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Yellow Jackets Close ACC Tournament With 10-4 Loss To Clemson

May 24, 2008

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ben Paulsen’s grand slam in the top of the seventh inning helped lift No. 8 seed Clemson to a 10-4 ACC Baseball Tournament win over No. 5 seed Georgia Tech Saturday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Neither Tech (39-19) or Clemson (31-27-1) will not play in Sunday’s ACC championship game – Miami or NC State will play Virginia in that contest – but the Yellow Jackets and Tigers were playing for much more than a consolation prize Saturday. Tech remains in search of its 40th win of the season and still has hopes of hosting an NCAA regional next week. Clemson’s win Saturday may go a long way toward the Tigers’ chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament bid.

The Yellow Jackets and Tigers entered the seventh inning tied, 3-3, when the bottom fell out for Tech. Clemson used two walks from reliever Zach Von Tersch and a Georgia Tech error to load the bases with no outs, setting the stage for Paulsen’s towering, game-winning blast.

“That was certainly not what we wanted to do down here today,” head coach Danny Hall said. “It seems like the last two games, every time we’ve made a mistake we’ve given up a home run. We made it easier for them by walking people and we had a hard time getting the big hit ourselves.”

Georgia Tech closed the game to 7-4 – and missed a golden opportunity to pull even closer – in the bottom of the seventh. After loading the bases with no outs, Charlie Blackmon, who singled to lead-off the inning, scored. But Tiger reliever Casey Harman got Tech’s Tony Plagman to ground into a double play, ending the Yellow Jacket threat.

Clemson added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth, utilizing four base hits off of Tech relievers Chris Hicks and Brad Rulon, the Jackets’ fifth and sixth pitchers of the day.

“It’s kind of disappointing the way things ended,” Hall said. “But, we’ve had a great regular season and I hope we’ll be rewarded on Monday (when the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced) to keep playing.”

Georgia Tech jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Blackmon, who has swung a hot bat all week, led off the game with a single and moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt. Blackmon scored on a Derek Dietrich two-out single.

Yellow Jacket starter Eddie Burns cruised through the first two and two-thirds innings, but made a couple of mistakes in the top of the third inning. Burns issued a two-out walk to Mike Freeman, then surrendered a two-run home run to Jeff Schaus as Clemson took a 2-1 lead.

Tech designated hitter Thomas Nichols put Georgia Tech back in front, 3-2, in the fourth. After Tony Plagman reached base via fielders choice, Nichols lined a two-out line drive over the right-field wall off of Clemson starter Trey Delk.

The Tigers evened the score 3-3 in the top of the sixth when Wilson Boyd led off the inning with a solo homer off of Burns, who left the game after six solid innings.

Blackmon (3-for-4) and Dietrich (3-for-5) led the Yellow Jackets offensively. Patrick Long (2-for-4) also had a multi-hit day. Burns had a solid effort on the mound, giving up six hits and three runs in six innings.

Georgia Tech, a sure bet to get an NCAA Tournament bid, will find out Sunday at 7 p.m. if it will be one of 16 schools hosting an NCAA regional next week. The 64-team NCAA Tournament pairings will be announced on Monday.

“Certainly, it’s up to the NCAA (if Tech is awarded with the hosting of a regional),” Hall said. “We have one of the best facilities in the country. I think our league is a great league. It’s the No. 1-ranked league in the country. The ACC has a lot of teams capable of playing deep into the tournament. It would be nice if they reward us, but we have no way of knowing if that will happen.”


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