May 22, 2002
Clemson, SC – Khalil Greene and Jeff Baker, the top home run hitters on Clemson’s sixth ranked baseball team, have been named two of the 12 semifinalists for the 15th Rotary Smith Award. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon in Houston.
The 12 semifinalists were selected in a national round of voting by college baseball publicists. Three finalists will be announced on June 6 and the award will be presented June 24 at a gala dinner at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Houston. Kris Benson is the only previous Clemson player to win the award (1996). Eight of the previous 14 winners are active in the Major Leagues in 2002, including Benson, who has made two starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season.
The other semifinalists for this year’s award are Dave Bush of Wake Forest, Nate Gold of Gonzaga, Brian Barthelemy of Florida State, Ryan Kenning of New Mexico State, Justin Simmons of Texas, Brad Sullivan of Houston, Shane Komine of Nebraska, Russ Adams of North Carolina, Rickie Weeks of Southern and Vincent Sinisi of Rice. The ACC leads all conferences with five of the 12 semifinalists.
Greene and Baker have been quite a one-two punch for the Tigers the last three years, but especially in 2002. They are a big reason Clemson was ranked number-one in the nation for eight weeks this year and have posted a 45-12 record heading into the second round of the ACC Tournament against #1 Florida State on Thursday. Both were recently named among the five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, another award presented at the end of the season to the top player in college baseball.
Greene has 378 career hits entering Thursday’s game, third best in NCAA history and just one hit from the second place total. He hit his 22nd home run of the season in Clemson’s 10-0 win over seventh ranked Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday. For the season, Greene is hitting .478, a figure that would be an ACC record if the season ended today. He also leads the team in RBIs with 75 and has a .877 slugging percentage.
Baker has 21 home runs for the season and now has 55 for his career, an all-time Clemson record. The junior is hitting .330 and has driven in 70 runs this season. He also leads the team in steals with 16 and has a .443 on-base percentage and a .694 slugging percentage.
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