June 16, 2002
By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. – Even a team that’s been to the College World Series 10 times can find uncharted territory in Omaha.
Clemson improved to 2-0 for the first time in the CWS after the Tigers scored eight runs in the second inning and held off Atlantic Coast Conference rival Georgia Tech 9-7 on Sunday.
“I’m just pleased with where we’re at right now, but there’s a bigger goal in mind,” coach Jack Leggett said after Clemson moved within one win of the championship game. “You’ve got to stay on edge if you want to win this tournament.”
Clemson, 3-2 against Georgia Tech this season, will play Wednesday against either the Yellow Jackets or South Carolina, who will play an elimination game Tuesday.
“It’s not an easy task, it just puts us in a better position than maybe they’re in,” Leggett said.
Khalil Greene went 0-for-4, snapping his 35-game hitting streak, but it didn’t matter with the way the rest of the Tigers were hitting. Michael Johnson was 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs, and Jeff Baker hit a bases-loaded double during the Tigers’ big second inning.
“Everybody seemed to get the hits when we needed them,” Johnson said. “In that eight-run inning, everybody contributed.”
Reliever Jeff Hahn (3-0) was credited with the win after coming on in the fourth inning and Matt Henrie, who started 17 games this season, pitched the final 2 1-3 innings for his first save of the season.
“We just couldn’t get them out. They had some great at-bats and ended up putting a big number up there,” Tech coach Danny Hall said. “But to my guys’ credit, we battled back.”
Philip Perry relieved Walker and went 6 1-3 innings, striking out six while holding Clemson to one run on two hits after the Tigers’ second.
“From there we were just trying to play catchup,” Jason Perry said. “We got in it, but we just couldn’t overcome.”
Clemson had four doubles in the second as the Tigers scored eight runs on seven hits in 13 at-bats.
Baker, who hit a game-winning single Friday in Clemson’s win over Nebraska, doubled with the bases loaded to put the Tigers up 6-0. Johnson drove in Baker with a double, then Johnson scored on another double by Roberto Valiente.
“It’s such an unpredictable game. You go 1-2-3 the first inning, then the next inning you get eight runs,” Leggett said.
Tech added three runs in the third, including an RBI single by Jason Perry, and cut the lead to 8-6 when Victor Menocal came in from third on a balk. But Johnson got the run right back with a homer to right that landed in the tunnel in the bleachers.
“That was a crucial point in the ballgame. His home run put us back three up and that was a huge lift for us,” Leggett said. “Perry had been shutting us down and we were pretty quiet there for a while.”
Tech got two hits and a walk with two outs in the seventh, and Eric Patterson scored on a double by Menocal.
A power surge between the sixth and seventh innings knocked out the scoreboard and cut the lights to a single row on each standard. It was still light out, so the game was not delayed and the lights and scoreboard were fully operating by the end of the seventh.