May 22, 1999
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Wake Forest repeated as ACC baseball champions Saturday night, rallying for nine unanswered runs while getting some clutch relief pitching from David Bush in a 9-5 victory over Clemson in the tournament title game.
Wake Forest (44-13) set a single-season mark for wins while capturing its ninth straight Atlantic Coast Conference tourney victory – one shy of the league record set by Georgia Tech in the mid 1980s.
“Nobody would have believed this. Four years ago we were playing in the play-in game and to win back-to-back titles and to beat teams like Florida State, this is just a great bunch of guys,” said senior star Jon Palmieri.
The starters for the Demon Deacons have been masterful in their last eight ACC postseason games, each going at least eight innings. But Danny Borrell was wild and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning against the Tigers (37-24), who were playing in the title game about an hour after knocking top-seeded Florida State from the double-elimination event.
But Bush, a freshman from Devon, Pa., retired nine straight Clemson batters to allow the Demon Deacons time to battle back from a 5-0 deficit to win his first career game.
Bush, recruited as a catcher, ended up retiring 16 of the 17 batters he faced, striking out six as Wake Forest won its sixth ACC baseball title. Bush, who pitched a scoreless inning earlier in the day, caught the last out – a popup.
“It couldn’t come down quick enough,” Bush said of the final out. “I wanted to grab it and just start celebrating. It seemed like forever.”
“You can’t do any better than that,” Wake Forest coach George Greer said of Bush’s performance. “We saw this early in the year and then he got the freshmanitis a little bit and got the ball up and couldn’t get his breaking pitch over.”
Khalil Greene’s deep homer to left field over the 30-foot high wall capped Clemson’s five-run outburst in the top of third inning as the Tigers batted around.
Borrell, who was attempting to become the first pitcher in ACC tourney history to win consecutive title-clinching games walked five Clemson batters and threw a pair of wild pitches.
Clemson starter Steve Reba, who allowed seven runs and 10 hits in two innings eight days ago against North Carolina State was cruising along with a one-hitter through three innings before running into trouble in the fourth.
Wake Forest narrowed Clemson’s five-run lead after Reba allowed a three-run homer to Matt Price – his fourth of the season but second in the last two nights.
It turned out that the ACC’s top hitting team was just warming up, getting three more runs in each of the next two innings to break the game open.
Borrell and Corey Slavik each had RBI singles in the fifth while Price drove in his fourth run of the game on a fielder’s choice.
An inning later, Palmieri belted a two-run single up the middle and Andrew Riepe added an RBI single as the Demon Deacons were able to get deep into a tired Clemson bullpen.
“We just ran out of pitching – really,” said Clemson coach Jack Leggett.
Doug Roper was missing from the Clemson relief staff because of the death of his grandfather.
“We are not done yet,” Leggett said. “We have our sights set higher. We have another opportunity (in the NCAAs). We would rather win the next tournament to be honest with you.”
By DAVID DROSCHAKAP Sports Writer
Catcher Andrew Riepe Wake Forest1st Base Matt Postell NC State2nd Base Brian Ward NC StateThird Base Khalil Greene ClemsonShortstop Chase Voshell Wake ForestOutfield Patrick Boyd ClemsonOutfield Scott Daeley Wake ForestOutfield Matt Price Wake ForestOutfield John-Ford Griffin Florida StateUtility/DH Danny Borrell Wake ForestPitcher Mike MacDougal Wake ForestPitcher Scott Siemon Wake ForestPitcher David Bush Wake ForestMVP Andrew Riepe Wake Forest
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