April 3, 2002
Jeff Baker’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth capped a three-homer performance and gave Clemson a 6-4 win over a gritty Winthrop squad Wednesday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The victory moved the Tigers to 25-1 and extended the team’s winning streak to 12 games while dropping the Eagles to 13-16.
Baker’s three home runs in a single game was the first such performance by a Tiger since Shane Monahan went deep three times at NC State on April 11, 1993. Baker hit two two-run home runs and a solo shot in Wednesday’s contest.
Winthrop started the scoring by taking advantage of a wild Jeff Baker’s allowed de la Rionda to score before Clemson got out of the inning.
The Tigers jumped in front in the bottom of the inning when Baker went deep to right for a two-run home run. The Eagles earned a run back in the fourth inning with Bennett Stapf’s solo home run to right field that cut the deficit to 3-2.
Jarrod Schmidt came up with a stellar defensive play in the fifth inning. The rightfielder caught a flyout and then gunned down Winthrop’s Todd Friedman, who tagged and tried to advance to third. Baker struck again in the bottom of the fifth. He crushed an 0-1 pitch that bounced off the batters’ eye in center for his 10th home run of the season. The junior now has 44 career home runs, moving him to fourth place on Clemson’s all-time list.
Winthrop would not go away and scored again in the eighth. Matt Matkovich, a career .172 hitter, sent Paul Harrelson’s offering over the fence in center field for his first career home run that knotted the score at four.
Baker was not done on offense and stepped up once again in the bottom of the ninth. After Khalil Greene’s single off an 0-2 pitch, Baker took Winthop pitcher Ryan Chenard’s 3-2 offering over the fence in center for a two-run home run and a 6-4 victory. It was Clemson’s first walk-off home run since Eric DeMoura’s three-run shot against North Carolina on May 6, 1997 to give the Tigers a 5-4 win. For the night, Baker finished 3-4 with four runs scored and five RBIs to lead the offense.
The Tigers will host NC State this Friday at 7:15 in the first game of a three-game set.
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