April 27, 2013
CLEMSON, S.C. – Zane Evans tied a school record with six hits in a 6-for-6 performance, with two home runs, a double, four RBI and four runs as No. 19 Georgia Tech scored 10 times in the fifth inning and beat Clemson, 14-9, Saturday in the finale of a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Evans’ six hits paced the Yellow Jackets’ 18-hit onslaught as Tech (28-16, 12-12) snapped a six-game skid and improved to 16-0 when scoring double-digit runs. Daniel Palka was 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, four RBI and three runs, while A.J. Murray had two hits and two RBI. Clemson slipped to 30-14, 15-9.
“That was a great response by our team after a tough day yesterday,” said head coach Danny Hall. “We had to play three games in 24 hours, and I’m proud of the way we responded. It was good to see the bats come alive and Palka and Evans gave us a big lift today.”
Jonathan Roberts fired three no-hit innings and rolled double plays in the seventh and eighth to pick up his first career save. The Yellow Jackets turned a season-high four double plays in Saturday’s game and had seven twin killings in the series.
“He’s got great stuff,” said Hall of Roberts. “Hopefully he can use this to get some momentum down the stretch. He settled the game, got some big double plays, and we needed it.”
Roberts entered the game in the seventh, with Tech leading 12-9 and runners at second and third for Clemson. The junior righty issued a walk to load the bases, but got Thomas Brittle swinging and rolled a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and dodge the trouble.
A walk, followed by a 1-6-3 double play and a grounder ended the eighth, and Roberts slammed to the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning after the Jackets tacked on insurance runs in the top half with back-to-back solo home runs from Palka to right and Evans to left.
Evans’ RBI double put the Jackets on the board in the first inning and Dove followed in the next at bat with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead. But Clemson came right back with four runs on three hits in bottom half for a 4-2 lead. Jon McGibbon’s RBI single expanded the lead to 5-2 in the third.
“We easily could have hung our heads, but we kept battling and that’s a really good sign that our team is going to compete for nine innings,” said Hall.
Evans and Palka each had two hits during the Jackets 10-run, seven-hit explosion in the fifth inning that gave the visitors the lead for good. Dove’s RBI single made it 5-3, and Murray tied the game with a two-run single through the right side. Daniel Spingola’s bases-loaded walk gave Tech the lead back, Brandon Thomas followed two batters later with a bases-loaded walk and Palka cleared them with an opposite-field, bases-clearing double – his second two-bagger of the inning. Evans launched his ACC-leading 12th homer to the seats in left for a 12-5 lead.
The 10-run inning was a season-high and the most by the Jackets since a 10-run first inning in a 13-0 win over St. John’s at Russ Chandler Stadium on Feb. 25, 2011.
Clemson chipped away, getting three back in the bottom of the fifth inning and Maleeke Gibson’s RBI single in the seventh pulled the hosts within 12-9.
But Evans kept his perfect day going with a single in the seventh, and he and Palka bombed back-to-back homers in the ninth to cap the scoring. Palka’s hit the roof of Clemson’s hitting cage, which is outside the stadium beyond the right-field seats.
The six hits by Evans matched a school record set on three previous occasions – by K.G. White versus Evansville in 1987, by Jeremy Slayton (6-for-6) in the 2003 ACC Tournament versus Duke and by Chase Burnette (6-for-6) versus Presbyterian in 2009. Burnette’s record-setting day versus Presbyterian included three doubles, three homers (tied school record), nine RBI (tied school record) and five runs.
Freshman Jonathan King worked 2.2 innings of relief and was in line for his fourth win (4-3). Clemson starter Clate Schmidt was tagged four 11 hits and seven runs in four innings and slipped to 3-3. The teams combined for 31 hits in Saturday’s series finale.
Tech has the week off for exams and returns to action Friday at Russ Chandler Stadium to open a three-game non-conference series versus Coastal Carolina.