May 25, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Fourth-seeded Clemson reeled off six straight hits with two outs in the fifth inning to take a lead it would not relinquish in an 8-5 victory over second seed Wake Forest at the ACC Tournament at St. Petersburg, FL on Friday. The Tigers improved to 47-13 on the season and advanced to the ACC Championship game while eliminating the Demon Deacons (44-11-1). The championship game appearance will be Clemson’s 20th in the 29-year old tournament, more appearances than any other school.
Freshman Jeff Hourigan (1-2) earned his first win of the year while senior Thomas Boozer finished the game with 3.1 innings for his third save of the year. Tim Morley (5-3) got the loss for Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons began the scoring in the third inning after loading the bases with no outs. Nick Blue singled up the middle to drive in two runs, but Hourigan induced a 6-4 double play and a flyout to prevent any further scoring. Wake’s Morley kept the Tiger bats at bay in the early going, allowing only one hit through the game’s first 3.2 innings. But with two outs in the fourth, Michael Johnson hit a towering fly ball that just cleared the fence in right. The homer, a two-run shot, was Johnson’s 19th of the year and it tied the score at two.
With the bases cleared an two outs in the fifth, Steve Pyzik started a rally with a single to left and moved to third on Roberto Valiente’s double down the third base line. Kyle Frank followed with a two-run single, Khalil Greene singled through the left side and Jeff Baker’s ripped an RBI-single through the right side that knocked Morley out of the game and put Clemson on top 5-2. Reliever Brian Bach could not stop the scoring as Johnson singled up the middle to score Greene. Bach struck out Jarrod Schmidt to end the inning, but not before Clemson notched six hits and four runs in the frame.
Wake Forest answered in the top of the sixth. Stephen Guhutzman hit a two-run homer to right and was followed two batters later by Brad Scioletti’s solo home run that hit off the fair pole in left. The blasts knocked Hourigan out of the game and brought Wake Fores to within 6-5.
Clemson pulled away in the bottom of the seventh. After a walk to Greene, Baker took the first pitch he saw from Wake’s Adam Hanson over the wall in center field to push the lead to 8-5. The homer was the 56th of Baker’s career, tying him for sixth place on the ACC career list. Wake added one run in the ninth, but could not get any closer as Boozer saved the game.
Johnson and Baker each had two hits, including a home run, and three RBIs to lead the offense. Pyzik went 2-4 with a run scored and Greene extended his hitting streak to 25 games in the first inning with a double as a part of his 2-3 performance.
Clemson advances to the championship game to face top seed Florida State at 8:00 PM. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Net South.
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