June 6, 2004
Athens, GA –
Lou Santangelo’s grand slam capped a comeback from a seven-run deficit as Clemson beat Georgia 10-9 Sunday, forcing a decisive elimination game in the NCAA Regionals.
Josh Smith’s 3-run homer in the fifth gave the Bulldogs (40-21) a 9-2 lead, but the Tigers (39-25) played long ball with the Georgia bullpen. Meanwhile Clemson reliever Josh Cribb, who gave up five runs in that fifth inning, pitched shutout ball over the last four innings to pick up the win and improve to 5-1.
Homers by Smith and Marshall Szabo contributed to Georgia’s early 9-2 lead, but Clemson’s long-ball barrage ate up the difference in short order.
In the fifth, Clemson responded with a 3-run homer off the scoreboard by Travis Storrer. Then Russell Triplett added a solo shot off the leftfield foul pole in the sixth. And Santangelo delivered the crushing blow, a grand slam to center in the seventh that ended loser Mitchell Boggs’ day and put the Tigers in front.
Georgia freshman Josh McLaughlin came in to strike out the side, but not before loading the bases on a single, walk and hit-batsman. That was typical of the day. Georgia pitchers walked eight batters and hit one.
Each team got into the other’s bullpen quickly.
Clemson’s Kris Harvey, the winning pitcher in Clemson’s 6-2 win here March 30, surrendered Szabo’s three-run home run off the scoreboard in the third. He retired the next three to get to the fourth, but after he gave up a leadoff single and a 10-pitch walk, he was replaced by Cribb. He retired the first two batters he faced before Justin Holmes singled in Bobby Felmy. Cribb got out of the inning thanks to a diving catch by left fielder Tony Sipp of a Szabo liner.
Meanwhile, Georgia starter Sean Ruthvin used 62 pitches to get two outs deep into the third when first-base umpire Tom Svehla angered both sides. Georgia fans were angry when he called Storrer’s ground-ball double down the line fair, scoring Sipp. Clemson fans were mad when Brad McCann was tagged out at first by Georgia’s Josh Morris after the throw from shortstop Holmes sailed wide of the bag. Storrer scored on the play.
Television replays indicated that both calls were correct.
Cribb was roughed up in Georgia’s 5-run fifth. Most of the damage came after two were out. After Clint Sammons’ RBI single, Cribb got within an out of ending the inning without further damage. But Jason Jacobs singled in Sammons. Smith followed Kyle Keen’s single with a 3-run homer into the kudzu beyond rightfield, giving Georgia its short-lived 9-2 lead.
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