn't work out the way I wanted it to.

"I was definitely worried," Hall added. "They were getting close to getting the tying run to the plate and they had some guys with power coming up."

An error, a walk and a single loaded the bases for the Yellow Jackets in the fourth with no outs. After a fly out to right, Heath Honeycutt drove in two runs with a double high off the left field wall. Brian Prince followed Honeycutt's hit with a two-run single.

Another walk and a hit batter began Georgia Tech's clinching four-run fifth inning off Clemson ace Ryan Mottl (9-4), who gave up seven hits and seven earned runs in 4 1-3 innings.

Eric McQueen, returning after missing six games with an injury, and Stephen Donaghey had RBIs in the inning.

It was the first time the Tigers have not won at least two games in the ACC tournament.

"We haven't played our best baseball in the last couple of weeks," Leggett said. "We've lost a little bit of confidence or timing. After exams we've lost a lot of timing."