April 27, 2012
Atlanta, GA –
Daniel Palka hit the first pitch of the bottom of the 13th inning over the fence in right field for a walkoff homer to lift Georgia Tech to a 6-5 win over Clemson in front of 1,627 fans at Russ Chandler Stadium on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets, who took a 1-0 series lead, improved to 26-17 overall and 10-12 in the ACC. The Tigers, who saw their winning streak away from home end at eight games, fell to 24-19 overall and 12-10 in ACC play.
The Tigers scored single runs in both the first and second innings to build a 2-0 lead. The Yellow Jackets tied the score with a run in the sixth inning. Brad Felder’s towering three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning gave Clemson a 5-2 lead. But two leadoff walks, Palka’s two-run double, and a sacrifice fly tied the score in the bottom of the ninth inning. After three scoreless innings in extra frames, Palka blasted a walkoff homer to right field in the 13th inning.
Jarrett Didrick (1-0), the third of three Yellow Jacket hurlers, earned the win by tossing a perfect 13th inning. Reliever Alex Cruz pitched 3.2 hitless and scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Cruz and Didrick combined to pitch the final 4.2 innings without allowing a hit or run, while the three Georgia Tech hurlers combined to hold Clemson to 0-for-12 with two outs.
Jonathan Meyer (2-3) suffered the loss despite pitching 4.0 strong innings. He gave up three hits, one run, and two walks with three strikeouts. Matt Campbell pitched 2.1 innings in relief, allowing no hits and one run with four strikeouts.
Thomas Brittle gave Clemson the game’s first lead in the first inning when he belted a solo home run to right field, his second long ball of the season. It also extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
In the second inning, Jay Baum led off with an infield single and advanced to third two batters later on Spencer Kieboom’s bloop single to center. Felder then lofted a sacrifice fly to left-center to score Baum.
Mott Hyde cut Clemson’s lead in half in the third inning when he slugged an opposite-field, solo home run to right-center.
Hyde tied the score in the sixth inning when he led off with a home run to left field, his second long ball of the game and fifth of the season.
The Tigers had an opportunity to take the lead in the eighth inning. Jason Stolz led off with a bad-hop single up the middle, then Steve Wilkerson hit a chopper to first. Jake Davies’ throw to second was just in time to retire Stolz at second in a close play. Brittle followed with a walk on four pitches, then Richie Shaffer ripped a line drive, but it was right at Brandon Thomas in left field. Phil Pohl grounded a ball to short, as Hyde’s throw to first was in the dirt. But Davies scooped the ball to end inning.
Baum led off the top of the ninth inning with a high chopper to third base. Baum was called out on another close play, this time at first base. Jon McGibbon followed with a single off Davies’ glove and moved to second on a wild pitch. Kieboom singled to left-center to advance Baum, who had to hold up to make sure the ball got through, to third. Felder then blasted a 3-1 pitch deep over the fence in right field for a three-run homer, his fifth home run of the season.
On a 3-0 pitch to Thomas, the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth inning, Campbell suffered an injury and left the game. Scott Firth entered the game on the mound and threw a ball on his first pitch to walk Thomas. Davies walked on four pitches, then Zane Evans lined a single to center to load the bases with no outs. Palka laced a double to right-center through Clemson’s shift and just beyond the glove of a diving Wilkerson to score Thomas and pinch-runner DeAndre Smelter. Thomas Smith walked on five pitches to reload the bases, then Paul Kronenfeld lined out to left for out #1 as all runners held. Hyde tied the score when he lined a 1-2 pitch to center for a sacrifice fly to plate Evans. Kyle Wren drew a two-out walk on six pitches to reload the bases, then Sam Dove hit a chopper in front of the plate. Meyer fielded the ball and threw to first to retire Dove and send the game into extra innings.
Felder led off the 12th inning with a walk on six pitches and advanced to second on Stolz’s sacrifice bunt. Two batters later with two outs and Felder on third base, Brittle hit a line drive, but Palka gloved the liner at first for the inning-ending out.
Palka wasted little time in the 13th inning sending Georgia Tech to victory when he hit the first pitch of the frame over the fence in right field for a walkoff homer, his 10th long ball of the year. The Yellow Jackets had not led in the game until Palka’s home run.
Palka and Hyde both totaled three hits for Georgia Tech, who amassed nine hits in the contest. Palka went 3-for-6 with a homer, double, and three RBIs. Hyde went 3-for-4 with two homers, three RBIs, and a stolen base.
Felder led the Tigers with a homer, a game-high four RBIs, and a walk, while Kieboom added two hits. Clemson totaled nine hits in the game.
Clemson and Georgia Tech will play game-two of the three-game series on Saturday at 4:00 PM. The game will be televised live by CSS.
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