April 27, 2012
ATLANTA – Daniel Palka launched a walk-off home run to lead off the 13 inning, lifting Georgia Tech past Clemson, 6-5, Friday night in a thrilling opener to a three-game ACC series at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets scored three times in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
Palka finished with three hits, and Mott Hyde homered in his first two at bats as Tech (26-17, 10-12) won its third straight game and fifth in its last six. The game was the longest for the Yellow Jackets since beating NC State, 6-5, in 15 innings at last year’s ACC Tournament. It was the longest home game for the Jackets since a 13-inning loss to Rutgers in 2005.
For Palka, it was his second career walk-off hit and his first career walk-off homer. He ripped a ninth-inning single to beat North Carolina
Brad Felder hit a three-run home run for Clemson (24-19, 12-10) in the top of the ninth, putting the visitors up by three. But that was just the start of the late-game drama. Tech put the first four batters on in the bottom of the ninth, and Palka’s two-run double to the right-field gap pulled the Jackets within 5-4. With one out, Hyde’s sacrifice fly to center scored Zane Evans for the tie.
Alex Cruz, who relieved starter Buck Farmer with one out in the ninth after the three-run homer by Felder, fired no-hit ball over the next 3 2/3 innings to preserve the tie. Jarrett Didrick set the Tigers down in order in the 13th inning and was in line for his first career win.
Thomas Brittle’s solo shot put Clemson up 1-0 in the first, and Felder’s sacrifice fly in the second gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. The two shots from Hyde – one in the third inning and one in the sixth inning – allowed the Jackets to tie the game.
Hyde finished the night 3-for-4, with two homers, three RBI and two runs. In his last two games, Hyde is 6-for-8, with three homers, driven in six runs and scored five times. For Tech, Hyde became the first Tech player to homer on consecutive at bats since Tony Plagman against Georgia State at Russ Chandler Stadium on May 18, 2010.
The series continues Saturday at 4 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium, televised live on CSS.