Originally created 05/20/00

Ga. Tech rallies to beat Tigers



FORT MILL, S.C. -- Georgia Tech erased a seven-run deficit against Clemson to squeeze out a furious 9-8 victory Friday to secure a spot in the ACC Baseball Tournament finals.

Tech's Bryan Prince scurried home with the game-winning run with two outs in the ninth when Tiger first baseman Mike Calitri could not snare a double-play throw from shortstop Bradley LeCroy. The top-seeded Yellow Jackets (45-14) needed the Calitri error to outlast the second-seeded Tigers (44-15) in the quarterfinals at Knights Stadium.

"After we got the tying run we were relaxed," said Prince, who scored two runs. "My biggest concern was beating coach (Danny) Hall to the plate."

A ninth-inning double by Mark Teixeira drove in Brad Stockton, knotting the score 8-8. It completed a furious surge by the Jackets, who trailed 7-0 after three innings.

Georgia Tech, the tournament's only undefeated team, will meet Florida State today at noon in the semifinals, while Clemson will need three wins in 24 hours to capture the ACC championship. The Tigers face Virginia at 3:30 p.m. in an elimination game.

Clemson began the offensive assault on Tech starter Rhett Parrott with four hits in the first inning. The first five Tigers reached base safely, including Jeff Baker, whose two-run single drove in Casey Stone and Patrick Boyd. Ryan Riley followed with an RBI single to give Clemson a 3-0 advantage.

Parrott curtailed the damage by striking out the next three batters. The Tigers scored another run in the second. With two outs, Boyd received his second walk of the game, swiped second and raced home on Khalil Greene's single to center. Greene extended his hitting streak to 17 games.

Boyd drove in a pair of runs with a single to right field in the third inning as Clemson padded its lead with three more runs.

Pitching with a 7-0 lead, Tiger starter Jarrod Schmidt retired the first seven batters he faced but could not sustain his early dominance. Teixeira also doubled home Stockton in the fourth to snap the Jackets' scoring drought. Stockton scored four runs and was 3-for-3.

"We couldn't do anything after that," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said of his team's 7-0 lead. "We had opportunities to make plays, but we didn't make them."

Jeff Watchko (4-1) earned the win in three innings of relief, while Tigers bullpen ace Nick Glaser (0-2) took the loss.

Just as it appeared Clemson would waltz into the semifinals, Schmidt spontaneously combusted. Left fielder Jason Basil was the third of six consecutive Jackets to reach safely when he singled in two runs in the sixth inning.

Designated hitter Derik Goffena followed with a three-run homer to trim the Tigers' lead to 7-6 with no outs. Tech chased Schmidt after rallying for six runs on six hits in five-plus innings off the Clemson freshman.

A two-out home run by Calitri in the seventh increased Clemson's lead to 8-6. A dazzling diving catch by Boyd in the seventh momentarily preserved Clemson's advantage.

"An unbelievable game," Hall said. "To come from as far as we did to battle back ... I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever get it tied or go ahead. We were fortunate."

In a bizarre tournament quirk, today's semifinal matchups were determined before Friday's nightcap. Tournament officials decided Virginia would meet Clemson and Florida State would face Tech because the Tigers and Seminoles played in the second round while the Jackets and Cavaliers hadn't met in the tournament.

Today, Clemson and Virginia will match up for the fifth time in seven days. The Tigers boast a 3-1 record against the Cavs in 2000. Winning the ACC regular-season title and earning the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament was rendered meaningless for Georgia Tech, which will have to battle the third-seeded Seminoles purely by an indiscriminate decision.

Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221.